Brittany Hailer

This house had little scrolls of paper in plastic casings trimmed in gold at every threshold.
Mezuzahs, the Whistling Landlord told us, write the words of God on the gates and doorposts of your house. We entered the rooms like pallbearers. The Whistling Landlord opened the dark purple curtains and dust sparkled, disappearing into shadow.

I was too afraid to go up the attic, so instead, stood in the cobwebbed doorway while the landlord
whistled and paced, and couldn't stand still. Couldn't look up.
I knew we'd never live in a place so ripe with mourning.

The love of my life came back down from the attic and said, Thank you.
And as we drove away I said, Someone died in that house.

The Whistling Landlord shifting his shoulders, pulling in his pockets, making noise, filling
the room with air sucked through teeth—he moved like a man who wanted to conjure. He danced the way I do when I know someone is about to whisper, I'm sorry for your loss. He danced the way I do when I wish someone would tell me I am motherless.

The Whistling Landlord called later, We'll patch the fence. We'll paint. Dogs are great.
It was my mother's house. Come back.
Come see.

Brittany Hailer is an award-winning journalist based in Pittsburgh. Her memoir and poetry collection Animal You'll Surely Become was published by Tolsun Books in 2018. Brittany has taught creative writing classes at the Allegheny County Jail and Sojourner House as part of Chatham's Words Without Walls program and now teaches creative writing and journalism at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the managing editor at Pittsburgh Current. Her work has appeared in NPR, Fairy Tale Review, Hobart, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.

Follow @BrittanyHailer on Twitter and Facebook.

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