Inks, Jinks

By Chloie Piveral

Abandoned, the House reached toward the horizon. On sunny days it looked decrepit. On rainy days it looked miserable. On hot days it looked inviting. On cold days it looked like a ghost of its former self, forlorn, like the woman in the ghost stories about the house who sought her lost love. His spectre hung amongst the apple blossoms of spring.


The decaying gray wood sagged from years of neglect. Its shadow stretched longingly toward the west. An old leather suitcase, the kind with locks that made a sproinging sound when released, waited on the top step of the porch. One tattered corner leaked stuffing like an old couch, and the handle hung loosely at one end.
The House had stood there just like this for as long as anyone could remember, one door open, one door closed, suitcase on the top step.


It was famous, or infamous depending on your point of view. Every family in Fillmore had a story about The Suitcase House. Everyone knew someone who had heard about someone who felt cursed after touching that suitcase. Stories were told of ghostly figures appearing in the windows—old man Ray with a grimacing face, or his daughter a young, forlorn-looking woman. Sometimes the spectre of a child skipped through the graveyard calling for her father.


The House frame twisted and turned a little more each year toward the river valley. The empty air inside captured the sounds from the surrounding valley. The walls echoed with the whoosh of jet engines overhead, distant train whistles, car horns, neighbouring dogs barking, and sometimes the echoes of kids shuffling down the gravel road.
“I can’t be gone long,” Calvin said. His shoes were spotless, his clothes pressed, but his hair shot straw-like out from his head in thick, jagged tufts. He trudged a good ten feet behind Brody and Kate. His pace slowed the closer they got. Calvin was an only child. When he was two, he had survived the car crash that had killed his mother without a scratch on him. His father had barely let him live a moment since then.


Kate glared over her shoulder. “Catch up,” she said.

 

“But I’ve got to be home before sunset,” Calvin said.

 

“Listen, I’m going to put my name on that wall before anyone else in our grade. And when Chad Lambert gets there it’ll be too late. My name is going to be waiting for him.” She turned to Brody and punched him in the shoulder. “I can’t wait to see everyone’s faces.”

 

The youngest of four girls, Kate did her best to be the boy her father was hoping for—otherwise, no one paid her any attention.
     

“Yeah but we’ve got all summer,” Calvin said.

 

Brody circled back and pushed Calvin until he caught up to Kate. Brody’s chronically untied white tennis shoes were caked with mud. His torn jeans had swipes of jelly near the pocket. No matter the occasion, he looked as though he’d just rolled out of bed and managed to escape a fire.


In unison, the three of them took deep breaths and held it. The Ray family graveyard lay just behind the house. Chains rattled in the wind. These were the gravestones of the supposed grumpy old man, the lonely child, the lover, and the forlorn woman. Long ago, before Kate or Calvin or Brody existed, the Rays' grandchildren placed a wrought iron fence around the perimeter of the little graveyard. A long black chain anchored one corner to the pierced foundation of The House. It had been an attempt to keep the local teens from late night mischief and shenanigans.


Exhaling and pointing Brody asked, “What’s that?”


A red and white sign was nailed to the tallest post of the crumbling fence in the front yard.


“Sold sign,” Calvin said.


Brody ran ahead scooping up a stick. He whacked it against the post separating the road from the overgrown field of weeds that The House called a yard.


Kate stopped safely out of Brody's swing and studied The House. Above the rusted porch roof were dark windows with shredded curtains like pale, heavy eyelids. Cracked panes of glass, covered in a thick layer of pollen, reflected the green field across the gravel road.


On the porch itself, two doors stood side by side at the entrance. The left one, ajar about a foot, opened on the emptiness inside. Tacked on to the porch railing was another sign. This one was bright orange.
Calvin hurled a rock at the porch. It disappeared, about six feet shy of the first step, just beyond the spotty gravel driveway. A cloud of gnats swirled in response.


