Locust House Variations, A Weekly Fiction Column by Adam Gnade, “An Inventory at the Beginning of a New Year”

The oldest book you own. The last orange you ate and where you ate it. The stack of papers on your kitchen table. The first thought you had this morning and the last one you had last night. The condiments in your fridge and the way you never think of them. The abandoned house you see tucked back in the bramble as you drive through the woods to the post office. The ice that has collected on your front porch and the lilac porch boards you see through it. The lamp in your bedroom next to the bed. Your forgotten classmates. Your gloves from Target that don’t keep your hands warm enough. Your favorite meal. Your sleeping dog. Your shoes by the front door where you took them off. Your grandfather’s gun you left under the floorboards of the chicken coop when you moved from the last place. Your dreams of tall cliffs and coastline with train tracks running along it in the shape of a snake. Your windows you stare out and the red Christmas lights reflecting in them. Your copy of The Insufferable Gaucho and the photo of you and Chente you left in it. Your red water bottle with the black top your god-son Willy left at the farm last summer. Your memories of the sea and the smell of kelp at dusk. No, it wasn’t dusk. It was late afternoon. Late afternoon standing at the top of the gray concrete staircase at the Pacific Beach Point staring down the coastline the day after you broke up with Julia when your life lay in tatters. It was that day. Late afternoon.

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