“What? Louder! I can’t hear you! There’s something – crackling or something – on the line. What?” The static ceased as did every other sound. I hung up and dialed. No tone. No anything. Maybe the landline would be better. I walked into the kitchen, muttering to myself and picked it up. It was silent. Maybe it was the storm. Beyond the window glass I could see the trees bending in the greenish sky, branches lashing one way and another all at once. The rain had determinedly increased since the storm had begun nearly an hour ago, and the angry sky was gradually changing daylight to dark.
I jumped at a cannon-fire rumble as lightning flashed just in front of the window. The lights in the living room and kitchen went out at once. I knew flicking the switches would accomplish nothing. I flicked the switch.
It was my way, I admitted maybe for the first time in my life, flicking a light switch back and forth. If something wasn’t the way I thought it should be, I always tried to fix it even when I knew the likelihood of my changing things had somewhere near the same probability of the Kardashians going into hiding.
The truth was I’d always lived my life on the basis of possibility rather than probability. That was the reason I’d been on the gymnastics team in middle school. It was the reason I had graduated from high school even though I could tell my science teacher thought dark thoughts every time I entered his classroom. And it was why I was here in the first place. A relationship, one I valued beyond reason, had soured and, after more than a few unsuccessful, unreasonable attempts on my part to force it back to what I believed it should be, I had run away. At twenty-eight I had actually run away.
I’d known about this old run-down place for many years. It had been my uncle’s old house, one he’d lived in and died in. That he’d actually been dead a week before anyone knew it was something we didn’t talk about. No one in the family wanted the house and no one in the world wanted it either, so it had sat alone and ignored for the eleven years since he’d been gone. It was four miles beyond the edge of a dying town: one of those towns that has a gas station; a church with twenty pews, one for each parishioner and a few to spare; a bar with the same customers every night; and no police force.
I’d been here exactly one week, arranged for the utilities to be turned on, a surprisingly easy thing to do, and had unpacked all my earthly belongings. And swept. I had swept the building from bottom to top to bottom again. There was a lot of dirt. I’d been in the process of changing my mailing address when the phone had gone dead.
I hadn’t gotten a job yet, the nearest job being the factory ten miles south, but I wasn’t in a hurry. I had some money stashed away. It was in a manilla envelope under the silverware in a drawer in the kitchen.
As I stood peering out the window, I heard a creak; but it was different from the storm-related creaks and groans the old structure had been emitting for the last half-hour. I turned my head slightly and squinted into the dark.
to be continued…
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