A Cardboard Fortress in the Attic, Chapter 1
“I don’t know what’s happened to him. I don’t know what he’s doing up in the attic.”
As Harris entered his mid-thirties he felt buried under the repetition of making it through work weeks, weekends lost in catching up with responsibilities, missing out on seasons of the year, and years of his life that have been forgotten through the drudgery. In his younger days he imagined he would grow up into the adult situations of heavy drama, flying cusses with no regard, gratuitous violence, and constant glamorous nudity. His reality of adult situations were more of struggling through doing taxes, realizing he’d made a mistake on his taxes, frantically changing his taxes before submitting, trying to remember passwords and PIN codes to apply his taxes loan applications and insurance forms, and going to bed early exhausted from taxes, passwords, and insurance. His thoughts of childhood adult situations would seep into his anxiety dreams that would involve him not having enough insurance because his tax information was not complete enough to cover the results of the glamorous violence he would be subject to while he was gratuitously nude.
It was as an adult that Harris grew to appreciate the imagination of his childhood over the reality he thought he would gain with the independence of an adult. Oddly, it was a broken appliance in the kitchen of his house that reminded Harris of something long forgotten. Cynthia didn’t pay much attention to the way Harris eyed the refrigerator box and it took her just over a week before realizing the only signs of Harris were thumps heard from the attic.
Harris had been distant before but never quite this invisible. There was little sign from his friends that anything was amiss and responses when she would call up to him or text were more and more sparse and cryptic. She was getting worried, and she wasn’t going to just let him slip away into whatever it was he was slipping into in the attic. She found the stepstool in the pantry and brought it to the second floor to pull down the hatch to the attic. She pulled down the cord and climbed the latter. When she came to the top of the latter she found herself inside the refrigerator box that was then covering the opening to the attic. Inside had marker drawings like cave paintings of monsters, mazes, knights, and the words ‘Welcome to Fort Harris’ written on the cut out folded door in cardboard. She ducked as she pushed through the door.