by Laura Hutson
[Editor's Note: This is the latest installment of 'Notes From the 422nd Annual Wraiths for Writing Conference,' a biweekly series of story and art that artist Amelia Garretson-Persans has created for Country Life. Trace its roots by reading the previous entries.]
The 422nd Annual Wraiths for Writing Conference ended early that year. On my program of events I had circled “The Poltergeist’s Muse” at 11 a.m. and “The Living Snapshot” at 1 p.m., but I never got to attend them. Everyone was gone. I stepped lightly over broken glass. On the way to the girls’ dormitory to collect my travel bag, I peered into empty classroom after empty classroom. The air felt clear and cold without the hum of countless troubled energies.
Something moving in the field made me pause at a window, but it disappeared into the woods before I could see it. When I pulled away from the glass I could see a reflection of the back of someone’s head. I whirled around to greet its owner but no one was there. I turned back to the window where the reflection remained and touching my own head, discovered it was my own. With my heart beating fast, I wondered by what means all the other attendees had left and when the bus would be coming for me. I looked through my eyeless head to watch the rain grow fiercer. I was anxious to get out doors, even if it were just to soak in the downpour and squint my eyes at the road.
As I walked down the hall (quicker with every moment), I felt as if I weren’t alone after all. In between lightning strikes, my shadow moved in the darkness. Moments later, bag in hand, I hesitated in front of the dormitory exit. I had considered the outdoors the more concrete of the two realms I hovered between, but now, watching the rain stream down the glass, I wasn’t so sure. Sky, trees, and field melded together and appeared to ooze. In the wake of a thunderclap, the sound of tapping shifted into focus. I turned to follow it.
In a room I had passed earlier, a light was on. On a desk a typewriter’s keys were tapping though the chair in front it was empty. I think I dropped my bag when I drew closer to it. Though there was no paper in the typewriter, I started to collect the letters it chose in my mind and read what it was writing. I was surprised to find it was composing a poem.