Snohomish County, Washington

All that year I was afraid of things. The screens were torn and the house was full of flies. My brother was only five but he could catch flies with his bare hand. The cat left a squirrel twitching on the kitchen floor; mushrooms pushed up the carpet in the back room; and a raccoon let himself lazily in the front door. My father disappeared often into the woods and no one followed him or spoke of his absence. He came back smelling differently and that scared me too, to think of what he might be doing under those shadowy trees. It seemed like the outside was always trying to get in, and in the dark I imagined killers and thieves tapping at the windows.

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