"You throw like a boy," Kate said. She laughed and stopped considering the sign long enough to dig a rock out of the dirt. She threw it in a graceful arc into the open doorway. It bounced off the door and further into the darkness. She bowed.


“Now,” she asked, “what do you think that other sign says?”


“All those who enter beware,” Calvin replied.


"I heard that once a year travellers come through and hide all their treasures in the walls," Brody said.
"Yeah, I heard that too," Calvin said.


"Is that what you believe?" Kate asked. She snorted at the boys.


"I didn't say that's what I believe. I said it's what I heard," Calvin said. He frowned at her.


"I believe it," Brody said. He crouched low and dug at the glimmer of something shiny caught in the dirt. "What now?"


Kate held her fist out toward the boys. Brody stood and stacked his on top. Reluctantly Calvin did the same.
“Now we go see what that sign says,” Kate said.


After climbing the fence, Kate watched a tiny black spider amble across the back of her hand. "What does one of these travellers look like, Brody?" Kate asked. She kicked her feet out in unison and jumped down from her perch into the yard.


In the distance, the faint backfire of a car punctuated the afternoon. Calvin ducked, thinking it might be a hunter.
"Craig said that Samantha King lost her virginity in there,” Brody said. He looked hesitantly at the doorway, reluctantly at the suitcase, and then at Calvin.


"Maybe she didn't so much lose it as bury it in the walls," Calvin replied. He rolled his eyes so Kate could see.
Brody was absent the day they shuffled the fifth graders off to separate rooms for “the talk.”  What he didn’t get at school he wasn’t going to get at home.


"Is there a reward for it?" Brody asked. "You think maybe if we found it and returned it there would be a reward?"
Brody's family was always one step away from losing something—the truck, the house, the kids. Kate and Calvin were aware of the whispers. Brody's family weren't bad people, just ill-equipped to deal with the day to day requirements of life. It left Brody obsessed with rewards and quick money schemes. 


"I've heard a lot of rumours about her losing it, but I've never heard one story of a reward for its return," Calvin said.  He stifled a giggle.


“Notice of Demolition,” Kate declared. There was a line down the sign where the old wood wept at the piercing of the nail.


“They can’t do that. It’s tradition. The Suitcase House has been here since before my Grandpa Philip was knee-high to a grasshopper,” Brody said. He stepped closer to read it for himself.
“What does that mean?” Kate asked.


“I don’t know, just something he always says.”


A low rumble shook the ground. The House shivered.


“What was that?” Calvin backed away from the house.


“Probably blasting at the quarry," Brody said. With his shoulders tensed up around his neck, he looked around.


"Well, I think we should go in now," Kate said.


“No, we said before sixth grade, right?” Calvin asked. “That means we have the whole summer before the pact is up."


"Notice says they’re going to demolish the house on June third.” Kate pointed to the date on the sign. ”That's eight days from today."


Another rumble shook the ground. The graveyard fence chains rattled. Clouds of dust rose. The House turned a little more on its footing toward the horizon, toward freedom. Bits of glass shook free of the second story windows and rained down over the porch roof like tears.


The kids scattered and ran for the road. Kate and Brody were the first to scale the fence. When Calvin made it over, he just kept going. Brody followed.


When the rumbling ended, a train whistle called out. The curtains of the House reached toward the sound, fluttering on the breeze, bits of fabric drifting like fingers.


#


When they returned three days later, Kate led the charge with clenched fists and a set jaw. Her eyes were glassy and red around the rim. There was an extra tension in her face that Calvin couldn't quite figure out. He had shoulder checked her a couple of times, but it hadn't helped. She sped up, more unconcerned with his lagging pace than ever before.


Brody had seen Chad Lambert tackle her during recess. She was about ten feet from a touchdown, and he hit her with a vengeance. She sat up with a bloody nose and grinding her teeth from the pain. Chad Lambert and his friends had blocked her from playing and told her it was for her own good.


"Well, I found out what virginity is," Brody said, offering up what he could.


Kate and Calvin despite themselves gave Brody their undivided attention.


