AGATHA’S BARN: A CARPENTER’S FARM STORY (part 5)

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Welcome back to Agatha’s Barn, a serial novella by Michael Bailey. This is a tie-in to Carpenter’s Farm, the serial novel by Josh Malerman, author of Bird Box, Inspection, Malorie, and others. Created with permission, and free for all to enjoy during this strange time. Featuring illustrations throughout by Glenn Chadbourne.

If you’re new to Agatha’s Barn, be sure to read Part 1, and Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 first. I also I highly recommend catching up on Carpenter’s Farm before continuing. Josh adds new chapters each Monday, Wednesday & Friday.

This may be the end of Agatha’s story, but maybe not …


jars_37

Not the same barn, Agatha thought, at least at first, but how could that be? The swing doors had not swung open; they weren’t even swing doors at all, not any longer; instead, one large panel violently slid from one side of the front of the barn to the other, as though someone (within) had unlocked the latch, grabbed hold and’d thrown open her jail cell.

The entire barn shook when the suddenly-there sliding door slammed to a stop at the end of its rails. Two barns? For half a hesitation, she wondered if she’d crossed from one farm to another while wandering through the crops. In this part of middle-Michigan, right in the mitt, the land seemed endless, some fields separated by fences, some not. Farmhouses and barns and silos stuck out of the earth like misaligned teeth—far different than the long flat teeth of New York City and Chicago, which were all bright and properly aligned. No, those sticking out of bumfuck-nowhere were all equally old and rotting in their gums.

No one stood in the open maw of the barn, no elongated shadow backlit by the dim light of the farmhouse (yes, same as before). Alone, but not.

Agatha wondered how long ago she’d last been swallowed by the barn (yes, same barn, my barn, Agatha’s Barn, only different now). Time had stretched and’d worn thin these last few days / weeks / however long she’d been away from home. Her mind hot taffy endlessly pulled apart and tossed back into itself, stringy (strong as yarn), her outfit equally holding on by threads. She’d brought a change of clothes or two, probably forgotten somewhere in the barn, or in the woods, but they no longer seemed to matter, were not even close to clean, although she’d showered at some point; and she’d brought another mind, that of her youth, which mattered more than ever now, although she left that in other places sometimes, folded into a labyrinth mind.

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Cat’s cradle, little Aggie mused.

Someone had replaced the swing doors at some point, maybe The Farmer, or the new Carpenter who’d brought the farm back to life. The changes were more recent than not. Even the holes in the roof’d been repaired to some extent. New wood over old wood.

We repaired the roof,” she said, meaning her and Aggie, but couldn’t quite remember anything other than hammering all those shame and pity nails.

“Show me,” she said, meaning whoever’d startled her with the door should step out of the shadows and reveal himself / herself / itself. “What do you want from me?”

With the hammer at her side, Agatha took in her surroundings. She went to the barn, its mouth wide open to night (its mouth wide open tonight, sang her younger self), but no one was right outside the barn. Far across the property, a man stood in the upstairs bathroom window of the farmhouse, watching. Directly under him on the first floor stood another man in the window there. The Farmer and Oliver, or Oliver and The Farmer; they’d see Agatha’s silhouette backlit by the lamp in the barn, but what else would they see? No, she was not alone; she knew this.

Agatha left the barn open behind her, which gave her comfort, the way a prisoner might feel with their cell door left ajar, the option of escape enough not to feel so imprisoned, enough not to want to run screaming out of her cage. The cowardice weighed heavily against her courage, the slug of whiskey finally starting to level things out.

The old Tiffany lamp seemed recently added, or unnoticed earlier, and its stained glass shade offered the cold room a certain fragmented warmth. She took another pull of Blanton’s, let it burn, then pushed the bottle aside past a roll of tape and Sharpies and boxes of lids. The cans of paint had been removed to make room for more canning jars, the walls lined with wooden shelves (there before), and upon them rows and rows of Mason jars (not there before).

All full. All labeled.

There was enough canned crop to last years, what one might expect to find stashed in a bomb shelter, enough to get an entire city through ten years of pandemic. Labeled were jars of “sincerity” and “integrity” and “self-control,” and next to those a horde-supply of “disloyalty” and “abrasiveness” and “pessimism,” and right next to those “optimism” and “tolerance” and “daring.” Enough characteristics to change the world. To last lifetimes. To feed the starving.

