Three Stories by Ashley Farmer

Behind the Barn, Overlooking

I hear the black clock hiss: it’s nine again. Outside the house, it could be anybody’s guess. It is too dark to hear time out there, and there are too many tress capped with snow to know the difference. The moon is anybody’s guess and anybody could be waiting for me. A conversation, at best. A walk under anybody’s guess.

Behind the barn, overlooking the dark pond, the idea of a neighbor rocks in a chair. He is waiting for me. In his lap: a left-handed deck of dark cards. In his pocket, an envelope filled with bills. There is always so much surprise along the path to the barn. My idea of a neighbor is patient, rocking. His best guess is that I will press tonight toward the edge of dark water.

Happy Hour

In the city I find more city. Deer vault from parking structure to parking structure. When I jangle my keys they tremble near concrete beams. It is so wild when the building shakes. I use my arms to protect myself. I avoid mirrors, filing cabinets, windows. In an emergency, the carpet beneath my desk becomes desert. I sift it for miles and I sweat through my jacket like an animal. My shoes are crammed with sand.

One day a train parked in the lobby, an accidental renovation of smoke and glass and crushed black granite. My neighbor stepped from the train. He stepped through shards of his reflection then through mine, his face alive and tan. Happy hour began happening at the nearest outdoor assembly points, but who was smiling? Then the girders and skylights assembled again. They began their slow repair, just like us. Then neared repair. Nearer and nearer. Repairing.


Everything that happens out-of-doors needs an explanation: on the other end of the field I can already hear us ending happily. Let’s say the field is a surface of water complicated by moonlight. The neighbors’ dog dragged a long bone around the floor as you changed the station from static to static and back.

From the sky, the cornfield is an advertisement for emptiness or the even coat of a yellow dog. From the front yard: a puzzle solved by stillness. The rows become tunnels and blonde women with wet fingers. When children go missing, it is through these dark mouths. This is what adults whisper when you’re not in the room.

Ashley Farmer is the author of the chapbook Farm Town (Rust Belt Bindery, 2012) and a collection forthcoming from Tiny Hardcore Press. Please say hello at