"As far as I can tell, it doesn't exist, and there's only a punishment if you lose it, but no reward for finding it again." Brody's cheeks puffed with disappointment. "It's basically like one of those riddles Mrs. Banner said the Sphinx uses to confuse a traveller."


"Huh," Calvin responded, "that sounds about right from what I know." As soon as Kate turned away, he attempted a few hand charades with Brody.


"What?" Brody squinted at Calvin's hands. "Oh, Kate's in a snit. Yeah, so?"


Kate glared over her shoulder at Calvin.


"Why are you giving me the stink eye? Brody’s the one who said it," Calvin shot back. Brody shoulder punched him and caught up to Kate. Calvin slowed.


Kate stopped. “Look,” she said, pointing at the graveyard. A horsefly buzzed angrily around her head.


“Are you talking to me now?” Calvin asked, still shuffling hesitantly up the road.


"Right, but I mean look!” She pointed at the porch, then the graveyard.


The kids’ voices drifted in through the windows with the smell of clover and the bees that followed. The vibrations woke the still air inside.


"Look over there," Kate said, pointing at headstones. She climbed the fencepost to get a better view. The boys leaned their bellies against a wood slat still guarding the yard.


Brody looked. "Yeah? So?"


A car zipped by and gave a honk. Calvin jumped.


"Calvin, look at the graves," Kate said, with an insistent point. "Do you see it?"


Calvin stared and tried to put it together in his head. "What?"


"Yeah, what?" Brody said, now also staring at the graveyard. Brody followed the taut fence chain. The House sat about a foot off of its foundation. "Oh," he said.


Calvin turned, and shoulder punched Brody. "What are you two getting at?"


"The fence is leaning heavy. Look the chain is pulled tight," Brody said. “The house has moved. You can see the whole graveyard now.”


 “The porch is turned more toward the west. It's pulling on the foundation,” Kate continued.


"What are you talking about?" Calvin suspected he was being punked by his friends. "That's ridiculous."


"Look again," Kate said. “The graves are all visible now. And the stairs are sitting on the driveway.”


Calvin stared at the headstones. "Are we remembering it wrong?" he asked.


"Not me," Brody replied. "I remember you couldn’t see a couple of them from where we’re standing. Because last time, when Kate threw the rock that hit the headstone of the kid that lost his parents to Tubor Locusts, she was standing on the other side of that post a bit."


"It's tuberculosis, not tuber locusts," Calvin corrected. "Maybe she wasn't, maybe that’s just how you remember it.”


"Nope, because you threw your rock, aiming for the headstone of the Lady that weeps for her dead man that hung himself in the apple tree out back, BUT you didn't even hit the headstone of the grumpy old man in front, who died of—"


"How does that prove we weren't on this side of the fence?" Calvin demanded.


"What did the grumpy old man die of again Kate?" Brody asked.


"An aneurysm.” Kate paced along the fence. “Story goes he stroked out chasing young men out of his orchard," she said. “It’s turned on its foundation, a bit more toward the horizon. It’s like that graveyard is the only thing anchoring it in place.” She chucked another rock at the porch. The glass in one of the windows shattered as the rock went sailing into the darkness.


"Damn, Kate," Calvin said.


"It's closer now. I can't judge my distance like I once did." She dug at another rock in the dirt with the toe of her boot.


"Ant-your-ism, that's right. He's the mean one. Anyway, you couldn't hit shit with your rock. And I know you were both near that end of the fence because I was over here taking a piss against the post on this side," Brody said.
"Why didn't you lead with the part about taking a piss?" Calvin said.


"Listen, I’m not as stupid as you think, even I know you don't start a story with, 'I was over here taking a piss,’" Brody said.


There was a deep thud, and both boys looked to see where Kate had landed the last rock. It jostled the suitcase and bounced down the stairs back into the driveway.


"I bet some teenagers just got a crazy idea about starting some new stories and moved the headstones to mess with people," Calvin said. “Do you think that counts as touching the suitcase?”