The hay was not tossed about as before, but in bales and neatly stacked against the far wall, the old hay thrown out or given back to the dirt. The place tidier. Dusted. Personal belongings, too. Someone had even screwed a bike hook into an exposed two-by-four and from it had hung her Schwinn by its rear tire. Clothes were neatly folded on one of the shelves—not hers—and more jars lined up on others. A few partially emptied, their labels all but worn away. Bottles of water. Make-up and feminine products. A compact mirror. A hairbrush. Tipped-over empty jars. Shards of glass around a spill of red that could be dried tomato sauce or blood.

The loft, little Aggie considered, was it always there?

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A wooden ladder led up to what Agatha could only assume was meant for hay. The hole in the ceiling high above could have once held a pulley. She envisioned The Farmer hoisting up bales, with someone above, maybe a wife or partner at one point, guiding them into place and stacking them by way of hay hooks. The loft above seemed emptied, or maybe readied.

The place settled as old places do, old nails pulled through old wood. If the farmhouse could breathe, Agatha figured, so could the barn. She called out after the sound, whispering,

“Hello?”

There was enough room up there for someone to “squat,” as she herself’d squatted in the barn, with room for a single bed, she figured, an end table, a small dresser. A woman could live up there, by the looks of it: the choice of lamp below, the belongings, the folded clothes, the new orderliness of the place. Was the (recently) shattered jar once filled with tidiness?

Someone could be imprisoned here, she thought, thinking of Chris, of “home.”

Agatha couldn’t remember the barn having a loft, though it always must’ve had one, the construct as old as the rest of the place. Oh, what she might mind find if she braved climbing the ladder: a dirty battered woman spread out like the letter X atop a mattress, bruised wrists chained to the headboard, legs belted to the frame, or maybe only half her body bound so she could still do things; a bucket at her side, a bottle of water, empty jars from regular force-feedings.

“I know what you need,” Agatha said, once Chris’s words—he’d feed her with welts and cuts and scrapes and burns, by fist and blade and ash; he’d take from her to fill his needs.

The moon had sometimes flooded the barn with light, stabbing it through the many holes. She’d sheltered in this place herself a few days, in a tent, but often enjoyed her time outside, whether staring up at the stars through the hole in the roof or watching for the owl.

The tent could fit up there, yes, which might explain where her tent’d gone.

Agatha called again, but was met with only silence, more settling, and then another creak from the opposite end of the loft. No one could possibly be up there, she kept telling herself. Rats maybe. A possum nest. The Barn Own (they live in barns, right? Aggie wondered). In the barn, outside the barn. Someone / something inside but also outside. The owl could be stuck, she figured, especially since the hole in the roof’d been repaired. She made her way to the ladder, put one hand on a rung, considering how the barn doors’d—

Breeze hit her neck, soft and warm as breath. She spun (a hard tug at her back, a spinning black yarn, she imagined, unrolling) but no one was there, though she could sense someone there, watching, waiting. Closer than those in the farmhouse.

“Courage,” she said. “We have courage now.”

As she climbed, the fight against gravity augmented, each step twice as heavy as the previous, so that when she made it to the top the entire weight of Carpenter’s Farm pulled her to a stop. She peered over the side, eyes closed. And what could she imagine upon opening them?

The stare of the woman (yes, a woman) tied to a bed or curled over herself in the corner, in rags as thin as her own, eyes blinding white like those of The Farmer, twin suns (or holes for eyes) ready to both shine upon and draw new life in a forever-spiraling dance (let go of the top rung, won’t you, take this woman’s hand and feel the soundless beat of her blackened heart and dance dance dance) and also a hundred glass jars like asteroids in orbit around her, reflecting the white or swallowing the black (and Agatha, little Aggie, too, they’d be a part of that system soon), all those empty / emptied jars force-fed to the woman or self-administered, it didn’t really matter which for their contents (traits) had been consumed, causing a great change, causing the lights in her eyes (or the opposite: imploded stars, black holes for eyes) to shine or not—

Agatha couldn’t open her eyes. An invisible blindfold had been tied too tightly around face, her eyelids heavy gates (barn doors, Aggie mused, swing-swung sealed, slam-slid shut).

