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Did You Miss Me?

The trees were taller. As a youth they had seemed enormous, and even though he was fully-grown they still did not disappoint. The driveway still had ruts, the mailbox still leaned to the right, the front gate still squealed in protest as he pushed it open and then closed again.

Twice a year, from the time he was a babe-in-arms until he was ten and the Big Move; twice a year, for a week in the summer and a weekend over Christmas. He didn't knock on the front door: no one was home.

You get a letter, and you open it, and someone has died, and you're momentarily sad, even though you didn't really know the person all that well anymore if you ever had. Family. There's an executor and then a lawyer and then a plane ticket and then you're returning to a place you never thought you'd see again, all because you were fondly remembered by someone you had nearly forgotten.

Inside, the furniture was covered with white sheets. Where had they come from? Did the lawyer do it? Do they call in a service?

Up the creaky stairs with the smooth, curved bannister that was all one piece. He had always wondered how they did it. Do trees grow in that shape? Wouldn't it break if they took a straight piece and tried to bend it in that easy arc? He still didn't know.

He opened the bedroom door. It wasn't locked, which was odd, but of course the lawyer or his people, they wouldn't have had any idea. Of course it was still empty, bare hardwood floor and bare cream walls and plain white curtains over the windows.

It was early yet; he sat on the floor facing the North-East corner, and remembered.

Picking fallen crabapples before they went mushy, and chucking them into the lake to see if you could get them to skip; running so fast that it was falling; the teenage girl up the lane and on the other side that sometimes laid out in a bikini until her mother caught him peeping through the hedge and yelled; the rusted-out truck randomly laying on its axles deep into the stand of trees out back. Summer. He relived it, sitting cross-legged in business slacks and loafers.

It got to be late enough. He turned around, and there it was, a shimmering in the South-West corner, just like always. It took shape, it firmed up, it reached out but couldn't grasp.

There was a tingling where the shimmering touched his exposed skin. "Remember me?"

The shimmering spread up the walls, crawled across the ceiling, fell across him like a blanket, he held his breath until it rolled away back to its corner.

"You're less now than you were then." He observed. "How long until you're gone entirely?

They were tearing the house down in two weeks. Should he mention it? Would he be understood if he did? Would the shimmering care?

"Did you miss me?"
O38OO2661677 O38OO2661677 36-40 Jan 18, 2013

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