Hanging Out at Mohican

I close the front door behind me and step down from the porch. The porch is collapsing towards the house and will need to be repaired. Across the yard, my wife is leaning on the car parked against the curb, on the street called Mohican Way. The late summer sun is streaming in below the trees and everything is warm and gold. Wind rustles the leaves high overhead. Tallest trees I’ve ever seen. Any one them could take out half the neighborhood if it fell.

“Well?” I ask. She’s getting her sense of the neighborhood.

Our girls are strapped in their carseats. The windows are open. The dog squirms in my wife’s arms and she calms him with a whisper and a scratch. She turns to look at another house across the street. She nods yes.

She doesn’t seem 100 percent.

“Yes,” she says again.

A few weeks later we are in bed in the house, trying to get used to being in bed in the house.

“It looked better with their furniture,” I say, my book lying open across my chest.

She gazes in silence at the dark hallway beyond the door. The floor fan hums and swivels, blowing air past my face.

“Our furniture looked good in our house.”

She says nothing. The cat blinks between us.

I envision us replacing window treatments. Pulling down wallpaper borders. Putting in a ceiling fan with a light.

“How did they live here so long without a light?” I wonder.

The floor fan clacks and turns the other way, towards my feet.

“There was a lot of love in this house,” she says.

She’s serious. She can feel these things.

“Is there a ghost?” I ask. I’m serious. I don’t want there to be. She’d once said there was a ghost in my house, the house I grew up in. She said it was a good ghost. This was news to me, but when she said it, it made sense. It explained some things. And I realized she was right when I was alone packing my parent’s things after they had decided to move. The sense of panic and fear, the sense of something crying out no, stop raised the hair on my arms and made me cry out I’m sorry.

When we viewed this house, the woman who owned the house had come back with her dog as we were leaving, saying sorry but she couldn’t keep the dog out any longer. When we met later to discuss repairs on the sunken porch, she told us she’d raised four kids in the house, then went on about how all the kids’ friends loved to “hang out at Mohican.” When we closed on the house, she told us how she’d wanted to sell last summer but she wasn’t ready. When I drove by the night before closing, she was outside watering the hostas.

It’s six months later and I’m coming down the stairs. I turn the corner into the kitchen and I don’t feel at home. I feel like I’m coming down the stairs into someone else’s kitchen.

I want to go home.

It’s four years later and my wife and I are lying in bed in the new house. Unpacked boxes clutter every room. Some of them were never unpacked at the old house. Some have stickers from both moves. We’re more comfortable in this bedroom, and after a few minutes my wife says, “Does this house feel more like us than the other?”

I place my book flat across my chest. “Yes. But we knew that already.”

She taps the cat on the nose and says,”Whoever lived here before us was ready to leave.”

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33 thoughts on “Hanging Out at Mohican

  1. I love the way you write – you approach subjects my feeble brain would never think of and turn them into something, something with real weight and meaning. Such a real feeling, not being at home in your own home – is this from personal experience? Liked the ghost reference too – short but genuinely creepy. Thanks so much – your fiction is always a pleasure to read

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    • Thanks, Lynn! Actually this is a mostly true story. My wife actually said those things, pretty much verbatim. We did move from Texas to Ohio and back, and we did feel like the house in Ohio wasn’t ours. Even the part about the ghost is true. She said that about the ghost, and I felt that feeling moving out my parents things. Weird, huh?

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      • Not just weird – fascinatingly so! I think I’m too closed to pick up on stuff like that – and too much of a cynical old bag.
        Only one real experiece like out.
        We live in a house that’s around 100 years old, a bit run down and leaky, a bit thrown together. My son, who was about two years old at the time, was standing by the back door, where it’s a bit gloomy, a bit chilly. It was nighttime. My son was talking quietly to himself, having quite a conversation. I asked him what he was doing. He turned to me with the biggest, most cherubic smile and said, ‘I’m talking to the lady.’
        We were suddenly in the Shining, Poltergeist, The Turn of the Screw.
        Needless to say, I whisked him off to play something loud and colourful.
        It just confirmed what we all know – kids are weird 🙂

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      • Woah! That just gave me goosebumps! You set the scene for that one quite well in just a few words. Probably just a kid being a kid. But you never know. I guess the Lady never returned, though? I’m not sure I could live in a house that old. I stayed in a farmhouse once as a kid that had been used as a civil war hospital. They said in some places you could still see blood stains on the wood floor. Then they gave me a bed upstairs while everyone else slept downstairs, on the opposite side of the house, no less. I was so terrified a didn’t sleep a wink!