“Open your eyes,” she said to the dark, to herself, “open your eyes!” but couldn’t. She hadn’t drunk enough of that courage, could only allow a poem to write itself without any ink.

ever-expanding black,
a great nothing
between celestial objects,
vast insignificance,
the emptiness defining

“It’s not us that justifies the universe,” she said, the words unexpectedly there, perhaps the poem coming alive through her. “We are nothing more than grains of sand, specks of dirt, collected stardust later turned to ash, constantly churned and re-churned into the soil, recycled. And it’s not our world, no, not Mother Earth that makes life so grand yet so insignificant with our passage, or Father Time, not the sun, nor the stars, nor the countless galaxies and comets and other celestial objects floating about, no, it’s the space between, the void. The dark does not make us so inconsequential, but the light. There’s no sense to fear the dark, only ever the light.”

And so Agatha imagined the woman on the bed, or in the corner, not with twin suns for eyes, but with twin black holes spiraling within her face both clockwise and counter- and not pushing her at all down the old wooden stairs, but pulling her up the rungs, the woman’s blind-sight lifting Agatha (and likewise Aggie) like hay by pulley to be led home by willing hands.

“What’s in the barn?” she said, and opened her eyes.

She saw what was in the barn.

“Agatha,” a voice called from below.

jars_39

In turning, Agatha slipped, the topmost rung of the ladder disintegrating within in her hand from the dry rot from an old leak. She fell ten feet, landing hard, crumpling to the floor in a plume.

Chris stood at the barn door, his head hospital-bandaged: thick gauze held by a bandanna of white medical tape. A dark round spot seeped through like the Japanese flag, only black instead of scarlet in the light, the same shape and size as the head of her hammer.

“You’re not really here,” she said, not believing at first. “You’re—”

“Are you living here?” he said, his voice knives. “Actually living here?”

She thought of the woods, the willows, the fields, the farmhouse, the barn, what she’d found in the loft, all of it. She stood and dusted herself off and made her way to the many shelves of jars. The hammer waited there—what she’d used to maim but not kill him—and a row of jars labeled “vengeful” (or “vengefulness” with the ‘ness’ on the first jar finger-smudged with dirt). She went to the Blanton’s, took a long pull of courage. As she set the bottle down, one of the jars exploded next to her. Two broken jars now, spilled into each other, the tar-crumbs of collected crop falling into the red, whatever that may be. Her mind a flood of past / present / future.

“I asked you a goddamn question,” he said, holding a rock. He tossed it in the air (a small thing, like him) to show her what he was capable of doing, perhaps, that his next rock wouldn’t miss, that she’d better answer his goddamn question. “Are you living here?” he said.

A phone hung on the wall in front of her. A landline. A handprint from someone who’d recently made a call. The cord ran down then along the shelf and disappeared. She could reach out, call someone, but who? She could call the police, report a fire—that would get people here, sure—or report a lunatic on the loose, but she knew if she picked up the handset there’s be no dial-tone, just a person breathing on the other end, the line connected directly to the farmhouse.

She eyed the hammer, the spilled crop, took another swig of whiskey. She couldn’t remember a phone ever being in the barn, but here it was, like the lamp, like the loft, like the hundreds upon hundreds of filled jars.

The shattered glass of the one closest to her meant Chris was here, not a figment of her imagination, not a ghost, not dead. No, he was here, at Carpenter’s Farm, in her barn, Agatha’s Barn. He’d somehow tracked her down. She’d apparently not headstone-tipped his mind to mush after all. He was here, now, to take her back, a man who thought a woman could be owned.

Agatha responded not by answering but by bringing a handful of spilled harvest to her mouth. She didn’t care about the gritty mud-like texture or the horrid coppery tinge. Welcomed it, in fact, smiling. She crunched down on broken glass, which bit her back, and she spat out the shard the way Chris’d sometimes spit at her (once, right in the face), like father’d spit on Mother when she wouldn’t listen. Memories as wild as his voice. One person could not own another, no, one could only poltergeist-press another into believing in possession.

She gathered another handful, careless of the glass, and swallowed the sludge, chased it down with courage. She was done being scared of this monster, of any monster. The jar next to it read “rash” and she unscrewed the lid and took a bite of one of the ugly greenish things inside (dash of rash, sang Aggie). She opened more jars: a pinch of power, stalks of strength.

There was a twinkling in the creature’s eyes preying upon her, pure hatred (Chris’d eaten so much anger in his pathetic life, and indiscretion, and dishonesty, and deceit, much like her father, always hungry, those two), but older Agatha wouldn’t be scared of that glimmer of light in the dark of his eyes, no, not any longer.

“The emptiness defines,” she said, thinking of the there-then-gone poem.

