The Four Ways Home

Andrew Hoffman

When I count to three, you will wake up on the side of a green hill. You will vaguely remember going there but will not be able to recall why. Sit up. Let the wind dry the back of your shirt. Inhale. Let the hillside air journey through you before you force it out. Thumb through the files in your mind for a reason why. Comb your hair with your fingers. You’ve been below, and it will be in a tangle. Wait for midnight. Even though it will be the Witching Hour, do not let fear tickle the back of your neck. Four men on white horses will cross the midnight sky and lead you on a safe path home. Follow their direction of travel. It will be a familiar one. You will be led to a drugstore. Look in the windows. The lights will be off. Make a list of all the things you can see and do not need. The list will be long. Do not take too much time. The four horsemen will not wait. If you have not finished your list when it is time to leave, just end it by writing the word EVERYTHING. Your list will be complete. You may need to run to catch up with the horsemen. You will come upon shattered glass directly below a busted street lamp. Pick up the pieces from the pavement. Look up and see what it means to have no light shining on you. If your mind is empty, fill it with this thought. Let it swirl around and cause a storm. Become a dark rain. Find the four horsemen in the distance and run to gain back the ground. You will realize that you might never have time to pick up all of the messes you have made. This will disturb and sadden you, but you will not have time to dwell on it. As you reach the crest of a familiar street, one in which you have spent many days, and months, and years in ways that you mostly do not remember, the four horsemen will be waiting in front of a door to a house. You will need to get in the house, but the men on horses will be in the way. You should walk up to the four beasts atop the four beasts and study them. When they acknowledge you, all you will be able to do is smile. So smile.