Barn Phantoms

You can walk into the barn through the spaces between the weathered grey boards or you can walk in through the doorway. Either way, stepping onto the cool concrete floor you will be faced with stacks of hay bales in the room ahead and perhaps see a cow on the outside, gazing  complacently through the wide open barn window. There is just enough light coming in that shadow does not own the place, only a misty greyness, a sense of subtle expectancy. On the far wall, opposite the hay bales, dangles a row of solid iron hooks.

Once, not too long ago, a young, freshly killed deer, roped at the hind feet, hung from one of them. The owner took great pride in his first kill. He was not aware of the youth of the deer when he shot it, nor that he had broken taboo in taking it. For months, long after his departure, the deer hung there, a bloodless, gutted carcass. The coolness and solitude of the barn held the deer in quiet suspension.

Daily, the cows munched their way through the pasture, content in their meanderings. Just downhill from the barn, out in the fields, planting activities continued as usual. The market garden sprouted generously in spring rains and quickly filled the space between the rows then began to reach upward until the farmer could disappear into the vibrant lushness. Occasionally he would stop, suddenly feeling called by the whispers of spirits in the old barn looming up the hill. As time revolved through the days, the boy and the deer began to weigh heavily on his mind. The boy did not come back to clean and skin the deer. It was way past time.

There is a pile behind the barn in the shadows of the orchard. If you were to dig through that mass, not too far down you would find the bleached skull of a young deer. As a matter of fact, you would find an intact skeleton, the phantom of a young boys journey into a future he did not intend.