“What’s wrong with you,” Chris said. “Why’re you such a mess?” His words dissolved in the wind, shaky, unstable. “What are you— what are you eating? Stop. Answer me.”

The next rock cracked against her sternum. The pain temporary. Chris wouldn’t’ve cared if it’d hit her face, her eye, or any other part of her because the body healed.

She’d been hit plenty, the pain no longer meaningful, no longer there.

Agatha grabbed the hammer, then, held it close to the lamplight so he’d see its silver clearly, and she turned to him and turned the tool over so he’d see her intention—that she’d headstone-tip that final nail. The bandage on his head served as guide where to strike.

He rubbed the back of his head, as if just remembering what she’d done to him, said, “You nearly killed me,” though his words didn’t matter. He talked to himself as she stepped toward him. As he backpedaled. Full of what, cowardice? The thought made little Aggie laugh inside, imagining her older self a short while ago by chance (or by choice) tasting that crop. But still he spoke, said rage-faced, “You did this to me!” pointing at the wound, “hospitalized me, you— you,” but he couldn’t say bitch because she held the hammer, “and what did I ever do to you other than provide for you, love you?” Still he backpedaled, bumped into the barn door, said, “I gave you the world, Agatha,” but no, he’d made himself her world, and made Agatha his moon; she’d been stuck for years in monotonous rotation (he not monogamous), pulled round and round and unable to break free. Now she wanted nothing more than to explore the—

ever-expanding black,
a great nothing

—void and define herself in that emptiness, that vast insignificance. Here he was, so small, eclipsed by her colossus shadow, barn light behind her, and here she was, his moon pulled too hard by his constant gravity and about to come crashing down. “You did this to me,” he repeated and tripped over his feet, fell, hands crossed in front of him. Agatha advanced at a run, and he let out a rapid ramble, “but I tracked you down ’cause much as you need me, Ag”—the vile nickname he’d “given” her— “you need me,” and she stood over him, tall as ever, hand cocked back and about to tip the ugliest of nails. She swung down as he closed his eyes.

A crater split the ground next to him, burying inches deep and inches from his cower-crumpled face. That was enough to drive him away, she hoped, for he’d pissed himself. Aggie wanted to end him, like father, but Agatha couldn’t bring herself that low.

“How did you find me?” she said. “Open your eyes, tell me.”

Chris told her how as she craned over him, the hammer still in the ground. After she’d struck him the first time back “home” Chris’d managed to pull himself to their living room window before crawling to his cell phone to call an ambulance and “days and days ago, this was,” he said and that he’d seen her riding off on her bike, had seen which direction. The hospital’d kept him overnight, and then two more nights until he could sign himself out. And then he’d stopped at every stop on the route he’d seen her go, asking if anyone’d seen a woman riding a bike, showing her photograph—which he then pulled from his pocket to show Agatha—and had eventually stopped in a general store. “The man in the blue apron there rambled on about Carpenter’s Farm up the road, here.”

“No one answered at the farmhouse when I knocked,” Chris said, pointing behind him, “and the doorbell’s just a hole.” The lights turned out the moment before he glanced over his shoulder, then, as he pointed to show her there was indeed a house hiding in the dark.

Agatha raised the hammer again; she could bring it down, have her taste of freedom, despite her fill of vengefulness, rash, power and strength, already warmed from the courage.

“The light came on in the barn,” he said, “and I heard the door slam open.” He stunk of urine, his breath of beer, his mouth spewing lies. Always incapable of truth, this drunk.

She’d find a six-pack in a cooler in the car, she knew, empty Corona bottles tossed in the backseat—the beer now soaked in his pants and watering the ground beneath him—and cigarette butts crumpled in the ashtray like bent nails. Behind him, all was black. She couldn’t imagine Chris following her all this way, all this time, asking around, knocking on doors in the middle of the night (three or four o’clock in the morning, she figured, the moon below the horizon now). And she especially couldn’t imagine him walking all this way from farmhouse to barn in complete darkness, not with all the shadows, not with so many feet crunching through fields.

“What is that?” he asked, for he heard them too.

“You will leave and never come back,” Agatha said.

“What happened to you? Why are you—?”

She pounded the ground next to him to make him flinch, a soft thud for every phrase; through clenched teeth and with her hair dangling over him she said, “You will leave and never come back,” thud, “and you will not follow me,” thud, “and you will live your life without me in it,” thud, “and you do not need me, as much as I do not need you, do you hear me?”

