The Field, A Religion
Rosie Forrest

They parked the camper in the field behind the house, a house not their house except that it used to be. The field remained their field because it was land, fertile land, and the garden flourished maniacally despite the new owners of the house who appeared to have forgotten that the house sat on land. The old wire fence was overgrown with bursts of purple loosestrife and Ravennagrass, and deep inside the unkempt plots, lived squash as big and naked as babies. The family living in the camper spoke of the garden that hadn't been cared for as "the pool," pretending it into some other existence, twisting green into blue and earth into water. 

The new family, all four of them, stared at the old family through the kitchen window, and the old family, all four of them, stared back through compact trailer windows that framed each face like a photograph. The lights in the house were amber, but less so than the candle lights in the camper, and the family in the camper were proud of their flickering lights, darker and richer than the eco-friendly light bulbs illuminating their old home from within.
Both mothers thought to say hello, to walk through the overgrown grass with skirt fabric bunched in a fist, to knock, one, two, five times, maybe four. Both fathers thought to leave a note, different notes, that would begin with a description of the neighborhood cat, which belonged to no one, and they would sign their respective notes, with kind regards.

The old family had boys and the new family had girls, and the girls could see that the boys were attractive in a lanky, adolescent way that would in three years time fill out and offer the girls something broad and sturdy and worth leaning into. The boys thought one of the two girls was pretty, the way she danced her legs in bendy postures, but the other girl had wide knees and a flat face, though they did not watch her less because of it.

In daylight, the daughters tumbled in the grass behind their house, and they played a game that involved keeping a beach ball aloft in the air. In the dark, the sons sprinted from one side of the field to the other, racing until their knees bled from rocks that imbedded in their skin when their feet tangled behind them.
A month went by and then it was the old mother's birthday, and there was a modest party behind the camper with newspaper confetti and ginger ale. The new family wasn't invited, but the next day, the less pretty sister left oatmeal cookies on a paper plate and had stuck a Post-it to the rim that read: I hope it isn't over. There was much discussion in the camper that night as to what she meant by "it," and whether "it" was as insignificant as a middle-aged woman's birthday party or as monumental as existence.
There was no great marriage of these families into a single unit. Nor was there ever a confrontation in which tomatoes were flung as weapons or ambulance sirens sung out like whale calls from the cold Atlantic.

One night the fathers switched places, and the mothers tried to fit themselves against the foreign men in their beds, and both mothers curdled beneath the covers until they cloaked their strange men from behind.

One night, a different night, the boys broke into their old home and escaped out the front door when they couldn't smell themselves having lived there anymore. All four children rode the bus to school, and they each claimed a window in a separate vinyl seat.

In time, the field grass swallowed the camper wheels whole, camouflaging black inside of a tall, green wall, and the house across the field required better insulation and a more substantial roof.

In time, each family found the plight of the other disconcerting.

In time, the families learned to revere and resent the space between, a space both ancient and visionary, where the model of what had once been and what would never be melted like hot metal and cooled and reformed and melted again, molten and steel, until it was some kind of god.

Rosie Forrest lives in Nashville. Her collection, GHOST BOX EVOLUTION IN CADILLAC, MICHIGAN, was selected by Pamela Painter as the winner of Rose Metal Press' 9th annual Short Short Chapbook Contest and will be published this summer.

Detail of art on main page courtesy of Thiago Fonseca.

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