the phantom of the boardwalk

Texas Gothic
  • it’s april, the flowers are blooming. the bluebonnets are everywhere. your sister sighs over the blue hoods, sighs over the indian paintbrushes. you don’t make direct eye contact with the new blooms. for the next few months, you have to dodge flower watchers. they don’t move, they don’t blink. they only talk about the flowers. you don’t make direct eye contact with the flowers
  • the hill country is dry. it hasn’t rained in months. your neighbor looks up at the cloudless sky and whistles. it is a forlorn sound, of dust and cacti and limestone peeking through cracked dirt. “i think it’ll rain tomorrow.” your neighbor locks eyes with you, and you are struck by how shadowed their eye sockets are today. “i feel it in my bones.” 

  • your family goes camping in the woods. the pine trees are tall, the air is fresh. the sun is setting. the forest floor looks like old blood in the lighting. you make friends with the family camping several sites down. in the light of the campfire, they look…charred. the shadows of the trees are brittle and broken. it reminds you of the fire ten years ago

  • on the night of a full moon, the waves in galveston bay look a little rough. a city in its prime rises above a modern skyscape. a cloudless, starry sky, a windless night. a ghost wind whipping an illusion of waves into a frenzy. a woman in period dress, buffeted by the phantom gale, runs down the boardwalk. she’s screaming, voice lost to the ages. her fingers and lips are blue-tinged, her eyes buggy. she turns to the ocean, and soundlessly screams as a hurricane-fueled wave sucks her out into a still sea.