At that moment, the room darkened and all our gazes flew to the window. Heavy clouds had swallowed the sun. A roll of thunder shook the windows, making us all jump. A few drops of moisture patted the porch steps.
“Finally,” Sandy said. “Guess you won’t need to be watering this afternoon, Clara.”
Clara grinned, showing the gap where a couple of molars were missing. She usually wore a bridge. “And a good thing, too,” she said. “Pump’s about wore out.”
Zoe crossed to the door. The rain started to get more serious about its intentions. “So much for working the horses.”
“Maybe it’ll cool things off a little, and we can ride later,” I said.
Zoe nodded, staring through the screen. “Did you want all that luggage to get washed?”
For a moment, I couldn’t figure out what she meant.
“Oh, crap.” I bolted through the door and down the steps.
“Take the Gator,” Clara yelled.
I jumped into the seat and cranked the engine. Sandy slid in beside me, and Zoe ran ahead. She was already swinging the largest piece through the air by the time we reached her. It thumped into the bed. Sandy and I each nabbed a suitcase and flung them on top of the other. Zoe picked up an old-fashioned square cosmetics bag and started running back to the house.
I made a circle as fast as the Gator was able—which was kinda slow. Clara’s husband, Hank, grumbled you needed a forty-acre field to turn the thing around. With six wheels, quick maneuvering wasn’t what it was made for.
“Hell of a kid,” Sandy observed as we rumbled up the drive.
“Lot’s of energy,” I said.
The kid in question had already deposited the bag inside and was coming back for more.
My parents and Clara stood on the porch watching. Through the curtain of rain, my father had a funny look on his face—a kind of self-deprecating or apologetic frown. My mother looked as if she’d like to worry her lip but couldn’t allow her lipstick to get smudged.
We pulled up, and I killed the engine. Clara grabbed a smallish bag and hauled it in. Sandy and I took the rest.
“This one here’s on the light side,” Clara said when we were standing in the front room again.
Me and Sandy and Zoe dribbled water into little pools around our feet.
“Now that you mention it,” I said. “They were all lighter than I expected.”
My mother’s eyes had a strange glint to them. My father heaved a deep breath.
“That,” he said, “is because they’re all empty.”
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