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I think I’m the only one who can hear it, real low like one of those old-fashioned radios with the thing on the top like an insect has, antennae, going in and out, scratchy and loud. Frequency that’s what it is, I’m the one that can catch the frequency, but only sometimes and in some places like when I’m lying on the floor with my ear against the wood. Sometimes that’s when I hear it, coming up from underneath the house, just to me.

It drives my sister crazy when I lie on the floor. But it’s so much nicer down here, so much easier not to have to hold myself up, with all the world floating above me, trying so hard, and me just lying here not trying at all. It’s close to floating up against the ceiling, like the house is really tiny and something huge just flipped it upside down.

My sister also tells me that my feet are too huge and also too dirty and to get them off the coffee table, off the rug even.

 I asked her once if she could hear it, that sound, that signal, that voice, those voices…

We interrupt this program to bring you the latest breaking newsEven the voice is old-fashioned like it’s coming at me from the fifties. The nineteen-fifties, like it’s some guy with these thick glasses and a suit.She actually stopped moving long enough to listen. “No dumbshit, I don’t hear anything,” she said after a minute.

“Maybe you should listen from down here,” I said, but I knew there was no way she was going to join me on the floor of the cabin, she didn’t even really like to go anymore, said it was too dirty and there were too many bugs.

Because it was making me feel sort of jittery, I crawled all the way under the cabin one day to see if there was anything down there that might be sending me signals. Talk about dirty and bugs. Dirty bugs. Buggy dirt. I had to scootch along on my stomach and I had the flashlight in my teeth. It was fun for a little bit, fun like I was a little kid playing soldier.

There was nothing there, under the house.

 But there was something there, under the dirt. I got the signal there too, the message, from under the earth. And it was so peaceful, lying there in the dark under the house with all that dirt under me, pushing up on my almost like it was pushing down on me, almost like I could see into it, the channels and the veins. It would be nice to just stay there, to eat my meals, to sleep, with those sounds keeping me in one place, keeping me in order.

I got this idea to ride a bike into the town and see if there were any records or anything about the land, or the earth, or anything really. To see what was there, before.

 It was the first time I had gone fast in a while, and it felt, well, fast. With the trees flying by on either side. There was no wi-fi at the cabin, so I couldn’t look it up online.

I wish I could tell my sister that my feet are strange to me too. That they look like a stranger’s feet. That they look a lot like our father’s feet, not my own feet. It’s not my fault that they grew like they did, went from small boy feet to man feet in less than a year.

 They kept slipping off the pedals as I rode the bike, like I was wearing feet shoes that were way too big for me, and real sudden all I wanted to do was stop the bike and take off my huge shoe feet and have small feet underneath them again and feel the dirt underneath them because how is it that dirt feels different when you are a little kid?

I had this idea that the signal I was hearing was trying to tell me something about all of this, that it was connected.

 I knew there was a library in town because mom used to take us when we were little kids, to check out books, and I remembered shelves of old books about the history of the area, and photos and displays.

I had this thought that I was not sure what was holding the bike down onto the dirt road and that maybe it would lose the road and ride me up into the air. Gravity, dumbshit, I told myself, gravity is holding me down. But why should I even believe in gravity? Maybe they were all trying to fool me, the books and the teachers and the parents, maybe I was on a tiny stage and they were all looking down on me. Maybe that was what the signal was trying to warn me about.

 So then going to the library seemed stupid all of a sudden, because of course that was part of the trick, of course that’s what I would do, go to the library and find the material they had planted just for me. A display, get it?So obviously I was going to have to figure it out on my own, but I also thought they would probably have spies at the library to make sure I had taken the bait and I should just keep going there and pretend.

But my sister was standing right outside the library.

She was talking to someone.

A man. Not really a man. A boy, maybe. There isn’t really a word for the thing she was talking to, but he was wearing a man suit.

 And she wasn’t even my sister. I mean she was my sister but I could see in a second that she had changed. That talking to him changed her, that she became another person, one she would not want me to see. And she was wearing a white dress. And it was a sunny day. The library was white behind her too. I had noticed they liked to keep things white in that little town. And pointy. Pointy roofs and pointy steeples.

 I was pretty sure that if my sister turned and saw me that she would have a monster face with fangs and red eyes and even if it was true, I really did not want to see that, so I just waited and watched her little head go back and forth while she talked to the man pretending to be. I figured he was in on it to. They all were.




Welcome to smallSalon, a room with a fire, a black cat, and a dog named Ringo, looking out the window for phantom coyotes. A room where the many facets of family intersect: marriage, children, books, exhaustion, joy, and two unique adults fighting to find time to dig deep into their creativity. SmallSalon is several hours every week when this room is given over to their process. It is inspired by a thought, image, or event that has floated into consciousness. It is not so much about the finished work, but about the time it takes to make it–the place gone to. Kathryn Lipari is a writer. Giuseppe Lipari is an artist. Kathryn and Giuseppe Lipari have three children and live under the shadow of a towering fir tree in Portland, OR.

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