North Carolina Gothic
- The statues at the Capitol are in slightly different positions every time you see them, but no one else seems to notice. You must be imagining things, they say. You don’t imagine the statue with bared teeth, staring straight at you.
- People joke about the football team rivalries, pretend it’s all friendly camaraderie. It wasn’t very friendly when two boys died while walking home from the big game last week. Make sure your children stick close.
- Construction has been going on on the road by your house for years. Sometimes in the middle of the night you hear jackhammers. The road will never be completed.
- Every soda comes out tasting like Cheerwine. You don’t like Cheerwine. You drink it anyway.
- Rich kids come every year from the north to go to school. It’s a test, to see if they can make it through the summer heat. None of them last. No one misses them.
- The wind whistles through your hair at the Outer Banks and you shiver, looking down at the footprints in the sand. Nothing human is big enough to make those footprints. You hear a faint cry in the distance, but it is muffled by the waves crashing onto the shore. When you look down again, the footprints are gone.
- Yellow fever, they call it, the pollen that invades every year, coating houses and cars and the inside of your lungs. You don’t remember what it’s like to be clean. You cover your mouth with a damp rag and stuff cloths under doorframes, but it’s never enough. You can taste it in your esophagus.
- The fields howl at night, when you were little your mama told you it was just the wind. You would sleep with your fingers pressed into your ears, telling yourself it was just the wind, and trying not to think about the bobcats surrounding your house.