The upstairs of the carriage house was a big open space where there had once been dances. Now it was empty except for dust and black widows. The balcony looked out on an overgrown lawn, complete with a rusty antique carriage in the clutches of jasmine vines. Sam was convinced that the cause of a powerful stench was a body someone had concealed under the upstairs floorboards. Nailed out of sight, out of mind. She half-remembered doing it herself. What had it felt like to pry the planks apart and slide the body down into the narrow opening between the joists?

When she was sixteen she met a roofer who would beat her at cards. But she knew you can kill someone with a card if you throw it fast enough. It just takes a lot of practice. Upstairs in the carriage house, Sam with a deck of cards, practicing papercuts.

She found the cards now, but the deck was incomplete. Did she know where the missing card was? Under the floorboards? Embedded deep where it shouldn’t have been in the soft flesh of a roofer’s neck?

Sam lay down on the dusty floor now, cheek on the grey planks. I can hear you stirring. I don’t think you died. Maybe because the card didn’t do its job after all.

I don’t think that really happened. But if it didn’t then where is the missing card?


This morning was ice-cream. Blue and magenta icecream that dripped down the cone because it was so hot out. Her hands were still sticky. Sticky as she counted cards of every suit.


Sam found a crowbar outside in the shed. She took it upstairs and dug it in and pried. The floorboards wouldn’t cooperate. Until finally they lifted. She reached her hand into the dark hole. Nothing: dust.

The roofer used to meet her up here. As the setting sun blasted orange across their faces, they’d discuss quantum physics and play endless games. She’d order him to do things, like lick an old leather chair clean with his tongue.

Pry, pry, pry. Still no body. I could have sworn… She kept prying back boards until the hole had widened into an opening roughly the size of an adult man. She knelt at the side of the hole and lifted something out, gingerly. It was a ten of diamonds, half-encrusted in dried blood. She kissed it. Then she stepped down into the hole. She lay down between the joists where she imagined the roofer’s body had been and pulled the floorboards over her. They dropped back into place perfectly. She lay in the dark, under the boards, holding the bloody card in her mouth. It was bitter on her tongue.

Then she heard the sound of footsteps. They came across the room and stopped on the wood planks directly above her. She didn’t make a sound, knowing she’d need to remain under there for a very long time. Closing her eyes, she waited.



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