Hinterland Is Real
They say seeing is believing. I didn’t know what that meant until that night. I was coming home late, later than I should, and I knew I was going to catch heck. Momma didn’t even pretend to be patient when me or my sister wasn’t home in time for dinner. I’d made it to the end of our lane, a pot-holed dirt drive that had seen two floods already this spring. I jumped in the closest puddle, splashing mud up my legs. If I was getting a whoopin’, I’d make it worthwhile.
That’s when I saw it. A ghostly white barn that had no business being on our land. I’d never seen it before. Not ever. I crossed the drive, pulled closer by its heavy-lidded window eyes. A small sign sticking out of the grass said Hinterland, carved with a knife blade. Something in my gut told me to turn around. Turn around and I’d be safe. I wanted to, but my feet kept walking toward the open door. Slipping through the opening, my feet finally came to a stop. An old woman sat beside a roaring fire. She was close enough to burn, but she didn’t. “Come here, boy,” she said. I found myself next to her, drinking from a flask she offered. The drink was sweet but left me more thirsty than I’d ever been. “I’ve been waiting for you. You done took your time.” She swatted my ear, tsked, and then said, “Out yonder is a boat. Get to it. Be polite to the Ferryman and you just might make it back. He’ll take you where you need to go.”
“But…but where am I going?” I asked the same way I’d ask anything in my dreams. The old woman swatted me again. “Just git.” So I did, my feet sloshing in my wet shoes as I followed the narrow path to the water. “See you in a few months,” the old woman shouted after me.
I came back seven months to the day I went missing. That’s when I finally made it back home. And momma didn’t whoop me. She hugged me so tight I thought I might die. But I didn’t. And I never saw that barn again, except in my dreams. And when anyone said I must have imagined the whole thing, I smile. Hinterland is real, I tell them. I’ve seen it.
This image and more of Carmen’s photographic prints and merch are available for purchase at Fine Art America.