curio by laura ellen scott

 

 

The Second Prettiest of the Daughters

Snow forever. The farmhouse sat way back at the end of what must’ve been a driveway, but instead of tracks there was only a faithful depression, a curve of memory punctuated by a smokeless chimney. Cold. Colder. The wrong address forever.

Within, Belleek shards stick to his bald pate. Every day she throws a vase against the lintel. Every day he declares that were a close one, darlin. His sin—common, venal—produces a continuously fatal result.

The ghosts in America are all trapped, just like this, in grain with crows and old preachers everywhere. But the number is finite. There are no more new ones. Ghosts are rare as Shakers, and for the same reason.

The Irish solicitor flirted with her. Sin stacked on sin. As husband and wife, they dispatched each other by ancient means with weapons from the cupboard of American passion: an iron tool, a galloping disease, a difficult birth, inattention.

Their simple boy grew into a simple man, born into permanent virtue. He looped the lead around the ankle of his boot and struck a match to light his cigarillo. The horse bolted and dragged him for miles. Back to the farmhouse where he was born.