Stamps: Cari Luna



from Adverse Possession

By Cari Luna

Crossing Avenue A and halfway down the block toward B. The bike shop security gate is down, the lights out, the compressor in the basement quiet. Gerrit must be upstairs already. She’ll have to gauge his mood before she tells him. Read the room for signs. Gerrit speaks a subtle language of doors and windows and furniture, and she’s become fluent in it over these past seven years. A slammed door means come pay attention to me—come win me over so I won’t have to be mad anymore. A quietly closed door means it’s better to steer clear until he cools off. A wide-open window in winter means he’s confused or stressed and needs the cold air to help him think. A window shut tight in full summer means trouble brewing. Combine that closed window with an overturned table or the couch shoved to an angry angle and it’s best to take a very long walk, maybe find someplace else to crash for the night.

When it’s really bad, he’ll pace, his heavy black boots scuffing along the floor. “Shhh,” she’ll say. She’ll wrap her arms around him and breathe into the nape of his neck. He’s only an inch or so shorter than her, but he always seems so small when she holds him like that, his body a temporary thing, ready to slip away. She pulls him tight to her and his heart flutters against her forearm where it crosses his chest, a frightened wild thing, like the field mice she’d catch as a kid and hold in her cupped hands, unaware of the terror of her enormous human face.

No matter what his reaction is, he’ll mean well. They’ll work through it. He’ll help her figure out what to do.

And now the gray metal door of Thirteen House and she fits her key into the lock. Inside the air is warm. She smells coffee, hears the voices of friends downstairs in the basement community room laughing, and someone singing along with the rumbling old stereo down there. The Pogues. Sounds like Ben and Suzie taking the parts on “Fairytale of New York.”

Home. She feels it settle down around her, the warmth, the safety. Her palm finds the banister, the good solid oak worn smooth from a century of hands. Her feet find the stairs and she climbs to the third floor.


Cari Luna is an ex-pat New Yorker in Portland, Oregon.



“Adverse Possession” is an excerpt from a novel-in-progress. The excerpt is part of the Stamps project. Click here to learn more >>


One comment

  1. […] small (quite small) excerpt is now posted on The Owls, as part of their Stamps […]

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