2939 Prosper Road (Between Breath & Suffocation Sec. 4)

From the outside our house didn’t look all that horrifying. The cozy, two-story, ranch-style dwelling was quite charming. Like every other homestead in Patterson, it sat on a large plot, land passed on from one generation to the next, deepening familial roots in a place we’d live and die. Tractors and mowers, aged by time and weather, decorated the yard like pillars, proof that those who came before us not only existed, but worked hard, something we needed to be thankful for. Every year wildflowers grew in tangled masses; yellow, orange, lavender, and white blooms brought sweet smells we inhaled, filling our lungs with the newness of spring. And on the side of the house Mother planted a garden: perfect rows of greens, carrots, squash, turnips, tomatoes, peppers. These foods we learned as babies to enjoy. By the time we took our first steps our hands were already deep in the soil, pulling carrots up by their tops, picking tomatoes from their vines. We grew up loving the land, unafraid of its mysterious creatures. We felt comforted by its complexity, safe inside a world where the outside matched the inside. These were the good times.
Some nights my dreams take me back to that house in Patterson. I see Sage taking me by the hand dragging me into the yard where we ran through the knee-high grass, burrs pricking the bottoms of our feet. Mother followed behind, her squeals playful.
“I’m gonna’ get ya,” she sang. We ran as fast as we could, the ends of our dresses catching the wind. When she was on our heels, she pulled us to her chest and laughter spilled from our small, bony frames. We played hard, loved life as only youth could, in the spirit of immortality.
And when we grew tired the three of us made our way to the porch, collapsing on dusty and creaky chairs. In contrast to the rest of the yard, the porch was lined with June Grass and Milkweed, both well-manicured. The concrete path to the porch was home to a maze of potted plants, decorative rocks, and short Gargoyle statues: one named Sebastian, the other Margolis. We rubbed their heads each time we entered the house because Mother believed they protected us from evil. This didn’t seem strange. Nothing seemed strange. This was our world and our Mother was truth.
So the first time we watched her walk barefoot across our two acres of grassy, hilly meadow to its perimeter, a forest of juniper trees, because Sabastian and Margolis told her to, we thought nothing of it. We stared down from our bedroom window as she disappeared, our gaze fixed until she appeared again hours later carrying a dead, wild turkey. We ran down the stairs, through the front door, and across the yard to greet her.
“Look what I found,” she held the turkey up by its neck. It dangled in her hands.
“What are you going to do with it?” Sage asked.
“Cook it, silly.”
But she didn’t ever cook it. She sat on the porch and pulled the feathers off one by one, and then cut the head off to let the blood drain into a bucket. Sage and I sat watching at the opposite end, a good twenty feet away, our silence affirming. Mother ripped organs through a slit she created, squishing them in her hands before running into the house, down to the basement and lining them up on a shelf in the wall where they stayed until Grandma Betty came to live with us. We followed the blood droplets through the foyer, the living room, to the end of the hall, down the basement steps. This scene repeated over and over. We watched her dissect wild turkeys and pigs, rodents, birds, collecting their insides like they were gold pieces. We said nothing. Thought nothing. We simply watched, our hands clasped, our shadow one.
Most days it was just the three of us. Extended family visited for funerals and birthdays; Mother always made herself scarce, but it wasn’t until years later that I understood why. They didn’t know that we lived in a house of rituals, governed by the whims of Sabastian and Margolis. That Mother refused to send us to school. That each day was a test of loyalty and Mother’s impression of life beyond our yard had been warped, replaced with a fear so deep the sounds of our own breaths could be seen as a threat.
Romps through the yard with our Mother as the chaser ended. Sage and I became the chasers when her ventures into the forest got longer and she returned beaten, bruised. Many times we knew right where to find her and Sage’s soothing voice was enough to bring her home. Other times she refused, even turned on us when we pleaded with her to come home.
“No,” she shouted. “There are demons in that house. They killed Yarrow and Basil.”
“Yarrow was hit by a car, mother,” Sage offered.
“No, he died because of the demons,” she paced, scratching her arm until it bled. “They want a sacrifice,” she whispered. “I won’t do it. Not again.” She ran and we followed a few paces and then stopped.
“Let’s go home,” Sage said, grabbing my hand tight.
She was thirteen then. I was six. Life had changed in just a few short years. And the only thing we knew to do was go home and wait. Our minds teetered between tamed and wild as we barricaded ourselves inside.
“Why are we locking her out?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Sage said. “I think we’re in trouble.”
“Sabastian and Margolis are missing,” We both looked out the window in the spot where they once stood.

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2 Responses to 2939 Prosper Road (Between Breath & Suffocation Sec. 4)

  1. WoW….I Love it….so intriging….keep up the great work….!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lisashani says:

    I am hooked. Checking every week to see what’s next. Truly holding my breath by the end of the post.

    Liked by 1 person

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