I never get any mail. When I go out in the afternoon to check the box it is always empty, cavernous, whistling like the cave we found out by the creek, when my father, to steady himself, thrust his walking stick into the ground and the entrance collapsed and revealed itself. Day after day I am greeted by a single insolent leaf (I refuse to remove it) printed for a local exterminator (“groundhogs, midges, nut-hatches, robins, termites, deer, ants, moles, voles, hawks, owls, swifts, caterpillars, mice, crows, baby rats, intrusive spiders, and skunks / ALL DESTROYED HUMANELY”). The field is barren and I don’t need his services. Concrete and shards of plaster dot the enclosure. A raccoon was found dead underneath an old tire, its body flattened to the depth of an old washrag, a few indifferent crickets hopping round its corpse. The locals used to throw their garbage here, before I put a stop to that, and there’s nothing now but sand and a few thistly weeds. I get all my electricity from electro-magnet (needing just a small boost from a car battery to get the whole operation started). In the morning I turn the contraption off and wipe down the coils with a damp cloth. A concerned letter, sent in the days before I moved here and mail service gradually ceased (to all appearances) once explained this complicated process, complete with simple illustrations, as well as a small check (the last, or next-to-last, of a series) from my father. His body, when I went to see it, was white and homely, his suit arranged so nattily that one understood immediately (before even glancing at his face) that he was dead. In the morning, as I go to check the box, a waft of the neighbour’s lilies assaults my nostrils and I’m reminded of the funeral parlour and of that time, which I would rather forget. Which is why, you understand, it’s so vexing when I open the cover and find nothing waiting for me there.

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