The boards in the attic are wide. I slept up here in the summers as a kid. Cobwebs droop with dust from the beams, and the creaks in the night, the sighing and squeaking of wood under weight, are ghosts. Benevolent ones, but ghosts. The stairway up leads to a hatch in the roof, a heavy trap door out into the sky. I spent hours in evenings as a teenager up there. The attic smells like wood and dust, something dry and old and pressing in with its aliveness.
The phrase they don’t make them like this anymore applies, because they cannot make them like this anymore. For boards this wide — nineteen inches, twenty-three inches — you need trees this wide, and we’ve mostly cut down those trees, and the new ones haven’t had time to thicken, a ring added with every year. (Imagine if each birthday we were marked in some way, physically scarred, not by lines by the eyes, or softening flesh, but by something you could count and tally. Or if we thickened over time, grew taller, so the oldest would tower, high and wide. I would like to age like a tree!)
Old photographs of people I never knew the names of, long dead, fill frames. There’s an attic accumulation in the old quilts, suitcases with rusting latches, a trundle bed, busted chairs moved up here from the lower parts of the house. It is maybe best in rainstorms. It’s been home to mice and spiders. One mouse had the misfortune of falling into a narrow-necked glass jar. It died in there who knows when, twenty years ago at least. It’s still in the jar, furred, preserved, and it’s a strange joke in my family that when the house goes, which will be soon, and its items are divided up, number one on people’s lists of things they want is that glass jar with the dead mouse.