Matthew Mahaney

A Cave of Our House

Sometimes I see a black horse breathing heavily in the middle of the street. It always happens between three and four in the morning: an hour I never used to find myself awake, but since we moved to the new town I’ve been sleeping less and less because of the cold. The first time I told her about the horse she dismissed it as a trick of the light, a symptom of my sleep-deprived mind, so I don’t talk about it anymore. I don’t tell her how its hooves never make a sound against the asphalt, how the faint scent of fire is always present just after it trots silently away. Each night I spend waiting to see the horse, I also spend worrying. I worry winter will make a cave of our house, that the cold will spread from ceiling to floor, will fill the space between the furniture and our bodies. I worry I will never find the source of the smell of fire. Even worse, that there is no fire; no warmth to be found anywhere except the horse’s dark, steaming mouth.

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