Agatha drove the hammer as hard as she could into the ground next to him.

“Who is that,” he said, eyes asquint, “out there, making all that noise? Who lives here? What is this place? And what is that?” he said pointing behind her to the barn, the dim light reflected in his eyes shaking and terrified. “What’s in the barn? What’s in the barn?”

She smiled because she knew.

He kicked out, his foot connecting with the side of her knee, and he grabbed the hammer from her as she fell and in that motion swung it sideways against her temple, bringing Agatha the stars. As the darkness around her spun, Chris scrambled backward like a spider, managed to stand even as she grabbed hold of his ankle, and he swung again, connecting with the meat of her shoulder, whether he meant to or not, knocking her back.

Something in him changed, a sudden craze. Agatha’d seen this transformation before, the way Aggie’d seen it in her father countless times in her youth. The man becoming the monster. Blood-lust. If the full moon were out his skin would crack apart and fur would sprout, his face stretching to a snout, teeth elongating to fangs, and he’d howl up at the light before striking.

You open this goddamn door! she expected him to shout, but this was not her father, not her youth, and the barn door had already been flung wide open.

All at once a sickness came out of her. She held both her shoulder and stomach and purged out a mess of black; up came the courage, up came everything but the cowardice, it seemed, and as she wiped her mouth Chris stood tall over her. He wielded the hammer this time. Blood dripped from his bandage and ran down his ear and along his smile. Their roles’d reversed back to how they’d always been: since she’d married him; since long before that, even … just a girl. Chris and her father had that same disease growing inside them.

“What were you going to do?” he said, “hit me like you did afore?”

His last word sounded off, like something her father’d say, as if she’d crushed a more sophisticated part of him that’d rewound what he’d meant to say as something more primitive.

He swung at the air in front of her, whoosh, and she felt its wind. If she hadn’t flinched and slipped and fallen back at that moment he’d’ve crushed in her skull, would’ve shattered her jaw, his swing in symmetric pendulum, she realized, about to whoosh back down again.

Agatha meant to throw a handful of dirt in his face as she rolled away, but managed a wet mass of what’d come out of her instead, a slop of hot-expunged characteristics. The shoulder pained her fierce but she managed to regain her feet and run past him.

“Ag!” he screamed—her butchered name—running right behind her.

The black yarn as strong as steel-braided rope tugged her not toward the barn, where she could slam the door and slide the bolt and shelter inside, and not to the farmhouse to pound on windows or doors, and not to the fence line of willows that lead to the woods where she’d stayed for so many nights giving poems and paper back to the trees, and not even to Chris’s car parked a ways down the road (Chris’d always kept his keys on him, she knew), but to the fields that’d fed her all this time, that had changed  her, that’d fed and changed everyone on Carpenter’s Farm.

He called her name again, like a curse, letting her know she’d gained a lead.

She ran until her lungs burned; even barefoot, she’d put some distance between them. She held her shoulder, held the stab at her side, took a moment to catch a breath.

All we got in us is cowardice, Aggie mused.

She was right. It had to come out. And so Agatha shoved her longest fingers down her throat and gagged, fingers forced in deep and unwanted, and out it came in a fiery rush.

No longer was she afraid of him.

All this time wandering the farmland, Agatha’s eyes’d grown accustomed to the dark, to the waxing and waning of the moon, and she could find her way around even in its absence, which gave her the advantage. She’d learned the land, knew the fields well.

In the distance, Chris stumbled and fell, swore.

She shadow-slipped inside a tall crop and walked with her shoulders askew through wide leaves that each wanted to touch her. A field of grit. She ripped off a piece and chewed (texture matches its name, how nice) as she made her way from one side of the field to the other down a row just wide enough for her to squeeze past, laughing inside as Chris Motherfucker’d his way through, each tall stalk reaching out to slap him, it seemed, to slice him into swearing.

Agatha passed from grit to responsibility, according to the wooden markers. Yes, she had a certain responsibility, especially now, but needed more. She reached down and plucked a few of its fruits (so this is what responsibility tastes like) and ate until her mind told her she’d had enough. She carried on to the next crop and the next as her (ex)husband plodded along far behind her, lost, but still following, maybe squinting down every once in a while to search for footsteps. She took only what she needed, not taking what she needn’t, and finally stopped at an unlabeled patch of dirt. The ground not yet plowed. Another dead field.

“Dead field,” she said, and the girl inside her snickered.

