The old haunted house, the legion of dares, the field of fumbling sweet encounters. One long line of: dare you to stand on the porch; dare you to throw a rock; dare you to set eyes around the missing front door; dare you to leap into the living room: to shout, to possibly, prayerfully, get Lindsey to be with you inside, to be the ghost of your imagination. Lindsey: blonde hair, a bevy of clasps and buttons and fingers of cloth and bungling buckles and hooks and opportunity and processes. Go ahead. Drag the old mattress found inviting on the dust and broken glass of a second-floor bedroom down the stairs to make it even more brazenly inviting. You are not scared, are you? The stairs creak and would have been at one time the base of stalking monsters, the heavy ghosts of former residents. Outside, boys the age you were seemingly moments ago get to the porch, throw a rock through paneless window, push a face mere inches inside the door, invade briefly the living room, shouting as you and Lindsey stand barely hand in hand achieving nothing, uncertain what could be achieved, the mattress stained and flat on one side, an artifact, a remnant of the glories in the onetime-lives of those who now haunt this place. As simple as the memory, years ahead, of what could have been done but was not, your inabilities coiled suspiciously and hauntingly around you. Listen for clues.
Ken Poyner’s four collections of flash fiction and four of speculative poetry are available from most web booksellers. He was an information warrior for thirty-three years, and now supports full time his wife’s powerlifting. Recent work has appeared in Analog, Café Irreal, Rune Bear, and Tiny Molecules. www.kpoyner.com