The Thing in the Walls Wants Your Small Change by Virginia M. Mohlere
Welcome to Short Fiction Friday! Every Friday, Black Forest Basilisks will be shining a spotlight on a new short story, novelette, or novella in addition to our regular posts. These stories will usually be available for free online, but occasionally stories from published anthologies will also be featured.
This story is available online for free at: Luna Station Quarterly. Click through to read!
The penny was gone again in the morning. Caro rolled her eyes and put another one down.
It was the biggest mystery of her new life in Chicago – which, as troubles go, she was not going to complain about. It wasn’t like an extra half-dollar or so each month to appease her greedy house ghost was going to crack her budget, but it vexed her.
Well. And there was that scratchy sound behind the wall in the back hallway, next to the bathroom.
Have I mentioned I’m a real sucker for adorable, feel-good stories? Because I absolutely, 100% am. No question about it. The Thing in the Walls Wants Your Small Change scratched that itch perfectly, and then some. This story recently won an award for best small fiction, presented by WSFA at Capclave 2019.
This small vignette of a young woman starting out in her professional career is a painfully brittle, yet filled with hope and optimism. Caro has just moved to Chicago to escape an abusive home situation brought on by a mother who doesn’t know how to take no for an answer. When she moves to Chicago, everything initially seems wonderful. She has a lovely new house, has recently met another wonderful young woman who cares for her deeply, and the neighborhood is as friendly as can be.
However, Caro has a problem: she has a very greedy house spirit haunting her. Whenever she drops a coin, it has disappeared by morning. Although this alone wouldn’t be so bad, the strange scratching noises she keeps hearing are much, much more concerning. When Caro’s mother catches on to her whereabouts, her troubles are only compounded.
Mohlere takes Caro’s story across many facets of her life, painting with a broad, abstract brush to fill in the details that can’t fit into a short story. We see her painful family situation, we see the hurt in her soul when she sees a family she could have had. Most importantly, we also see her redemption. We see the power of care and loyalty in those we love.
I would highly recommend this story to anyone looking for a little chicken soup for the soul.
Past Short Fiction Friday featured stories can be viewed on my archives page.
Have you read this story? What did you think? Do you have any questions about it?
Let me know in the comments below!