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October 31, 2022

The Rafters

Gina Thayer

For two days last autumn, a bat occupied our rafters. He hung upside down, peering at us, until Lucy finally called Animal Control. I did not want Animal Control in our rafters, so I called them back and said the creature flew away. The bat stayed there for three more days, then we found him dead and leathery on the floor.

Up in the rafters we kept things.
Old things we hadn’t needed in a long, long time.
Miscellaneous things unsuitable for display.
That is what rafters are for, after all:
A place for things that can’t go anywhere else.

There was nothing else noteworthy about our rafters. I could list for you all the items they contained, but I won’t. Just look in whatever attic or closet or crawlspace you use for your own assorted items, and I’m sure the contents will be largely the same. Unless you’re some kind of eccentric, or a serial murderer, or a collector of odd and disquieting objects. Which likely you aren’t. I’m certainly not.

Up in the rafters we kept things.
Dusted once a year with a feather wand.
Motes and dust bunnies and dried spider husks rained down.
Dirty things made clean again.

The day after New Year’s, I dreamt our rafters were filled with eggs. Eggs from the store, hardboiled, unpeeled. Hundreds of rubbery eggs between the beams, pressed in tight, holding themselves in place. In the morning, I detected an eggish smell inside the house – sulfuric and waxy and a little bit grey. But Lucy didn’t smell it, and when I went to check the rafters, I saw only the things we kept up there, the things I alluded to before, the things you may or may not keep yourself. That night I slept with unusual ease.

Up in the rafters we kept things.
You’ll note, of course, that I speak in past tense.
We do not keep things up there anymore.
We have not been to that place in months.
We sold the house and all its contents. Signed the contract and hurried away.
The rafters now belong to somebody else.

I wonder if the new owners have gone through our things, if they have catalogued the items we stored up there. Perhaps they were developers who bulldozed the place, razed it to the ground and vanished the debris. That would be a fine thing for them to do. What one keeps in their rafters is no one else’s business.

I wonder why I even brought the rafters up to you.