There’s a formidable stone house that sits atop Fairmount Hill. It’s been for sale for as long as I can remember. The crooked post sinks deeper into the soil with each passing year. It isn’t a place to live in. It’s a place to dwell in. There’s a dusty rocking chair on the front porch. It’s always rocking. Always rocking. I’m not sure if the chair is occupied by an old soul or if it’s just the wind. Maybe it’s both. I guess the wind is an old soul.


This town is full of posters for Missing Cats. There’s one for a sweet, fluffy Maine Coon named “Bear.” He’s been gone for a while now. I’ve searched through every alleyway, under every porch, and inside of every bush for him. Sometimes I think I see him out of the corner of my eye. But then he’s not there. The rain has pretty much washed away the tattered posters. If he ever turns up, I worry the posters will be missing. 


He plays the trumpet brilliantly on the corner of Grand and Victoria. He’s impeccably dressed, from his crisply fitting suit to his smooth fedora hat. There aren’t many folks that can pull that off. He’s cooler than the freezer aisle on a sweltering summer day. He performs the type of yearning melodies that give you the goosebumps. I’ve never seen anyone put money into his basket.


I met the love of my life in Irvine Park, near the gloriously spouting water fountain, beneath the serene umbrella of oak trees. We spent a small piece of eternity there together. We talked about whether or not the world was coming to an end soon, and if all of our memories will be diminished along with it. After we said our goodbyes and she walked off into the distance, I never saw her again. 

Zach Murphy

What is the significance of this work to you?

This piece is inspired by the quirky, charming, and poignant mysteries of my home city of St. Paul. Many of the ideas for it came to me during me and my wife's daily walks together around old-fashioned neighborhoods like Grand Avenue and Summit Hill.

What is the significance of the form you chose for this work?

I've always believed that very short prose is such an engrossing medium because what isn't explicitly conveyed can be just as powerful as what actually is on the page. Sometimes there are more questions than answers. This is also the first work of prose I've ever written that has been presented in small vignettes. I think it's cool to be able to tell multiple stories in one piece.

What was your process for creating this work?

I wanted to tell a ghost story that isn't necessarily about ghosts in the supernatural or paranormal sense. Each vignette is about longing, missing something, or having a striking connection to a place and its history. With that said, if anyone saw this as a traditional ghost story, that would be cool too. It is spooky season, after all.

Zach Murphy is a Hawaii-born writer with a background in cinema. His stories have appeared in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Mystery Tribune, Ghost City Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Ellipsis Zine, Spelk Fiction, Flora Fiction, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Lotus-eater, Crêpe & Penn, WINK, Levitate, Drunk Monkeys, Door Is A Jar, and Yellow Medicine Review. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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