Her husband cut his hand off and wouldn’t tell her how it happened, and in the days after the hospital he was antsy, kept an eye over his shoulder. He said only it was sharp. She threw away the buzzsaw and the arch welder and the sander, and when that didn’t put him at ease she also threw away the kitchen knives. Still he didn’t sleep. At night he sat on the edge of the bed and stared out the window at the back yard, where the bushes had overgrown, and she asked, did it happen with the loppers? She didn’t recall him doing yardwork that day. She did recalled a storm that rustled the leaves over the ground and made it sound in the house all day like something whispered. She had dreams of things that looked in from outside, bright eyes in the windows like cats in headlights. They said do you know what he did? And she said she didn’t know and he wouldn’t tell her. After that when she went outside to take out the trash she tread quite softly and watched the mounds of earth below those bushes pulsate and throb as though something were about to break loose.
At first, it was only simple misplacements: lost letters, single socks, missing car keys, couch change in the form of hay pennies and rare silver dollars. Then it was things our family had wondered about for years: lost photos, deeds to shotgun houses, records from Ellis Island, books of poetry grandmother wrote, bayonets used by cousins in the war. A great many things thought gone forever pushed their way up her esophagus, straining her throat muscles to the point of near tearing. So much blood when it happened (but so much it couldn’t possibly be all hers). When another thing came up she would stumble gagging to the bathroom, her throat a froggish bulge, her body heaving in great labor, and we all thought surely, surely it wasn’t our fault. No, it must have been someone else’s curse, something she did to create such a void in her innards that summoned things from a shadow world. It could not be, our family whispered, as the wet sounds echoed from the bathroom, it could not be because we had forgotten we put those things inside her. Our family whispered many things to themselves, muttering as they searched for mis-addressed letters, their broken car keys, their rare change. They whispered many things, but then they quickly lost their train of thought.