Estate Sale, Mize, Mississippi

A house up the road from the center of town, just south of the tracks. In the driveway a group of men stand around a fire. In the yard, a couple of tables, various single items displayed. An egg beater, a coffee mug (Lamar Insurance), a new-looking bowl. A woman sits on the steps. “Inside, there’s a desk and a bureau. Nothing else for sale.” She waves smoke out of her face. “Go on in. I wish they wouldn’t keep burning – the smell. Prices are marked. Don’t go in the kitchen.” Inside, the walls and the carpet are the same color, a dusty caramel; the light too. Someone lived here alone. There’s a muffled thickness. The windows unopened, how many years? The desk is $75, the mahogany bureau is $150. An estate sale a practical way of mourning, death being what else but weight. What we leave behind, what other people have to get rid of, stick a price on with masking tape. And more people, different people, new people come and look, maybe they buy, maybe they don’t, what will have to be hauled away – or burned. On the porch, more furniture. A kitchen table, one chair. Also, a coatrack. “Thank you both for stopping,” the woman says. The men in the driveway stand by the fire, under the tall trees. They don’t look up.

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