Fiction | Short Story

The Agoraphobe’s House

She drank a bottle of poison. It must have been household cleaner. His poem doesn’t specify.

twas. It goes on and on about the land and fraternity. O woe the ranked lines, their verbs reversed, thought I. Those archaic words, marshaled into antiquated forms, stank and sagged like a box of school records stored in a basement. The migraine that had been plaguing me lately let loose a tentacle, tightening muscles around my eye at the thought of reading those poems. I imagined the boredom and loneliness that would lead me to open the agoraphobe’s book. Names of foreign cities and Greek heroes spilled out. The dull, gray state I had begun in amplified, the clackety rhythm and persistent end rhymes purling off the pages, trailing fumes of headache and irrelevance. Even the agoraphobe’s name repelled me, so square and white and colonial and gone: William Ellery Leonard.

State Journal