The house on slits (excerpt)

Lea remembered that spring when they drove to the abandoned beach in Little Woods Lake and Wendy took her shoes off at the entrance. Her dainty feet mixed with the dark greenish waves as it touched the sand, speckled with old fish bones left behind by pelicans. Lea tried to walk barefoot, but the broken shells and rocks were too hard on her feet. “You have jungle feet,” Lea said, putting her sneakers back on. They kept walking along the sand, taking notice of ordinary things. One footprint had three toes, possibly belonging to a Great Egret. “A Blue Heron,” Wendy said. There was another set that appeared to be dog prints then they found more bird prints, same as the last, then human footprints. “I wonder whose these are? They seem so human.” Lea asked, smiling at Wendy. “Follow them and you’ll find out,” Wendy said in an ominous tone, walking ahead.

From a distance Lea saw a rusty, orange tin in the shape of a man with a hat and a pipe. He was only two or three feet tall. He stood behind a makeshift camp, left in disarray with cans of beer and old liquor bottles, ashes, and rock stumps. Above them was a small dark blue house on stilts connected to a long pier. The door was open, and from below Lea could see a fan and some furniture. Was anyone home? They walked on and saw the mess outside more clearly: a battered couch with two side chairs hanging out waiting for someone to sit. Behind the house, more junk— haplessly left behind— bins, surfing boards, and fishing equipment. Lea was almost certain someone was hiding up there, but no one came out. They kept walking and didn’t see much else except another house in the distance and some bodies languidly standing next to wooden stilts. Wendy didn’t want to go on further. 

“Maybe I’ll see someone I know,” she said.

“What makes you think that?”

“People from town sometimes come here.”

They treaded back to the blue house on slits and found a staircase on the side, leading to a porch. They walked around the house, passing crab cages tied to one of the columns, and a large boiling pot for crawfish. Lea headed to the metal door that led to the long pier. She assumed it was closed, but when she pulled, it easily opened. The floorboards were not all intact— some had fallen off. “We might wanna be careful.” Wendy only half heard the warnings, and briskly passed the shaky boards, making sure not to fall through the gaps.

Lea was almost sure Wendy had brought her to this beach to push her into the water for calling her, “a dirty slob.” She laughed at this thought, remembering Wendy’s half eaten pizza on the counter and flies festering for days. She considered how easy it would be to kill someone here. Wendy brought her here, because Lea was the only one who she trusted.