The girls are at each other’s throats, so I get them outside for a walk, to the new development. The clouds are burning off, so we keep going down the dead end so I can show them a bog and we can look for frogs and salamanders.
I point out the sign that says Critical Area, with pictures of wildlife, and I read the sign and explain what it means, all the small living things here that would be displaced by the development.
There’s a gate with a lock and an overgrown, dirt road leading back into the woods, some wire fencing denoting the adjacent lot. We walk around the gate, toward the sunbreaks through the trees and stand there, the three of us, with our eyes closed listening to the birds and the bugs.
The promise was the playground though, so we wander back up to the development: Lily keeps confusing the developments and the houses, thinks we’re near her friend Grace’s house, or Olivia’s, but I explain they all look similar, so it’s easy to get confused.
The playground is small, just one set to climb on and some wood chips. I sit on the bench with my notepad and the wind kicks up, the leaves rattle like wind chimes, dry and brittle. Some neighbors emerge from their driveways, oblivious to the dark presence that’s growing in their playground, just outside their alarm clocks and drapes.
I don’t know where he or the name comes from, or why his head looks like a brown stump, how he can breathe beneath a mask of thickened clay, on top a ten foot statue with a black suit and arms out of scale to his body, waving in the wind like tentacles, like spindly weed arms spreading spores in the wind. He strokes your shirt and leaves a smell of death, of rotten fish, puce-stained stink. His mouth is a drain, a hole, and his eyes are pits. A broken septic somewhere let him out through your window and into your dreams, last night.
I do word association to investigate Mr. Bingley: Soul Death, Depression, Stagnation, Possession, Distraction, Great Deceiver…
October is coming on before you know it. It’s time to head back now, kids.