Brody shrugged.


"They moved the headstones?" Kate asked. She lobbed a rock. It hit a headstone.


"Yeah, that's the kind of thing they do," Calvin said. “Counts as Kate’s rock though right?”


"And the wrought iron fence, too?"


"Yep," Calvin said. "Brody, in the stories, do you remember, do rocks count?"


"And they borrowed someone's tractor, drove it out here, so they could move it a half a foot toward the west, and then they came over here and moved the old fence posts, and then they moved the sidewalk and the old driveway too?" Kate asked.


"You think The House is moving? I don't know what happened, but houses don't..." He looked at the fence, the sidewalk, the gravel driveway, and the headstones. "Except in the case of earthquakes," he said, finishing his statement a little quieter than he'd begun.


They all three squinted at The House. The roof stretched like a runner tipping its chin at the race. The House shivered and strained against the graveyard chain.


"I’ve got to go in now, or there won’t be another chance to put my name on that wall,” Kate said.


“Wall?! What wall, Kate?” Calvin threw his hands up in the air. “After the demolition, there won’t be a wall. And no one will care.”


“The treasure,” Brody said. He edged closer to the porch.


Kate looked at the demolition sign, then the suitcase. “You’re right.”


“What?” Calvin said. “When have you ever thought I was right?”


“You know, if I grab that suitcase, it'll be better than putting my name on the wall."
 “Cursed suitcase,” Calvin said.


"It'll only take a second to run up there and grab it." She eyed the distance. She took a few steps toward the porch.


 “Yeah,” Calvin said grabbing her arm and pulling her around to face him. “Dad’s right. You’re a bad influence. I’m going home.”


Kate turned him right back around by the arm. "I think that if there is a treasure, or truth, or even an explanation for anything, it’s inside that suitcase. Everything else is just a stupid superstition."


 Brody talked to himself as he edged even closer to the porch. “I’m going in. I’m going to find that treasure the travellers left. Someone buried something in those walls, I just know it,” Brody said. “I mean they left that suitcase on the front step, what else did they leave? I could save the farm.”


“Farm?” Calvin asked, “What is he talking about?”


“I’m a bad influence?” Kate leaned her angry face a little closer to Calvin’s. “You would have flunked fifth grade without me,” Kate said.


Brody ignored them both and edged his way closer to The House. The upstairs curtains puffed briefly in the late afternoon breeze. The House moaned as it leaned against the shackles left by the family.


Calvin leaned around Kate to yell at Brody. “Hey, you can’t go in there! It’s dangerous!” He looked back to Kate. “What’s happening to the farm!?”


"Brody's dad has to sell it. They're flat broke. They're moving over to Barnard before school starts," Kate said. She turned to Brody who was carefully measuring out his courage in steps. "Yeah, Brody wait. Genius-Better-Than-Me Calvin's probably right—that place is unstable."


“They are always losing the farm. What’s the difference this time?” Calvin asked.


"We could get the suitcase, though. There's probably something valuable in that," she said. Kate turned and whispered harsh to Calvin, “His mom got a pink slip yesterday, but nobody’s supposed to know.”
“Then how do you know?”


“Everybody knows, don’t they?” she said and pushed his shoulder. “Except you. If you weren’t such a chicken shit, under the thumb of your dad, maybe you would’ve been at the meet-up on time,” Kate said. She turned to look at Brody who had made it to the bottom step of The House. “Grab the suitcase, Brody.”


 “I ain’t touching the cursed suitcase!” he yelled back. Brody mounted the first step. “My family doesn’t need any more bad luck.”


 “And that suitcase is cursed, everybody who knows anything knows that,” Calvin said to Kate, then yelled, “Brody, you can’t go in there.”


Brody and Kate yelled in unison, “Calvin you are the king of chicken shits!”


“Inks, Jinks, you owe me a coke, Brody,” Kate yelled over her shoulder.


"Listen, the Harrisons lost both sons after they touched that suitcase," Calvin said.


