“Mom! Mom, look what’s happened!” Lily taps my hand. I’m slow coming to as she tries to tug me out of bed. Since my husband Flint, Lily’s pa, was fired last week, I’ve been trapped in recurrent nightmares that are hard to wake up from. What with me being six months pregnant, two kids and Grandpa Riley needing so much looking after, I don’t know how we’re going to survive.
“Mom!” Lily prods again, and pushes me towards her pa who’s standing by the window. It’s only then, noticing the upside-down lamp that makes me realize I’m walking on the ceiling and have just crawled out from under the bed, not on top of it.
Outside, I can see a ramshackle sprinkling of pastel-colored buildings, gritty tracks, flattened grass, what looks like a row of gas tanks and then the blue ocean.
“What the heavens!” I exclaim. Flint looks at me and shrugs.
“Get your brother, and someone check on Grandpa Riley,” I tell Lily.
It takes Flint and me a minute to open the largest window and walk out as if it were the front door. But it’s another thirty minutes to find Grandpa Riley, who’s ambled outside without even noticing that our house is the wrong way up and this isn’t Kansas.
“Look at those birds,” he gestures to some black-backed gulls and another kind of large seabird swooping over the harbor that the building sign calls ‘Port-aux-Français’.
By the time we get him back home, a small group of people have gathered around, pointing at our upside-down door and windows, and wanting to come inside. Flint shoos them away, while I set about putting our furniture the right way up. Funny thing is that everything still functions, nothing is broken, and the house seems even sturdier than before.
It takes us a week to get some internet and google. There are headlines about the tree in Kansas that was partly swallowed by a gigantic sink hole. No sign in the photos of our home that once stood beside it. No mention either in the accompanying articles. It’s as if our house never existed, nor the lives inside.
I guess ending up on the opposite side of the world might trouble some. Not us. The kids are excitedly exploring La Grande Terre, while Grandpa Riley takes up fishing and gossiping with the locals in a mixture of pidgin French, pidgin English and animated gestures. Even Flint is happy, and busy. He starts charging folks to look around our topsy-turvy home and sets up a website for ‘The House that Disappeared’. The scientists don’t get it, but this only intrigues them more. Word spreads across message boards, science portals and travel sites. A few pay to come in person, the rest subscribe for a daily hour of webcam.
After baby Flo arrives, Flint starts to carve miniature replicas of our home for me to paint, then sell as keepsakes to our occasional visitors or ship across the globe. This isn’t racking up a fortune. We’ve more than enough to get by on though, and we like the bracing yet cheery remote-island lifestyle, where everyone knows our names and our favorite dishes. It’s as if our old house in Kansas was never real, the life inside our new home better than we could have dreamed. Next year we’re even planning to host cruise ship guests! Intrigued? Go on, check us out here, and book your trip now!
S.A. Leavesley is a fiction writer, poet, journalist and photographer, with flash published by journals including Ellipsis, Jellyfish Review, Litro, Spelk, Reflex Fiction, Fictive Dream and Bending Genres. Her short novellas Always Another Twist and Kaleidoscope are published by Mantle Lane Press. Kaleidoscope is also available as an audiobook: amazon.co.uk/Kaleidoscope/.