by Laura Hutson
(Editor's note: You may remember Amelia Garretson-Persans — our Country Life featured artist for November, and the person responsible for the exhibit of personal tarot cards that hung at The Belcourt that same month. One of the first things that I learned about Amelia is that she writes fantastic stories, the kind that I really wanted to make room for on our blog. She's agreed to write and illustrate a recurring column here that will feature short pieces from an anthology that, she says, "is vaguely to do with the 422nd Annual Wraiths for Writing Conference, which is a thing I made up." I am completely enraptured by her moody, playful storytelling, and I bet you will be too.)
In the interest of full disclosure I empty my pockets before you. In my pockets there is: a reproduction of a coin originally manufactured c. 430 B.C. and depicting the owl of Minerva; an orange button (the last remnant of my Uncle Theodore); a calling card for the venerable professor of ghost-o-logy emeritus Algernon Dogwood; and a pin from the 422nd Annual Wraiths for Writing Conference which I had the good fortune to attend this past spring.
To get to the conference you need an invitation, and the invitation arrives simultaneously with the bus that is to take you to the conference. I remember that at first the bus seemed empty, but when I began to hum to pass the time an unseen chorus buzzed along. The New England scenery leered into the gasping windows, but I batted it away with my composition notebook. Morning light managed to bounce unchecked from seat back to seat back.
The bus rolled into the quaint gravel parking area of the small hosting liberal arts college, whose students had already departed for spring break. Spirits dismounting from the bus steps began to show themselves stutteringly. Someone handed me a program of events, and I glanced over the titles of the workshops:
- Weave Your Longing Into the Wind, 9 a.m.
- Marks on the Floorboards, Wet Footprints to the Creak Unseen, 11 a.m.
- Break for Lunch, 12—1 p.m.
- A Visual Poem: The Repetition of Faces in a Crowd, 1 p.m.
- What Happened to You? How to Make Them Remember and Never Forget, 3 p.m.
- Memento Mori: The Swiftly Ripening Fruit, 4 p.m.
When I looked up, I realized I was suddenly alone in a dusky field. My only companion was a visibly darkening tree so with a shudder I scurried inside.