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      • Woah back at you! Were you a very bad child and being punished for something, because that’s an awful thing to do to a kid – and a brilliant setting for a story! You must have based some writing round that, if not you should. Were there really blood stains? Lor, that’s truly creepy.
        No, the Lady never made another appearance, and he wasn’t a kid for invisible friends. I’d like to know what she said to him and he to her – maybe not.
        I lived for a time in my dad’s old house – a thatched, beamed farmhand’s cottage, first built in the seventeenth century. It had the original red brick fireplace, a fantastic Chinoiserie carved wooden door supposedly from a local manor house that had been demolished years earlier. Now that place has appeared in a few stories I’ve written. Love a creepy setting 🙂

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      • At the time it happened, it didn’t occur to me to tell anyone I was terrified. I just gritted my teeth and hunkered down for the night. Looking back, I wonder why I didn’t speak up and say, uh…look you guys, this is not cool with me. But as I said, it never even occurred. As a kid, I just followed orders. And though I’ve thought about writing about it, I never have. I don’t know that I’d want to live in a house from the 17th century. Who knows what all has gone on in there, or who lived there that never left!

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  2. I remember that other piece… it was enraging. This one feels familiar, like I’ve felt this type of thing before when moving out of and into places. I feel that I’ve left ghosts behind too, in one place in particular.

    Great writing, as always. Felt like I was moving through years effortlessly. Mostly though, I love the voice you’ve assumed here. Feels so genuine and I felt immersed. Can only thank you for this – there is so little great fiction on WordPress, but you consistently bring it Walt.

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    • I thank you, good sir. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you. I felt those two pieces were connected since they are both true, took place in the same house, and involved my wife’s sixth sense. Thanks for the compliments on the writing – one day I’d like to go raw though and rip open my chest and scream, Trent Lewin style.

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      • Both true… that’s quite a thing. As for ripping open the chest and screaming… it’s an energy-intensive exercise and fails far more than it succeeds. But when it works, it feels very good.

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  3. Great to hear and see these scenes of you and your family – wishing you contentment and peace as you settle in. – Bill

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    • Yes, both pictures are Ohio. Kind of my own way of saying goodbye. Plus, since I don’t live there anymore, no one will be able to track me down and start a fisticuffs just by looking at the pic, or by the geotagging, or what have you. They will be starting their fisticuffs with the wrong guy, you see.

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  4. When I bought my house, I did not like the bedroom, so consigned it to my room mate and shifted down stairs, her dog, a Peke that never played, ever, right at 10:00 pm would go round the living room, get petted good night, then trot to the bedroom, yap and tussle, romp like a puppy with someone only the dog could see. We got used to it, and my roomie, a drunk generally passed out. Hope your new digs are happy, Walt.

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      • Odd, Walt, the poor dog croaked on the kitchen floor, after a long drink of water. ..Texas, you are brave, the weather has been shite kicker down there..

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      • It has, I guess, but I would rather face three weeks of +100 degrees (F) than three weeks of sub-zero temps. But I grew up here, and since I’ve been back, I haven’t been bothered by the heat. I’m like, oh yeah, this is what a summer is supposed to feel like. And oddly enough, I still find myself dreading the onset of winter. I keep having to remind myself that it’s usually summer here. Winter doesn’t really have much say about anything. I know that, intellectually, but I still keep thinking this won’t last. That’s what Ohio did to me. But you are even farther north, so what about you? What are your thoughts on the seasons in your neck of the woods?

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    • I can’t see that far into the future, Mike. Since I graduated college (20 years ago) I’ve never lived anywhere more than four years (and that was in Ohio, where we’d planned to stay until the kids were grown). I get bored with my work after 2-3 years and need something new. I wasn’t meant to put down roots, I don’t think, but I have a wife and kids — I’m not sure how to make this work. I did buy a Mega Millions ticket tonight, so when I cash out my cool 72 million, I think my troubles will be over.

      Funny you should comment today. I was thinking about you and wondering what you were up to. Hadn’t seen any posts from you in the Reader for a while. That said, we know the Reader can play tricks with us. I just found out today that another blog I follow had dropped out of my reader and I had to re-follow. Not the first time it’s happened. Anywhoo, hope all is well.

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  5. Enjoyed this short story not just for the content which resonates with most of us, nor just for the writing style which flowed so smoothly but also because it encompasses so much in so little. One of the hardest things to do with a short story, and rarely have I read such a fine example.

    Liked by 1 person

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