to count

Richard checked the counter at the Have You Seen Anna Mizunami web site and his e-mail nearly once an hour.

The counter rose and fell with the number of papers that used his press releases. It was up to 1,131 the day that CNN ran the story, down to 37 the day after, up to 1,242 when it ran in the Berkeley paper, and up to 4,638 when the campus paper ran the story. "Everyone on campus looked it up," Greg said when he heard the numbers. "Everyone is wired here."

His e-mail contained nothing about Anna. No one wrote to say that they knew his daughter, had seen her in a cybercafe sipping a latte, in the dorm laundry room ironing blouses, on the street looking at cut glass prisms.

Rather, the e-mail came from other parents.

"Have you gotten any information about my son?" went the first one. "He is David Long, a sophomore majoring in computer science at MIT. He just vanished a few days ago. But his computer was on, just like that article said your daughter's computer was on. Same thing. I thought just maybe you might know of something. Let's keep in touch. Share the information."

Carolyn Long,

There were others like this. Parents from all over the country, It wasn't only college kids, but sons and daughters with careers--a computer programmer in Xerox Parc California had simply not shown up to work--and her apartment was spotless. The only thing that indicated anyone lived there at all was the computer--turned on and waiting.

Then the questions came from overseas. A woman in China wanting to know if he had heard anything about her husband, a computer student at Stanford University. A father in Britain telling him his own daughter had been found missing from her room at the University of Southhampton, with the computer on, just like that. And to take heart, surely both would be home safe and sound. Shortly.

Richard asked Greg to put the best tracker on the website. Then they both began keeping track.

our language / misleads us / severing / a river as one / when it is / too many / to count

if there are / other waters / we can not / know them / all we see / in rivers / is their presence

Follow us all: Amy/Anna, Sophie/Yuki, Kit/Richard, minor characters or sift through water leavings and river journeys.