Outside of the Estate
The younger sister was sure that she stood inside of the estate’s garden: yellow flowers grew along the gravel path, hedges appeared well-trimmed, and the birds—although their chirps grew less frequent as she walked—flitted from branch to branch above. A roe deer sniffed through the underbrush. She walked. Her missing sister couldn’t be far.
The sun was sinking when, breathless and having lost sight of the stone wall that surrounded the grounds, she called her sister’s name but heard no reply. Had she passed beyond the limits of the property; was she outside? The possibility frightened her. To be on the outside was to open oneself to loss and attack.
She should, she knew, return to inside the grounds immediately. The risk she took was enormous. The territory was unknown. But her sister was still absent and certainly in danger. Violent men lurked outside of the estate and preyed on unlucky travelers. So she wandered through the forest, moving farther from her home and called her sister’s name with increasing tenderness.
The End of History
There it was.
Or there it came, more accurately, rolling in over low hills as a swarm of locusts descending on our cities, an electronic plague.
We will have been freed from the burden of years and the burden of marking time’s motions. Art will serve its purpose by making observations about the material world. It is still here. It is still here.
So we’ll farm; we’ll plant our gardens in tune with the rhythm of seasons soaked through in time frictionless as a sound.
The first detail she noticed in their hotel room was the small gnome statue, not more than two inches tall, that glared down from the top of the television and had clearly been left behind by the previous guest as a kind of practical joke.
On Sunday afternoon, as they were about to leave, he explained that he would rather not keep any trinkets or mementos to remember her by, nothing from their long weekend together since, as he put it, the fling had been a disaster and now they both had to drive several hours to different cities, back to their respective lovers, filled with mild embarrassment.
While he was in the office paying their bill, she pulled the gnome down from its perch, walked to the parking lot, and tucked the gnome under a blanket in his trunk, where she hoped he would never find it. As she watched him drive off, she imagined the gnome gently rocking with the motion of the car, held like a secret.
Incessant windstorms kept him from sleeping. The threat of imminent war had hung over the country for weeks and kept him in an agitated state. Through the wind he heard a thin cry. There were panthers, he knew, in the area, and he suspected the sound was one’s scream. But the ending of the fading shriek sounded deeper, throatier. Human.
Was there, he wondered, a woman screaming in the dark? Was there an attacker; had the violence outside already begun? The cry came again. Perhaps it was not a woman but a young man calling out wordlessly. Or, worse: it could be a child, a helpless victim of violent hatreds. But this scream ended in an animal snarl. A panther. He would not leave his home until the animal moved off. It would not concern him until morning, when he would search the property for footprints.
But there, still closer: a second shriek, a second voice. This one was unquestionably human. Almost certainly a child. It built in urgency until it consumed the first cry, the sound of the panther, and dissolved the vast world into its swells and tremors.
Connor Fisher lives in Athens, Georgia. He has an MA in English Literature from the University of Denver, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and just completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Georgia. His poetry and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Dreginald, Figure 1, Typo, the Colorado Review,
Posit, Cloud Rodeo, Tammy, and the Denver Quarterly.