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Work In Progress

July 6, 2013

Every morning at 7am he was outside, sawing planks, hammering joints, and drilling holes in the vacant lot. It went on for months, and into years. When initially well-meaning (but eventually annoyed) neighbors asked how it was coming, he would answer, in a voice unaccustomed to use, “It’s a work in progress.” Through the rain and the snow he hammered and sawed, drilled and painted, until eventually nobody spoke with or even acknowledged him. He became a fixture in people’s minds, like an automaton or strange natural phenomenon. Not a person at all. The walls and roof went up with a progress perceivable only in the fullness of weeks or months, and as they began to take on the appearance of an actual house, he began looking thinner and more gnarled, as though he was feeding his humanity into the thing he built.

One day, the racket of his construction fell silent, and the neighbors came to investigate, jarred by the sudden silence. The house was complete, pristine and empty. But the man was never seen again. In time, the neighborhood grew used to the quiet once more, with only the sound of the birds, the wind in the branches, and the laughter of children, as it had been when the lot was vacant.

From → Microfiction

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