Iowa (from the story vault)

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old kids
From August 1997, because it’s Thursday.
Sure, It’s a dream, but it’s a good, spooky dream.

I woke in an old, well-loved house filled with haphazardly placed furniture.

Most of the furniture had drawers, but the drawers were empty and clean. I supposed I should arrange things or fill some of the drawers, but instead, I shrugged on someone’s huge fluffy white robe and someone else’s fluffy blue slippers and started on a meandering path toward the kitchen.

It was possible to find a different route to the kitchen each time. This house had been three houses, joined like puzzle pieces to form a solid but incoherent whole. It was even possible to find a different route to a DIFFERENT kitchen, but I didn’t think about that.

Somewhere a radio declared the weather was warm, just as I lifted a shade to view the snowy backyard. Deep drifts of night snow were met by huge spiraling flakes of falling, morning snow. If it was truly warm, not just Iowa warm, I wanted to be out there. I would walk outside to find my coffee, bathrobe and all. On such a morning, coffee should be everywhere.

After finding a new way to the front door, through all three dining rooms, I ran down the street, elated to be home in the silent snowy streets. It appeared that I was the only person in town who was awake, and all the over-large, old houses seemed to sigh comfortably and turn away slightly as I passed.

I crept through a narrow alley of closed boardwalk booths and stilled arcade machines, and studied pictures of fortune tellers who were now absent. Everything here was freshly painted but abandoned.

Reaching the edge of the sea, I saw that all along the shore walked others like me, compelled to visit this new inland wonder.

Waves roiled foamlessly around raw black mountains. The water was terribly inviting: its deepest green, barely tinged with blue, promised warmth and mystery. At the water’s edge a sidewalk that had previously paralleled a vanished street, was now in places partly or completely washed by the surf. I started to walk along this path, passing purposeful strangers who studied this quiet calamity, and children skipping away from the waves.

Bodies of unlucky swimmers punctuated the sidewalk. They looked just like the others, only faded and weathered. They didn’t look particularly happy. I stepped over them with care, regretting my slippers, and wondering how so many could be seduced to swim here.

Quite suddenly, I became aware that Sparky was very uncharacteristically kissing my hair and urging me to wake up. Wake up.

I woke up to find that she’d been sleeping upstairs all along.

Waddaya think?

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