YOUR HOUSE ON ZILLOW by Stephanie King

You died on a Wednesday. In the years since, when the anniversary falls on a different day of the week, everything feels off somehow. That dreamy, floaty feeling of a day, like trying to describe what it is to have loved – but not like that – a man who is gone. They say men and women can’t be friends, but it was never a problem.

Now your wife has put the house up for sale. I guess the mortgage was too much to handle on her own. I scroll through the real estate listing like playing the world’s worst first-person shooter game. Click. There’s the accent wall I helped you paint, back before accent walls were passé, the rich maroon color reminds me of your mother’s homemade cranberry sauce on all those Thanksgivings, or Manischewitz at the seders I spent with your family after mine moved away. Click. The nursery I helped fill with absurd baby gifts, retro toys that you already had tattoos of. Click. The rose trellis in the backyard where we snuck out to smoke weed and your wife pretended not to notice, because she didn’t allow smoking in the house, but when we came back in, she had put out a cheese tray or just-microwaved popcorn.

We’d been a pair since you moved down the street from me in the summer of our twelfth year. Our hijinks progressed from slipping salami through the locker slats of our enemies in middle school to the fall break when we were both home from college and took your grandma’s mobility scooter “mountain biking” up on the trails up behind your house. We took nips from a ­­­­­­­­­­pint of Wild Turkey you’d stolen because we weren’t old enough to buy one. We had to push the scooter home after the battery died, laughing so hard we almost pissed our pants. Your grown-up house is all the way on the other side of town. Someday, whoever buys it might discover the Halloween plastic severed foot we hid between studs when we replaced the drywall after a leak in the upstairs bathroom.

The house pictures don’t capture the sound of your laughter, bouncing off the walls. The living room looks staged, not like the place where I spent the night on the sofa whenever I got too drunk or it snowed too much to go home. The guest room doesn’t mention that it’s the room you died in, downstairs because you got too weak to make it up to your own room, the hospice nurses discussing your care in hushed voices in the hallway while we sat around the kitchen table poking at sandwich trays we were too disheartened to eat. I see you everywhere in the house, looking for your shadow lurking behind the ornate standing lamp in the living room or in ceiling corners like a spirit in a horror movie. Now I am your haunted house, everywhere I go.


Stephanie King is a past winner of the Quarterly West Novella Prize and the Lilith Short Fiction Prize, with stories also appearing in CutBank, Entropy, and Hobart. She received her MFA from Bennington and serves on the board of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. You can find her online at stephanieking.net or Twitter @stephstephking.

Art by Eli Sahm.

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