An insistent voice outside the dining room door.
A man calling, the voice unrecognizable in everything but its urgency.
I poke my head through the door.
Silence. Trees still, no breeze, no birdsong. Summer evening shadows gather in silence. There is no man, no one to claim that strong voice.
The New England house is old. It dates to the 1840’s officially, but has evidence of far greater age.
An entire tree of a girth now unknown to the region supports the west end of the house from north to south. It was hewn by an adze and preserved in fossilizing whale oil. On the east end of the house, an ancient well is preserved in the depths beneath the living room.
Ancient headstones have been found beneath the porch.
The electrician rewired the empty house in the early evenings as the long summer twilight gathered. He heard someone calling him outside, and running to see who it was found only silence.
He heard a woman’s tread wearing the floorboards upstairs always in the same spot, always pacing, in the day’s dusky in-between time. He never saw her, but he called her The Walker, and would tell me, “She’s walkin’, oh, yes she’s walkin’. And waitin’,” and turn back to his work rewiring.
Sometimes in New England past and present merge, and the living coexist with the dead.
My old school bus driver visits the neighbor across the street in a house even older than mine. I remember his father was an eminent local historian. There is living history preserved between my bus driver and my neighbor, they are both close to 90 years old.
I ask them about my house, the old house called Moonstone for the white round quartz set in the front stone wall that really does look like the man in the moon.
“In 1923 a man drove his car clear through the back of your barn. Through the wall. Dropped 20 feet down. He meant to reverse out, but went forward and straight through instead. Ohh, he was alright, but the car wasn’t.”
The corpse of the Model T rests behind my back stone wall, in many rusted pieces.
“A boy lived in your house, early 1920’s. He was young, about twenty years old. Fitted the gauge of his truck to match the rail tracks out back to bring his gear to work the cranberry bog beyond the tracks more easily. One day the train came in fast and killed him. He never came home, long as his mother waited.”
Another early summer evening.
“Hello, Hello!” This time from the porch, and this time my six year old hears it with me, and together we run to see what is so urgent.
I act on instinct. “Hello Man, welcome, please come in.” I throw the porch door wide. “You’re welcome here anytime, Hello Man.”
I have named him and welcomed him home.
The walker is still now, the calls of hello silent.