Loren and the Broom
She might have had a name, but not so far as anyone in Edgewather knew. When it rained, you could always see her out there with a hat and a cheese sandwich. It was as if she had brought the rain by taking her first bite. Out there on the Plaines, people knew she was sad because the corn would make the stretching sound of a rubber balloon as it continued to grow. And since she had arrived, nobody had ever seen the mountains because of the fog. The young people thought it was a coincidence, but the old people knew that it was because of her. They knew because she had come once before, during the blizzard of ’49.
The blizzard of ’49 was a different kind of blizzard, because you could go outside in your shorts and flip flops. Sure, after thirty minutes you started to get chilly, but until then you could pelt your friends with snowballs, saucer down Garbage Hill, or make a snowfamily complete with one half of a duplex. And you could see her arrive out of the fog, feet first, then arms, then torso, until she looked like the headless horsewoman, bereft of horse. Finally, her head condensed and she appeared to Edgewathertons like an orphan on the streets at Christmas, until the Meldickis agreed to take her in.
Funny thing about the Meldeckis: after they took her into their house, they never seemed to come out of it. Sure you could see them waving from the windows and it looked like they were having a great time, but even after the girl had long since disappeared, nobody saw them walk to the street for mail, or at the grocery store, or even saw the dog outside doing his show biz. They were confined, somehow.
And that’s why Loren decided to run her out of town. Though her friends took the girl to the movies and lusted after her and invited her over for slumber parties, Loren knew she had to do what needed to be done. So one rainy October night, she went out to the cornfield with her broom.
The nameless girl stood there in the murky dusk, slowly chewing the processed cheese that was shaded from the rain by her hat. Loren said “I’m here to do what needs doing.”
The girl kept chewing at the same speed, not looking at Loren, or at anything at all. Loren said “Get out of here and don’t come back.”
Now the girl looked at her and Loren could see her faceless face with the nameless name on the bodiless body. Loren thought that perhaps she would fancy a scream, but she remembered her upbringing and raised the kitchen broom instead. She reiterated “Get out of here, you nameless haint.”
Now the faceless face with the nameless name let out a sound that came from all over the world. It was a raspy, humorless laughy sound and it closed in on Loren like thunder out in a cornfield-an apt comparison, because she was in one. Loren stepped closer, wielding the broom.
The faceless face with the nameless name stepped closer, too. Loren stepped closer still. So did the faceless face. So did Loren. So did the girlless girl. And Loren. And She. Loren. She. And soon enough, Loren and the empty girl were standing face to face beside a particularly crooked stalk of corn.
Loren could smell nothingness. Emptiness. And so she started to became. A faceless face. A nameless name. But then, something called. It was The Broom. And The Broom said “Get out of there, Loren. Get ahold of yourself and take me home. You left the kitchen floor all of a clutter and I wish to sweep it away.”
Loren didn’t know what happened next because she was pretty empty by then but she must have dropped the broom because it hit her in the leg and caused her to fall over. She fell right into the nameless faceless and the Loren that was Loren got knocked out of that girl and back into the broom wielder, just like it was before the rain. So the nameless girl started to scream. It got louder and louder until Loren felt like her ears were about to takeoff from her head like a seven forty seven if she didn’t just up and do something. So she took the fallen broom and shoved it at the girl. The screaming stopped, but the girl didn’t. Loren hit her with the broom again, and her head disappeared, right into some fog that seemed to start right above her shoulders. Loren lashed out with the broom again and again, and pretty soon her arms were gone. Then her legs. Then only her hat was left. So Loren picked it up, went home, and tidied the kitchen.
Then for some reason, Loren put the hat on the broom and put it by her bed.
The broom never left the house again. It never had to.