Silver Thread Snapshots

TW: Implications of abusive upbringing, no outright descriptions

Cracks along the walls suggested centuries, but only witless eyes believed. The gullible  desperately sticking the blame for decay on decades rather than three years neglect. Granted,  paint chips and plaster exaggerated the ruin. Solid wood still stood, though a sense of the place  being shattered permeated any passing impression. 

A shockwave must have ripped through the rooms. This couldn’t be the natural wreckage  passing through time. Otherwise, the question of how flesh endures possesses a terrible answer. Better to suppose psychic torment burst from a mind on the brink of nuclear explosion; or  consider the concussive force of a military device unleashed on the small house; anything except  evidence of neglect.  

But truth stood evident in the obvious state of the place: no one lived here anymore. The  little house abandoned to the erosion existence inflicts. Zero occupants to repair simple faults  which blossomed into necrosis. One room’s rot spreading to another; decay eating the past in the  process. 

Pencil marks on the wall noting the growth of children lost to water stains from a  weeping roof. Cracks in the drywall hiding where angry fists proved a cycle had reached  repetition. Ceiling plaster shed onto the floor, covering scuffs where a fire poker struck  hardwood instead of a skull. Buried under fallen drywall, the dark stain showing a second swing  didn’t miss. Burn marks in the basement blending with mold into shapes reminiscent of ghost  stories. Dust everywhere hiding the presence of ashes. 

Whatever restorative medicine handywork could apply sternly refused. Already inclined  to hospice, never mind medical procedures involving hammer, paint, and nails—the hospital work of handy-people meant nothing now. Doomed, not by destiny but by desertion, the house  was left to die. 

Yet, even as the place trudged towards collapse a presence lingered. A specter who never  really left sometimes manifested on the property. Anchored here by the past, it circled back now  and again. Riding rocket skates through empty halls, starry eyes explored recollections. Shit  memories growing mushrooms, not all edible but delicious enough to always risk consumption. 

The second inside gooseflesh pimpled skin with Braille saying, “Stay away.” Ignoring the  warning—through the maw of a broken door. Clad in black as if the shadows won’t know the  alien in their midst. Wicked tattoos helped hide the shuddering child within inked skin. Though  not in the dark where all cats are grey. 

Skeletons in the closets sing of falling sconces. Creaking floorboards whisper of  descending hammers. The remains of broken lamps tell of ragdolls thrown across rooms. Meanwhile, the shuddering child whimpers at every implication until finding glittering gems. 

Little better than stick figures, crayon cave paintings on a bedroom wall. Though a bit  worse for wear, they’ve never stopped dancing. Take a picture—flash of light harvesting  decayed beauty. In the remains of the kitchen, see signs of mother in yellow wallpaper. Snapshots catch another pretty piece of the past. Something to callback baking cookies, and a  velveteen voice reading soothing stories. 

Here a thousand times before but the joy only seen in a certain second. It’s all a matter of  the light really. Today, sunset shades warm an otherwise clichéd horror show. Instead of the ugly  around the fur, where the soft stops and turns to dead skin, the beauty shines through. 

However, despite the glittering gems gathered, there’s only so long a body can linger in  the depths of such a mine. So, quick return to the car with a treasure chest full of images. Poured into a transparent tower as ones and zeros, digital photos soon find themselves reborn as tangible  prints. 

Considering each, the photographer regards filler for a square mold. First the resin, but  into it then an assortment of trinkets to highlight the picture. Tiny plastic notes from Chinatown  giving the crayon dancers some semblance of music. Charm bracelet pieces reminiscent of  pastries help the yellow wallpaper imply baking with mother. Into both frames, shreds of crinkly  plastic which any touch of light turns to shimmering rainbow shards. For a touch of solidity, bits  of wood from the decaying house. Tools retouch those bones into solid framework, and when the  resin is hard enough, it all holds the images. 

Then onto the wall. Eventually the photos’ clones would go to the art gallery. Bought to  add interest to otherwise empty walls, they’d become whatever their buyers believed. Images  offering details beyond words. After all, there’s more to the world than vocabulary can  illuminate. Only the first two, always on the photographer’s wall, would remain one thing: proof  positive—silver threads can strangle nightmares.

About The Author

J. Rohr is a Chicago native with a taste for history and wandering the city at odd hours. In order to deal with life’s more corrosive aspects he makes music in the band Beerfinger and writes articles for Horror Obsessive and 25YL Media. His Twitter babble can be found @JackBlankHSH.