Brody stepped.


"Yeah, I know the stories. They died in a car crash, probably from drinking and driving, not from touching an old suitcase," Kate said.


Brody stepped.


“After touching that suitcase,” Calvin said. “Old man Tiller’s son was in the Army, went missing and never came home. He touched that suitcase.”  


Brody eased past the suitcase giving it plenty of room.


“Lots of people never come home,” Kate said.


 “Yeah, I know.” Calvin leaned in and gritted his teeth about an inch from Kate’s face. “I know better than you.”
Kate’s shoulders dropped. “I’m sorry, Calvin.”


Brody stepped across the threshold. A floorboard gave a moan. The door tilted on its hinges and shut behind him.


The knock of the door against the frame jolted Calvin and Kate out of their argument.


“Shit,” they said in unison, “Brody.”


“Inks, Jinks, you owe me—”


“I know,” Calvin said.


#


Brody drifted through the weighty air with an eye out for the man with the grimacing face. He wandered from room to room, a spectre in dirty white tennis shoes, tapping on the walls. The sputter of a distant truck engine, followed by two faint honks sounded outside.


The House put him at ease. It didn’t feel haunted; it felt like an echo of something that just wasn’t there anymore. It felt like a used thing that was almost used up.


“Basements and attics, that’s where people keep their treasures,” he said. Finding the downstairs door, he groped his way down through the darkened and twisted stairwell.


It smelled earthy and musty, like The House had held its breath for a century or more. Chunks of foundation tumbled free from the walls where the floor joists met the rock foundation. Smatterings of light shone all around. Near one corner, deep in the wall, a flash of red caught Brody’s eye.


#


Kate headed toward The House. Calvin hadn’t moved. “We’ve got to go get him,” she said.


“Yeah, but maybe we should get an adult,” Calvin said, still not moving.


“You mean like your dad? So he can see that you've been sneaking out to meet Brody and me? Yeah, that's a good plan. It'll take us about thirty minutes to walk back into town. In the meantime, swift-foot Brody will have fallen through the floor or down some dark stairwell, and be bleeding out, while you find a responsible adult. And then you’ll never be allowed to leave the house again.” She advanced on him. “Grow a pair.”


“That might be what he means about influence.” 


“I’m going in after him.”


“It’s not a good idea.”


“Yeah, you’re right. But Brody’s in there.”


Calvin took a few steps toward The House and then stopped. He shook his head no.


 Kate took his hand and pulled him along. They both eased their way up the stairs testing the stability of the floorboards as they went.


On the top step, next to the suitcase, Kate paused. Calvin tugged her hand this time. A gentle touch and the door yawned open on the interior.


#


Inside the House, the afternoon light shafted through the rib-like lattice of the walls. Mote clouds drifted in and out of the patches of light. Lumps of crumbled plaster and debris marked the untouched terrain.


Kate called for Brody.


The emptiness of the rooms swallowed the sound.


“Upstairs or down?” Kate asked.


Calvin called, "Brody?" He shrugged.


Kate tugged Calvin up the stairs. The dusty scratch of their footsteps made The House creak and groan in breathy gasps.


They topped the stairs and eased their way around the corner both aware they were entering the forlorn woman’s bedroom. The windows grew dim under the passing clouds. Some animal wailed in the distance. The breeze died.


As they turned, taking in the room, two ghostly figures appeared in the corner.


Calvin screamed. Kate jumped. Then the clouds parted, and the sun illuminated their mirrored images.


“That’s us,” Kate said.


“That’s us,” Calvin repeated. They both fell to the floor laughing. The sound travelled in and out of surrounding rooms, bouncing off the bare walls and returning to them in echoes. No furniture, no footprints, no ghosts, nothing. It should have sounded foreboding or scary, but it didn’t, just sad and desolate, like an old person reminiscing about their friends who’ve all gone now.


Black horse flies buzzed in through the broken glass of the upstairs windows. One landed on Calvin’s neck, giving a stinging bite.


