Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 36
Spring Equinox, 2020

Featured artwork, Broken Tulip, by Andrew Davis.

New Works

Zebulon Huset

Snow falls. Drive home.

Wind drives snow in the direction of bright stars. Migrating. My mom, dad, and I. Baby in a pale blue car seat. Plaid cotton padding. Green and red. And pale blue. Outside white and black. Sometimes both as light bounces and sinks into rushing ice particles seemingly at random.

A blizzard is labeled not for snowfall but wind. Snow may be plowed from streets easily. Wind is another matter to plow.

['91 was the year of the Great Halloween Blizzard. I would trick or treat through much of it. Chrome Jason mask. Bloody. Alone. This story takes place well before that blizzard, but only came to me much afterwards, when I had to Google Halloween Blizzard for the year. Now earthquakes worry me more than blizzards.]

My dad driving. Home. Toward home, it turned out. Leaving Uncle Chuck's house.

[Chuck's name, now, seems fitting. A ruralness to it. Leaving Chuck's is a dramatic return to civilization.]

Hundred miles back. Give or take. I had poured my sobs into the car until they filled all our ears and pooled at our feet, then set to recharge my cry-battery.

[Leaving Chuck's is a celebration. Mom calls him willful. '"That's a nice way to put it." Dad says]

The drive is slow when the air is moving at you as fast as you are moving at it. It's called drag. Like of a cigarette.

[Dad still smoked Marlboros then. Worked every day at the same place. Had only been in the neighborhood a couple years, but made friends. Heckmans next door. Mike was just younger than Zach. Older brother by 4 years. Zach wasn't with us. Mom didn't say where he was.]

[I sat on my futon 1500 miles away from my old room, which became the computer room in my extended absence, and heard this story of my childhood for the first time. We hadn't spoken all that much before I left. Or since.]

Very cold. My dad worried about black ice. It liked to hide on cold snowy nights. Wait for young families to pass by, and then ambush tires. Send cars into ditches, roll them like aluminum cans. To destroy: its dark purpose.

It's not really black. It's clear. Death-smooth. Snow sits on top of it like leaves over the twigs over the knee-deep hole in the sandbox.

It hid well that night. Snow packed under tires into plain white ice.

[Easier to salt/sand. The combo works better than either alone I learned when 16 at my first job. Salt melts ice. Sand grabs tires.]

[Our back door used to have a distinct squeak. Only when she didn't want to wake us. She'd let the door's top edge squeeze just too tight against the top frame edge. I'd hear the three steps to prepare for bed. Shoes, nametag, apron. The kitchen light switch sticks. Just enough to send its forced click down the hall to my pale pillow. Her socked feet padding in slow shuffles to her door. All that waterbed to herself and she's too tired to enjoy it.]

They'd heard it was possibly a blizzard. What do they know on the radio. Didn't look so bad. Better than staying at Chuck's another night.

In a blizzard there is no real ground line. No clear cut place where ground and air meet. Snow coasts up drafts almost as much as it skydives.

Snow halfway up the grill of black 2-door when it finally wouldn't forge ahead like a good lead dog. Only a block from home. Up to mid-thigh behind trees. The snow whisked around my Dad's legs like curious spirits in a family movie. Frozen crystals of an eternal hourglass.

[We always lost the electronic timers. We tried to keep them in the Big Boggle box. Never worked. The egg timer always there though. Not in high demand. We had four players, then. Then three, then we grew out of words more or less, at least when in the same room.]

The scene, no doubt, a snowglobe. What should be a busy street wearing the thick quilt of winter. Car stopped just past a streetlight barely managing to cast its light to the ground. Half buried. No other cars for miles. No lights visible at all. Man carries three large bags. Woman trails behind with baby swaddled in woven zarape blanket mailed from aunt in Arizona. Man walks closed-legged to clear a better path for the woman to follow in. Shuffling legs like miniature shovels straining with every step. Houses so close you could touch them, but not see them unless a benevolent being shook the globe.

[Are the figures attached to the ground, or would that shake loosen them from their place on the earth and cast them to the glass top, separate them, blanket unraveling in the whirlwind currents?]

[There was a story about a pregnant woman in Kansas or Missouri or Nebraska. Never where you were, but close. She was sucked up into a tornado, and was forced into labor, umbilical cord cut by shrapnel, and she landed on a pile of hay, healthy baby boy in her arms. Who could question that?]

No sooner than the door slipped soundlessly against the frame....

[Before the house started sinking slowly enough to avoid any costly fixing of it, before it squeaked when you tried to let your children sleep through your arrival home from a second job at 3:30am.]

My mom remembered my baby formula lonely on the back seat. Lone refugee. Dad laughed.

['"Dad laughed?" I asked, '"Then?" '"Sure," mom said from her cell phone in that same house that once held my dad's laughter, '"I mean, what else could he do? You needed to eat. He just put his hat back on and walked out." The phrase with altogether the wrong connotations. Not the case here. No sob story about divorce. It was clean enough. No daytime cable movies of a custody battle. He hadn't even initiated it. I never saw the inside of a courtroom. Then I almost never saw dad.]

[Or mom.]

[She didn't tell me what happened to the car the next day. If the plows came by and crushed it up against a pole, or where Zach was, or when she realized she didn't love that man in the snow globe anymore. She had to go. I did, too. '"Talk to you soon," I said, knowing it would be weeks at least. '"Love you, Zebby," she said, as she always said. I said '"I love you, too," as I always did. Was there any more to the story? Of course there was. It led up to the end button sliding back from my cell's plastic face. It followed '"I love you, too," as it always does. It has to.]

Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. His writing has recently appeared in The Southern Review, Louisville Review, Fence, Rosebud, Meridian, North American Review, Cortland Review, Portland Review, Texas Review and Fjords Review, among others. He publishes a writing prompt blog Notebooking Daily with its print companion Notebooking Periodically and is the editor of the fledgling journal Coastal Shelf.