Deep in these woods, there is a house that’s easy to miss.
Most people, in fact, would take one look and insist it’s not there. And they wouldn’t be wrong, not completely. What they would see are a house’s remains, a crumbling foundation crawling with weeds. A house long since abandoned. But look closely at the ground here, at this concrete scarred by sun and ice. This is where the fireplace goes. If you look deeply enough, a spark will ignite. And if you blow on it, that spark will bloom into a blaze, a warm light in this cold dark forest.
If you come closer, out of the cold, the fire gets stronger, blows smoke in your eyes, tumbling smoke with a burning- pine smell that sweetens to the smell of perfume, then softens to the smell of your mother’s coat. She’s murmuring in the next room. Turn around and here come the walls, shyly, like deer emerging from the trees. Frozen concrete becomes an area rug. Take off your shoes, stay a while. Outside the wind is rising, and there comes a clacking, a close, rapid chatter. It must be the windows in their sashes. A light snow sifts from the sky, blanketing this cozy home. Tucking it in for the night. “Goodnight little house, and goodnight mouse.” Remember? For once, there is no reason to get up, no one to chase or run away from. From the kitchen comes the smell of home, the sounds of a sauté. This is how the world was once, before the first colic, the first scald, the first getting lost. And this is why you do it. “Goodnight nobody, goodnight mush. And goodnight to the old lady whispering ‘hush.’”
Get a good night’s sleep, because when you wake, this house will be gone.