Still you seemed startled when I told you about it, as though someone had placed a cold hand on your wrist.
I tried to explain that it was only for certain occasions, like an ice storm. Or, if the need for silence ever arose in the middle of a dinner party. Everyone else on our street had already furnished theirs, and lined each of the drawers with silk.
Even now, you don't trust me. Here, let me unlock the cabinets and show you the silver. The pierced tablespoons are so real, you'd never know they're a distraction.
DRIVE-THRU AMERICANA WITH THE CHATTY GHOSTS
You use it like a hammer.
And if we make it to New Orleans, we can stay in a haunted mansion, where the victims of criminal Delphine LaLaurie are said to still scream and wail at night. We can stay there if we want. There’s a little yard and gift shop.
Things may yet turn out happy.
INSIDE A HAUNTED MANSION, A DIMLY LIT CORRIDOR IS USUALLY THE FIRST THING YOU'LL SEE
Actually, I used it more like an axe.
When we drove through New Orleans, you mentioned the abandoned house, but you didn't realize I'd already reserved us rooms. At first, it looked like everything was cordoned off: the marble staircase, the anteroom, even the lavishly decorated parlor we'd heard so much about.
It goes without saying there were a few more things you didn't know. Because it only seemed like we were traveling, always en route to some other coast. Really, we had just arrived, only you had no idea as you stood there in the elevator with all of your things.
And there's a reason the rooms were locked. But before I get to that, let me show you the where they keep the food. I have a feeling that you're afraid to ask.
The past reveals itself as a series of rooms opening inside a single room. At first, it looks like something we can navigate, even though you misplaced the champagne flutes on the night of the dinner party.
But this was before a seemingly endless series of housefires. Most of the guests had already commented on the baroque style of the architecture, its magnificent impracticality. Soon the dark green curtains are smoldering beside a beveled mirror, the broken statuettes.
This is always the problem with large houses. No, this is the problem with guests, the way they find their way into the wine cellar you forgot you ever built.
Now the sound of footsteps, a key turning in the lock--
-- Kristina Marie Darling & John Gallaher were born in Portland and Tulsa. Their collaborations appear in OmniVerse, Requited, diode, and elsewhere. They currently live and write in rural Missouri while also taking frequent trips on the bullet train from Paris to Agen.