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Midwest Landscape: Abandoned House
There was nothing special about that place. Local teenagers, on drunken weekend nights, used to dare each other to travel down the lonely gravel drive, pull up to the long-abandoned house, and go inside. Something inhabited that house. You could call it a ghost or you could call it a memory, an event so vivid it was etched into the lath and plaster walls. In the presence of a living soul, the thing would play itself out, like a record with a scratch, so every time the music started, it would play up to one exact moment, then jump back to the beginning again. Over and over, a dark form, an arm raised, a scream, a hammer blow. The whole family was dead and the murderer was never found. If you went in, you didn’t stay long, and after you ran out, nearly paralyzed by fear, you lied to your friends, told them it was nothing, called them chicken shits when they wouldn’t take their turn inside.
In Istanbul, in May, a friend dropped a postcard in the mail. I received it in July. It read: Saw him at the Hagia Sophia. I thought it was you! By then, someone else had texted from Turin, and again from Rome: You have a doppelganger! It’s uncanny! He seems to favor churches, ancient and popular with tourists. His passport must be full. He never seems to stop. Mine is a less traveled life. I dream big but keep things small in the circles I actually navigate. My own passport, like my bank account, is always nearly empty.
William Reichard is a writer, editor, and educator. His fifth poetry collection, Two Men Rowing Madly Toward Infinity, was published by Broadstone Books in 2016.
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