“Ow, damn fly.” Tears welled in his eyes.


The fly soon got caught in the worn tangle of loose threads, and The House exhaled it with a puff of curtained air back out into the world beyond. It no longer wanted to house the life.


“Still scared?” Kate asked.


Calvin watched the curtains shiver in the paltry late-afternoon breeze. “No, it’s empty, kind of…”
“Hollow.”


“Yeah, hollow. Like when everyone else has left for summer break, but you have to go back inside the school for something.”


Then she saw it, scratched into the crumbling plaster, Chad Lambert’s name.


Calvin could feel the sweat between their palms, a reminder that he hadn’t let go yet. He dropped Kate’s hand and felt the nervous sweat evaporate. Then he saw it too.


Kate let her hand hang for a moment, feeling the letting go. As they edged their way back down the sagging stairs, the walls of the house shivered. A low deep rumble shook the house like a dog shaking off a nap. Ages of grit dropped from the ceiling above them and filled their hair.


“Shit, shit, crap,” Brody’s voice returned from the back of the house.


“Brody?” Kate called. They followed the trail of curses.


“Downstairs. Damn,” Brody yelled. 


“Great,” Calvin said.


“I found something, get down here.”


At the top of the stairs, leading into the darkness below, Kate held out her hand to Calvin. He shook his head and pulled out his keychain light.


The House trembled and creaked.


They found Brody in the far corner digging at a dark hole in the wall.


“It’s the treasure,” he said.


“Sure it is,” they both replied.


Kate said, “Inks, Jinks—“


A creaking noise cried out from the boards overhead.


“Okay, grab it and let’s go,” Kate said.


“It’s stuck. I’ve been digging at it, but it’s stuck.”


The light from outside spattered across the red of an old Anchor coffee can. A quarter inch rod of metal ran through the foundation and pierced the can. Years of rust had melded the two together.


A slow dribble of dry dirt dropped from outside onto the floor, like the sand in an old hourglass. Stones fell beside them. Brody stopped digging and looked at his friends.


“Ah, it’s okay, we can leave it,” he said.


Calvin handed Kate his pocket light, picked up a heavy stone with both hands, and smashed the rock against the can. It bounced. He hit it again. This time the can cracked a bit around the bar. He dropped the rock and started pulling.


Kate and Brody grasp the top of the metal container. The three of them pulled.


With a clank, and the sound of metal jostling against metal, it came free. Kate shoved it into Brody’s chest, and they ran for the stairs.


The House shivered again, belching Brody, and then Calvin, out onto the tall dry summer grass.
 
Kate stopped on the porch and grabbed the suitcase.


“Put it back,” Calvin said.


“No.”


Clutching the suitcase, Kate marched toward the fencerow where Brody stood. With ragged breath, and white knuckles she held the case to her chest and grinned madly.


Brody stopped digging through the contents of the can. Eyeing Kate, and then the suitcase, he increased the distance between them.


 “I’m not losing you to the bad luck. Put it back,” Calvin yelled.


The House gave another deep shuddering shiver, and the boards cried out under pressure. The chain at the back corner rattled a bit and then grew slack.


Kate fumbled and prodded at the clasps of the suitcase. The gold tabs were sealed shut.


“Hey Kate,” Brody said, “I’ll share my treasure if you put it back.”


Kate ignored them both, continuing to pound and pry on the locks. She wanted to be the one who defied the curse. She wanted to be the one who knew what was inside. She wanted Chad Lambert to shrivel in her shadow.
Digging in the dirt, she found a sharp piece of metal and forced it under the tab of the lock.


 “Belongs to the house,” Brody said.


 Kate pounded on the metal with her fist.


“Put that suitcase back where it belongs!” Calvin yelled as he marched toward her. With a flushed face and gritted teeth, he stopped just short of knocking the case over.


Kate stopped her assault with a challenging glare in Calvin’s direction.


Brody froze.


