Fiction: Patrick Kelling’s “78 Facts About a Resident of Wabash Landing”

1. You change the side you’re sleeping on only when you feel the mattress folding around you.

2. In the fall you fish for spiders that may be living in your Sorels.

3. In the summer you bathe in the lake.

4. The first car you owned was a ’sixty-four Beatle that never started twice in a row.

5. The second car you owned started, but only for a week.

6. You’ve never bought a precut loaf of bread.

7. When you get tired you still rub your eyes.

8. Knowing that another cabin is closer than two clearings away makes you feel claustrophobic.

9. Once you put your mind to something it usually becomes lost in translation on the way to your hands.

10. Your favorite hook is a circle hook.

11. You suspect someone once buried Nazi gold under your potbellied stove.

12. Outside your front door you find yourself.

13. When you sleep you keep yourself safe by clenching one fist to your chest.

14. You’ll watch a mosquito bite you once, twice, just to see it expand.

15. When you hear voices they aren’t in your head.

16. As a child you grew an avocado seed in a cup.

17. Only once, on King Peak and surrounded by a lightning storm, did you think that your life was less than a coin flip.

18. You confess in empty churches.

19. You sleep once they fill.

20. The name Julie reminds you of a fish.

21. So does Dunbar.

22. Your friend stopped being your friend after you slept together, but not before you did it at least a dozen times more.

23. On cold nights the sound of exploding tree trunks no longer startles you.

24. You once opened a phonebook and said, “Look at all the words!”

25. Your heart beats the same when you get excited as it does when you’re within a hundred yards of a summit.

26. You put on your mother’s wedding ring once, but it didn’t fit.

27. You put on your father’s hunting cap, and now wear it daily.

28. You have a scar across your collar bone from a barbed-wire fence.

29. A rusted nail, a rusted mattress frame, a fragment of shale, a shovel, a crampon, a dull steak knife, and a drunk’s teeth have created a trail you can trace along your forearm.

30. On the phone you listen to people’s breathing more than you listen to their words.

31. You once opened your door and had to punch your way through a snowdrift.

32. Whenever you dream of the ocean you break into goose bumps.

33. When you chew you use both sides of your mouth.

34. When you love you feel as though you’re holding your breath.

35. You received a shotgun for your eleventh birthday.

36. You have never compared yourself to rapids.

37. You have compared yourself to the shell of a World War II bomber.

38. When you read the voice you hear isn’t yours.

39. You have not lost any toes to frostbite.

40. You think that speed overcomes a lack of skill.

41. When someone tells you to be careful you immediately look over your shoulder.

42. When someone tells you they love you, you immediately look over your shoulder.

43. You’re more interested in the spaces between the trees than the trees themselves.

44. You caught a tuna so big that your friend had to shoot it in the head to get it into the boat.

45. You have a favorite floorboard and a favorite knot in that floorboard.

46. Embers attract you.

47. You’ve never been fly fishing.

48. Opera sounds like something you wished you liked.

49. Your coffee pot has six months’ worth of tea bags sitting at the bottom.

50. When challenged physically you rock onto your heels.

51. When you think no one is watching, no one is.

52. You smile with your gums.

53. Some people are impressed by your sewing abilities.

54. You stack stones along the shoreline to see how long they withstand the tide.

55. You love handing children back to their mothers.

56. The fragrance of roadkill doesn’t always repulse you.

57. You wonder if one day you too will reel in a severed toe.

58. You have blown your nose on a goatskin rug.

59. A boy you knew in grade school was mauled by a grizzly bear.

60. A girl you knew in grade school shot his father.

61. You joke about global warming.

62. You wonder if it’s facts or stories that lead you to think you know someone.

63. You wonder how long it takes a lost lure to reach the bottom.

64. The biggest celebrity you’ve ever seen is the man who shot the grizzly that mauled your schoolmate.

65. Once you met George Harrison in a fever dream.

66. The taste of sap attracts you.

67. You don’t know what silence sounds like, but other people think you do.

68. If you sleep on moonless nights you don’t know it.

69. Once you’ve won something you usually don’t have a problem giving it back.

70. Often you forget to wash your hands after pulling radishes.

71. You link paperclips together and string them across your windows.

72. You can’t whistle so you click.

73. The palms of your gloves wear out first.

74. You admire the way some people thread fishing hooks.

75. Sometimes you look up and see the sun at three in the morning.

76. Sometimes you look up and see the moon at three in the afternoon.

77. Your favorite breakfast is grilled salmon on toast.

78. Searching for the farthest along the horizon is your favorite pasttime.

***

Patrick Kelling is a doctoral student in the creative writing program at the University of Denver and is the fiction editor for Gambling the Aisle.

Photo credit: “Over the Yukon in a T-33: King Peak,” The Volstad Gallery

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