Tuesday, October 19, 2010

House With No Echo

I didn't meet Absalom the first time I huffed turpentine, only drooled on the bathroom tile, lying still until Dad pounded on the door and said he would feed Mr. Slithers down the garbage disposal if I didn't get the hell out. With nightfall, the house catatonic, I wrapped my lips around the nozzle and gulped down fumes until I went under. My lungs filled with pond water and I awoke in an empty house with no echo.

That’s when Absalom came.

Always keeping to the corner of my eye, he lurked outside the empty house, where I would learn to meet him. He smelled of animal bedding and shoe polish. He told me of my future. Through the fogged windowpane, I could see only his gray-blue haze.

“Why don’t you come into the house?” I asked him.

“I’m already inside.” His voice was like crinkling paper.

When I came back home—my ears ringing and clothes drenched in spilled solvent—I followed my future. I soaked a rag and held it over Dad’s sleeping face. He coughed and jerked but I held it there until he stopped. As Absalom said I would.
 
--Josh Goller sprouted in Wisconsin soil but the winds carried him to the gloom and damp of the Pacific Northwest. He now resides in Oregon, where he enjoys driving through fog and investigating the scratching noises originating within his walls. He edits the flash fiction electronic journal The Molotov Cocktail (www.themolotovcocktail.com).

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