Four Way Books
Lessons in Another Language:
A Novella and Stories

by Megan Staffel

ISBN: 978-1-935536-00-0
paper, 212 pages, $18.95

School had ended. Now Sam would have only himself to depend on. For two months, there would be no regular meals and nothing to take him away from the pile of buildings after the bend on Quigg Hollow Road where the Deer Cutter sign stood at the silver mailbox.

The way he saw it, reading and math were useless. Science wasn’t any help either. History maybe. His father was a Vietnam vet and history might help explain some things. But with summer vacation, the days stretched forward in endless repetition, his mother napping through the warm afternoons, which meant she was as good as gone when his father was raging in the kitchen, and explanations didn’t matter. He had to get low, stay quiet, very, very quiet, quiet as the dog Sunshine when he was watching a bug, and keep to himself. Not talking, not saying anything except those times when he was asked something directly. Sometimes he felt he was no different from the animals, including the insects, the birds, but mostly the insects. He was no different, certainly no better, and that wasn’t a bad thing. It got him through the summer and up to the day school began again when he could rise from insect to human and think his way into all of those problems they tossed out. Like, what is the square root of 77? In summer it didn’t make any difference if it was 8.7 or minus 3. It made no difference at all.

Those were the things he might blame for the emptiness of the days. Or maybe he just wasn’t the type to have friends. That summer, besides being a bug and staying low and quiet, he did a lot of riding on his bike, miles and miles, and everyday he stopped in the marsh across from the house at the end of Quigg Hollow Road to watch. First the For Sale sign had appeared. That’s what caught his interest in the first place. Who would want to live on Quigg Hollow where it was only Sperry, the deer cutter, and farther down, a bunch of hardly used hunting camps? But the previous fall somebody had built the house on the stretch of brushy land just off of 417, and then on June first, the For Sale sign appeared.