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Tag Archives: children


I sat on the back step last night, looking out toward the moor where the silhouette of my daughter Emilia paced along the edge of the property. When the crickets quieted down, I could hear her voice calling out softly, “Mama? Mama?”

Emilia’s mother, Madolyn, had passed away from complications of pneumonia the year before. Her parents had wanted her body flown out to Montana, to be laid to rest in a family plot, but I couldn’t bare the thought of her being taken away from Emilia and me. I had her interred in the nearby Maple Grove Cemetery. At night, if I looked out my bedroom window, I could see the stone wall in the distance that marked the edge of the lot, and wish my beloved good night. Read More »

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I don’t celebrate Halloween. When the trick-or-treaters come out and start prowling my street, I make sure to keep my front porch light off, and pull the shades down. If someone rings my doorbell despite all my precautions, I hide in the bedroom and pray they don’t ring it again. There’s always a fear that maybe it’s not a child in a ninja turtle mask or wearing a sheet over their head.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s Granny Clark. Read More »


I got this package in the mail from my dad: brown paper wrapping, large but flat, with the word “FRAGILE” written on it in black ink. When I unwrapped it, it was this big, acrylic painting, framed in some sort of bronze-gilded plaster.

The painting itself was of this long hallway full of doors, kind of like you’d see in a fancy hotel. The walls had edging about halfway up, the upper part was painted sort of an off white while the lower half was a crimson red that blended into the carpeting. Between each door was an up-turned light, as well as on the far wall at the end, where the corridor seemed to connect to another hallway running perpendicular to it, disappearing around a corner. Read More »


My father has always been somewhat eccentric, prone to tall tales of his childhood, keeping collections of old knickknacks and assorted antiquities he’d find at auction, and strict adherence to bizarre house rules. Growing up in his home, the same home he grew up in, that was passed down from generation to generation, took a lot of willpower. He would say it “built a lot of character.” My mom would always say he was a character.

So it came as no surprise to me when a friend in the area called to let me know my dad had caught a case of pneumonia after they’d found him wandering around during the season’s heaviest snowfall in just an old pair of jeans and a wife beater. Since my mother had passed away, his bizarre behavior had grown increasingly erratic.

Some good Samaritans offered to drop in once or twice a day, but I didn’t want them to have to deal with my his idiosyncrasies, so I drove up to the old homestead to nurse him back to health myself. I hadn’t been back to that house since I’d finished school back in 1998. It had always been a point of contention between us, but I just never felt comfortable there.

When I arrived, my father was curled up on the couch in the living room, wrapped in blankets and watching old episodes of The Woodwright Shop on the same TV he’d had for thirty years. I gave him a hug which he mostly ignored in favor of sipping at a cup of tea.

“It’s good to see you, Dad.”

“You know, it shouldn’t take me catching pneumonia to get you to come visit,” he grunted.

“How’d you end up with no shoes in the middle of a snowstorm?”

He stared at the television, trying to ignore me.

“What were you doing out there, Dad?”

“If you’re going to stay, make sure you follow the rules. You remember the rules, don’cha?”

I sighed. “Yes, Sir.”

“So let’s hear them.”

“Don’t touch the thermostat. Don’t leave lights on in rooms you aren’t occupying. Replace any food you take from the fridge.”

“And stay out of the basement.”

The basement.

“Because of the Jack Monster,” I said.

My father nodded and sipped his tea. Read More »


It was my friend Tommy’s 11th birthday and my first sleepover. My mom dropped me off at his house in the afternoon. It looked modest from the front, but when Tommy led me inside, I discovered that it was actually fairly big, with at least five large rooms on the first floor alone.

“My mom set us up in the basement.” He said, leading the way to a small door just off the kitchen pantry.

I envisioned a dingy cellar like the one my family had. Ours was a single, tiny room that looked like miners were still in the process of digging it out. Nobody spent the night in our basement unless they had eight legs and six eyes and shot webbing out of their ass.

Tommy’s basement was like a whole other house. There was a small room with a couch at the bottom of the stairs, but in the far wall was a swinging door leading into a kitchen almost as big as the one we had just left. In the basement kitchen there was another door leading out to the back yard, and a long hallway that extended deep under the house.

“Jesus,” was all I could muster.

“The basement was set up as an apartment to rent out by the people who lived here before us.” Tommy explained. He pointed down the dim hallway. “The first door on the left is the bathroom. Second door is a closet. We’ll be sleeping in the bedroom on the right.”

“What’s the door at the end?” I asked. Read More »