Literary Orphans

Welcome to Your New House! by Matt Ftacek


To the recipient of this message, please read quickly before we lose the specific details and intentions of the message in the house.

The house is a three-bedroom ranch on the corner of N. 16th and Regent. The house is a two-story farmhouse on Old Highway 68, the one we abandoned in favor of New Highway 68. It depends who you ask. The people to ask are lost in the house.

It started on an episode of Mel Garvin’s Unexplained Phenomena, season 6 episode 21 if we remember. We lost the details in the house. The house belonged to one Mrs. Billie Fay Duchamp, a hoarder without all the problems of a hoarder. Everything just disappears in the house, she says on camera. Everything just disappears in the house. The old dinette set she placed in the spare bedroom in case company came over. The 27 year collection of McDonald’s® Happy Meal® toys. The new color TV. The old color TV. The old black-and-white TV. The radios. The dog. Mr. Duchamp. The stacks of old newspaper Billie Fay keeps in case she half-remembers the name of an old acquaintance who died years ago. The metal shelves she bought when she intended to start couponing. The coupons. The groceries. The episode is unfinished because the camera and its operator are lost in the house. The original cassette tape of the episode is lost in the house. The backup copy is lost in the house. Mrs. Billie Fay Duchamp is unavailable for comment.

We claimed the house under eminent domain, filled it with scientists and mediums and generals and architects and we lost all their data and all their tools and all their persons and all their personas. We created a floorplan and lost the floorplan. We redid the landscaping and lost the landscaping. We repurposed it into a prison. We lost all the locks and doors and bars and guns but it didn’t matter because we lost the prisoners too. We filled it with plastic explosive and lost all of it. We watched the fire rise in the windows and we watched the fire get lost. That’s when we knew we had something really swell on our hands.

We filled it with all the small detritus of the earth. Plastic bottles, banana peels, used diapers, dead birds, second-hand gifts, uninformed opinions, sanitary napkins, microbeads, greenhouse gases, informed opinions, light pollution, rogue radio waves, space debris, abandoned babies, lost wedding rings, the disappointment in your daughter, credit cards, lawn trimmings, beard trimmings, fat trimmings. We lost it all in the house. It’s never been found. We placed our surprise in the house. We placed America’s supply of nuclear waste in the house, we placed all the residual radiation in the house. We placed downwinders and environmentalists and activists in the house. We placed unwanted facts in the house and then wanted facts. We found Mrs. Duchamp’s old color TV because it turns out she let her cousin borrow it a few months ago. We placed both in the house.

We placed all the unwanted seasons of the world in the house. All harsh winters, all mild winters, all winters, wet springs, dry summers, warm autumns, the polar vortex, the trade winds, the jet stream, tornado alley and all its inhabitants, the San Andreas Fault and all its inhabitants. We placed bad dreams then good dreams, day dreams, ice cream, face cream, facetime, Felix the Cat clocks, cat claws, Santa Claus, materialism, capitalism, orientalism, racism, Catholicism, light prisms, rainbows, monochromatic paintings, color paintings, colors. Skin pigments, freckles, red hair, black hair, back hair, female lip hair, male pattern baldness, postmodern blackness, unexamined whiteness, genocide witness, genocide denial, pre-contemporary history, math textbooks, Russian novels, essay collections, poetry. All are lost in the house.

We allowed everyone to throw everything in the house. We held a lottery to determine who goes first. We threw the results in the house. We threw the first up in the house. The lottery is based on your birthday, which is in the house. All calendars are in the house, all years in the house, all age and all youth and all indeterminate ages. The house is not a liminal space because we lost all liminal spaces. This is your invitation to place everything in the house. Please burn this after reading. Place the fire in the house and the ashes in the house. Make sure everything fits in a standard backpack. Please look online for the new standards, we lost our old standards.

We have a plan to place the house in the house. McGregor said to cut it in half, place one half house in the other half house. Dr. Chang says it won’t work. He did the math. He lost the math. We lost them both. Please enter the house. If the welcome mat hasn’t been lost, please wipe your feet. Place your shoes on the porch and the porch in the house.

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 Matt Ftacek is a writer living in Michigan. His writing has appeared in Dirty Chai, Heavy Feather Review, and Blue Labyrinths.

Matt Ftacek Photo

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–Art by Kaia Pieters