I walk for thirty days before I find the dream house, tilting on its axis, sunk in its vault of green. The wooden porch is soft with rot. I prise open the front door and the smell of crabbed apples clamps itself across my mouth, cool as a corpse's hand. Insects drop out of the air and die on the windowsills. I press on. A slim tree is growing up through the chevronned boards of the hall. I rub one of its leaves and release the fragrance of geranium, or crysanthemum, as surprising to me as a fragment of song.
I feel in my pocket for the half bottle of whisky and find with it a key, like the key to a safe. or the key to knowledge. What do I do? Do I unlock the treasure of this house or will I in my turn lose the key and remain as unconvincing as the last or the next finder?
Beyond the blue staircase is a room with the letter M stencilled on it. I push the door and pull it close again quickly. my heart is beating like a live owl in a cage. Behind the door is a lost child. A girl. I push the door again. There she is again. I blink. Too much whisky. Or not enough? She is a puppet child, mimicking grief but not experiencing it. She throws an antique glove in my direction and as I catch it both glove and child vanish, leaving the sweet stink of dead mouse on the air. My mouth is painful. I can taste the family jewels of grief and they are dark: beryl, tourmaline, jet. I close the door, shaken. My steps, footprints in someone else's skin, invite me to walk backwards, back through the hall, past the slim tree, into a porch and out onto a thirty day walk.