The Farmer stood in the center, face hidden by the brim of his hat. Every last star shined above him, as though someone had pounded every last 16-penny nail on earth into the (infinite) black, into all that great nothingness she still needed (and wanted) to explore.

the emptiness defining
            / divining
            / ever-changing
            / forever-endless

He held his long shovel beside him, which he then planted into the ground, and then he turned away from her, leaving the tool there, having showed her all he needed to show her. He walked away, faded into the next field. There, then gone.

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There was The Farmer. The Farmer was there.

“Agatha!” her (ex)husband cried, finally caught up to her. He stumbled into the empty field like a drunkard. He’d driven all this way, drunk-determined to have her, though no person could ever be had. In the open, what little light above created a magical-monochrome effect, everything more illuminated. Black ran freely from his wound, had soaked into his shirt. He’d lost a lot of blood in his pursuit. “Ag,” he said, out of breath, out of just about everything. He fell over, holding the hammer, her hammer, used the end of it to push himself up, then fell again. He crawled to her, one hand outstretched, the other dragging the hammer as if he couldn’t let go.

Never had she seen him so pathetic. Had he been drawn to eat from the fields? The dirt on his face could be from sweat and falling facedown, or from handfuls of earth brought to his mouth to feed an insatiable hunger. He could have filled himself with defeat, helplessness, panic, any number of things. But here he was now. In one of the unlabeled empty field.

In one of the bad crops.

Agatha stood as The Farmer had, thinking, There is Agatha; Agatha is there.

The bandage had fallen off, and so the crater in Chris’s head seeped freely as he soldier-crawled to her, eyes pleading, fingers curling. She went to him, stepped on the hand holding her hammer. She pried it from his fingers, held it over him a moment then brought it down—

(into his head)
(into the earth)
(into her belt loop)

—but no, she hadn’t killed him before, and wouldn’t do so now. He would’ve survived had he not come after her; had he not bled out his horrible traits. He’d done this to himself.

She watched curiously as the last of his blood pooled out of him as dark as oil. She counted one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, all the way to nine-eleven-one-thousand before checking for the pulse no longer there. She used the shovel to cut off his ring finger (severing two others), which curled around the wedding band, and threw both the finger and the ring for the owl. She’d earlier tossed her own band into the creek in the woods where she’d bathed.

Agatha dug for the rest of the night, until the last of the stars winked out and the light of the morning sun brought life and color back to the world. After taking the keys from his pocket, she buried his body in the dead field, which Oliver would someday till and till and till with the other things buried there. “It’s time to go home, Aggie,” she said, “time to get some help.”

She made one last trip past the willows to retrieve her backpack, then returned one last time to the crops to fill her jars with what she’d need going forward. No more than that. In the car, she tore out the last pages of her notebook because one last poem wanted out of her before leaving Carpenter’s Farm, and because sometimes poems write themselves, and because Agatha was beginning to right herself, which would start with a little therapy.

jars_40

When you can’t see them anymore,
            their outlines permanently flashed:
                        against dirt, once grass
                        against asphalt, and brick
                        against will
            washed clean by endless tears
            they are never gone
            in death they still run:
                        into the earth
                        down drains
                        from thoughts

Blink not to forget
            but to cover individually
            with pleasant-past
                        / blink

When you close your eyes
            their lives inverted silhouettes:
                        hidden in memory
                        hidden from the children
                        hidden inside
            washed away by a sleeve
            they are gone
            in reality you still drive:
                        away from the flames
                        down fiery lanes
                        into smoke

Blink not to remember
            but to let go
            of the loss
                        / blink

When you pick your random non-random moment
            their images temporarily erased:
                        replaced by sandy beaches
                        replaced with smiles
                        replaced recursively
            from the mind over years
            they are forever
            alive and never still:
                        but linger
                        as reminders
                        of compassion

Blink not for closure
            but to overlay
            one atop the other
                        / blink

94033251_218196139461618_8447808068271472640_n

[ To be continued ? ]


This may be the end, but maybe not. I have another 3,000 words or so that might want out, making this novella a nice round 30,000 . But who knows. Either way, let me know what you think.

I hope you’re enjoying this strange tale so far, as well as Glenn’s illustrations, and every other piece of writing, art, music, poetry inspired by Josh Malerman’s Carpenter’s Farm. Since this pandemic started, I haven’t been able to focus on writing anything other than poetry, so thank you, Josh, for getting me out of this rut!


 

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