Everything grew quiet. The House ceased shifting. White paper-like moths fluttered soundlessly through the settling dust.


Not breaking eye contact with Kate, Calvin bent down and jerked the suitcase up into a hug. Struggling with an awkward grasp and the weight of the thing he turned and in lurching steps ran back toward the house.


Brody dropped the can with a loud jangling clang to the ground. Kate stood dazed and watched Calvin shuffling toward the steps of the house.


“It’s given everything,” Calvin said. “This is all it has left and it belongs to The House.” Halfway up the broken path, his toe caught on a stone that had lifted free of the dirt, and he fell.


His chest thudded against the case as his hands struggled to break his fall. He shuffled back to his knees and then to his feet. As he worked to lift it again, the metal lodged in the lock cut his palm. He recoiled from the pain. The blood spilled across his white shoes, now scuffed and grass stained from the fall.


Calvin tucked his bleeding hand into his opposite armpit and dragged the suitcase toward the stairs with his good hand.


"No!" Kate yelled. Brody grabbed at her arm, but she slipped from his grip before he could stop her. She descended on Calvin and the suitcase. He tugged harder trying to close the last few feet between him and The House.


She took hold of the free end of the suitcase and yanked it into the air, almost out of Calvin’s grip. He shot her a panicked look.


Kate looked at the House with its top step now bare. “I know,” she said, voice softer now. “It belongs to Suitcase House.” She helped Calvin carry the case toward the stair. Dropping it onto the one patch of darker brown left from The House's youth. One of the locks shot open.


The House shifted. Floorboards bowed and popped.


Kate and Calvin fled the porch shielding their eyes from falling debris.


The graveyard chain clanked and then dropped to the ground with a satisfying thud. Brody glanced down at the flaking rust like blood where the graveyard post had pierced the Anchor can. With a mighty groan, The House pulled itself off the last of the foundation.


 “Holy shit!” the three kids said in unison. Through the swirling clouds of dust, The House lurched toward the river valley. The gabled points of the roof, like shoulder blades, shifted as it gained speed.


Wide-eyed with the wonder of The House moving through the world they took off in pursuit. Moths filled the air like confetti at a parade.


Cresting a nearby hill, The House jostled and bounced the suitcase, which fell open dumping its contents. The kids ran after waving, but soon all that remained was a gray blur on the horizon. The creaking, groaning, chaos grew more and more distant. It left a trail of fifty-state collectible salt-n-pepper shakers, spoons, and wish-you-were-here postcards.


#


They followed The Suitcase House trail of items until it was lost to them. Brody collected the spoons, Calvin the salt-n-pepper shakers, and Kate the postcards.


The summer sun was dropping away when they made their way back past the empty farmstead. The moths settled on the still warm grasses, drowsily fanning their wings. The lightning bugs drifted out from the darker spaces behind the gravestones and the apple trees.


Brody picked up his coffee can of treasure and added the collectible spoons. At the bottom, he would find a couple of old rare coins. It wasn't enough to get his family out of debt, but it did postpone the farm sale long enough for his mom to find a second job. He made twenty-five dollars on the spoons at a yard sale.


Calvin had to get four stitches and a tetanus shot. He loved that scar, more than his dad loved the set of salt-n-pepper shakers he got every year for father’s day.


Their luck, regardless of touching the suitcase, never changed. It wasn’t always good, and it wasn’t always bad. Kate decorated every wall of her room with the postcards and made lists of the things and places she was curious to see. Chad Lambert never could prove he’d been in The House, and she no longer cared if anyone knew she had. She hung the last postcard over her door.


On the back, it said, "Off on an adventure. Will write more soon!"
 

About the Author

Chloie Piveral loves dogs, rayguns, octopuses, wind-up toys, and speculative fiction in all its permutations. A graduate of The Odyssey Writing Workshop, her fiction has appeared in Kaleidotrope, the Flame Tree Press anthology Robots & Artificial Intelligence, and Apparition Literary Magazine. Find her at cpiveral.com.

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