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  • Writer's pictureFaith Allington

Nightfall


Abandoned for years, the red farmhouse became a landmark in my childhood, glimpsed from the school bus. It sits well back from the road under slim trees that blossomed white in spring and turned gold in autumn. 

The town calls it haunted. How else to explain the bad luck that collects under its eaves, the flickers of movement where no birds sing? But despite the rumors, Max and I fell in love with it when we decided to move to the countryside. It was easy to see the future. Elaborate meals for dinner parties, our kids playing in the swings, a long-legged setter watching out for them like Nana from Peter Pan.

I come home to it now, greeted by the gradually receding smells of new paint and wood varnish, the dry coolness of its interior world. As soon as the front door shuts, the quiet encloses me and strips away all sense of time. Like a snail curled up for sleep, surrendering to the night.

It’s taken months to restore the farmhouse, choosing the brass fixtures, navigating the rot in the beams. But the living room is nearly finished, Max’s turquoise couch and bronze flamingo lamps already set in front of the big bay windows. A moving box still holds the most fragile things encased in bubble-wrap. 

I reach for a bowl of takeout ramen and start on the noodles, leaning against the accent wall. We chose it as much for the name, robin’s egg, as for the color—the palest blue just tilting green. 

On the other side of the glass, gusting wind set the trees to dancing in threads of dusk, shedding their white blossoms all over the grass like careless stars. Most of the farmhouse noises are not yet familiar, but I identify the creak of the shutters and the drip of the kitchen sink.

When my bowl is empty, I carry it into the kitchen, leaving the lights off. The copper pans hang on the wall but mostly it’s still a disaster, cluttered with unopened boxes. The hulking shadow of the fridge is empty, none of Max’s handmade orecchiette pasta, no jars of cheese-flecked pesto or glossy lemon curd.

Rachel, a voice whispers like a breath against my neck. 

Every evening at the precise instance of nightfall I feel it—the proximity of two separate planes nearly touching in the dark. The voice sounds like Max’s, but I know that isn’t possible. 

Max is gone and I’m here alone in a house meant for a family.


 


Faith Allington is a writer, gardener and lover of mystery parties who resides in Seattle. Her work is forthcoming or has previously appeared in various literary journals, including Honeyguide Literary Magazine, Hearth & Coffin, Crow & Cross Keys, The Fantastic Other and FERAL.

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