Even though this had never been a real tradition, Mom and Dad chose a ski trip, because they wanted to do something with all the trappings of a classic family vacation before Lily going off to school changed everything. The fact that no one knew how to ski was just a small obstacle.
Mom and Dad were thrilled by the remote, rustic cabin on the side of what amounted to a modest hill for this part of the country. It had just the right combination of appearing quaint, but having all the comforts a modern vacationer could need. Mom ooed and ahhed at the fireplace and closets full of ski gear. A typed note said to help themselves to anything left behind by others. Between the dozens of jackets and goggles and boots available, everyone was thoroughly outfitted.
Exhaustion after their first day on the slopes slumped everyone into the old, leather furniture around the fire. Calvin flipped through the album of pictures left by previous renters. Testimonials were inserted after each family’s photos, all written on the same typewriter, which he guessed was stored in the nearby antique roll-top desk. Each spoke of having a wonderful time, enjoying the solitude, and wanting to come back. But as Calvin flipped forward, he saw no returned visitors.
Until he did. On a picture dated two years ago, just barely visible in the background, was a kid he was sure had been in a previous picture. Calvin flipped back a few years till he found it, and sure enough, there he was. It was the same kid, no doubt. He was even the same age. Calvin stared again at the picture of the couple. Then he felt a shiver, despite the fire.
Mom was wearing the pictured woman’s exact coat. In turn, Calvin found each of the outfits they had taken from the closets on a previous cabin tenant in the album.
“You guys,” he started, but the door beyond the porch slammed shut, interrupting him. He wanted to attribute it to the wind, but the lock clicked with no one there to turn it.
Typewriter keys tapping sounded from inside the antique roll top desk.