House With No Echo

by Josh Goller

I didn’t meet Absalom the first time I huffed turpentine, only drooled on the bathroom tile, lying still until Dad pounded on the door and said he would feed Mr. Slithers down the garbage disposal if I didn’t get the hell out. With nightfall, the house catatonic, I wrapped my lips around the nozzle and gulped down fumes until I went under. My lungs filled with pond water and I awoke in an empty house with no echo.

That’s when Absalom came.

Always keeping to the corner of my eye, he lurked outside the empty house, where I would learn to meet him. He smelled of animal bedding and shoe polish. He told me of my future. Through the fogged windowpane, I could see only his gray-blue haze.

“Why don’t you come into the house?” I asked him.

“I’m already inside.” His voice was like crinkling paper.

When I came back home—my ears ringing and clothes drenched in spilled solvent—I followed my future. I soaked a rag and held it over Dad’s sleeping face. He coughed and jerked but I held it there until he stopped. As Absalom said I would.

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Josh Goller has yet to discover the source of the noises in his walls. He spends much of his time standing in various lines.
* This piece originally appeared in The Calliope Nerve.
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