September 30, 2019

TEN SILVER SPOONS by Chip Jett

"You don't want those spoons.
The curse on them is bad.
People die because of that curse..."

We never asked Sasha Giroux to play, though my heartstrings pulled in her direction so hard my chest hurt. It still does if I think too long about it. Sasha’s parents took her from the public school to homeschool a few days before her trailer house burned, one street over from mine.
“It’s Sasha’s place, alright,” I yelled down from the treetops to Kyle, trying to make my voice heard over the firetrucks swarming Walker Drive. “It’s still smoking, but the fire’s out.”
“Maybe we’ll go tonight,” Kyle said, “poke around in the ashes, see if we can find anything.”
Tendrils of smoke rose from what was left of Sasha’s single-wide trailer. Its metal frame stood, silhouetted, over the newly turned grave of ashes. Kyle stirred around, flicking larger pieces to get to whatever simmered beneath. The ash was cool where I dug, far from the little spouts of smoke rising, cratering the surface of the moon-like remains.
Pretty quick, I found the first spoon.
“Give me that,” Kyle said.
He looked the spoon over several times, shined it with a little spit, scratched at it with his nails.
“It’s silver.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yeah, really. My dad says silver is about the most valuable thing on earth. If we find enough of these, we can melt them down and make silver bullets.”
I wish I would have asked more about his dad’s theories on silver.
Somewhere around midnight, we counted our haul – seven spoons. The moon, which had hidden itself for much of our search, materialized. In an instant of illumination, most of Walker Drive glowed with unnatural light. The woods behind both sides of the street, however, remained pitch black. It was from there, behind the ashes of Sasha’s trailer, that a gut-wrenching howl pierced the night.
We ran.
“There’s more, you know,” Kyle said, once back in the safety of home. “This can’t be all of them.” The kitchen fireplace popped a couple of times, little gunshots firing loud enough to scare me all over again.
“We’re going back tomorrow for the rest.”
Sasha Giroux found us there, that late summer afternoon, elbows deep in what was left of her home.
“What you got there?” she asked, nodding at the spoons piled on a blackened cinder block. We’d found three more.
“None of your business,” my step brother said.
“My house, my business,” she said, chomp chomping her gum. “Who are you?”
“Uh, Daniel,” I said, devastated she didn’t recognize me.
“Okay, Uh, Daniel,” she said. “Those spoons belong to me. I need them.”
By this time, the sun was slipping away, the lingering purple light no longer enough to dig by. Kyle clapped the ash off his hands, snatched the spoons, and shoved them into his pocket. Without a word, he walked across the street and into the woods.
“Those spoons you and your brother stole are cursed,” she said. “They’re made from silver that’s killed werewolves in my family.” She said this to me in the confident way children tell impossible tales, with the honesty of either ignorance or innocence; I wasn’t sure which. Either way, I acted like I didn’t hear. 
“Step brother,” I said. Then, “Look, I have to go. My mom is calling,” I lied.
Sasha followed me across the street.
“You don’t want those spoons. The curse on them is bad. People die because of that curse.”
“I don’t think Kyle will give them back to you,” I said, slipping under the fence. “We found some last night, and nothing bad happened. Besides, everybody knows curses aren’t real. Neither are werewolves.”
I held the wire between two barbs, and Sasha did the same. Our hands might have touched if not for the spikes between them, and that would have been alright with me.
“The silver in them is cursed,” she said. “No matter what we do, it finds its way back to my family. It has for hundreds of years.”
“If silver can kill a werewolf,” I said, suspending disbelief, “couldn’t somebody just use any old silver to kill you?”
“They could,” she said, not skipping a beat, “but regular silver has to get us in the heart; the cursed silver just has to pierce our skin, anywhere, and we die.
“Hey,” Sasha said, grabbing my arm in sudden inspiration. “If you give me the spoons, I’ll show you.”
“Show me what?”
“You bring those spoons back tonight and put them on that cement block. Hide under that rusted-out camper top; it’s facing my trailer, see? You do that, Uh-Daniel, and I’ll show you a werewolf.”
“Why are you telling me all of this?” I asked. “I mean, you didn’t even remember me from school.” I couldn’t resist letting her have a peek at my damaged pride. “If you’re from a family of werewolves, isn’t that something you shouldn’t run around telling people?”
Sasha smiled. Stunning.
“Because I like you, Uh-Daniel. I just can’t like you, like you.” She shrugged again and said, “Plus, I can make you forget.”
Sasha pulled me close to the fence and leaned across the barbed wire. She planted a kiss on my cheek; I flushed ten shades of red and hoped it was too dark for her to notice.
“Hey!” I feigned protest.
“You didn’t mind that a minute ago, when I kissed you here,” she said, pointing to my lips.
I stood at the fence, alone, listening to the sweet sounds of Sasha’s laughter as she raced away through the woods. She left me there, trying to remember a kiss that may or may not have happened.
Of all the things Sasha told me that night, I hoped, most of all, the kiss had been real.
By the time I got home, Kyle and his father were gone. Mom said they went to Louisiana to start a new life, and that neither of us should be sad about it, and neither of us were.
At eleven-thirty I grabbed my jacket and the spoons and left my mother’s house.
There were no clouds, and the moon sparkled off the cinder block. By the time I crawled under the camper top, it was eleven forty-five.
Across the street and behind the skeleton of Sasha’s trailer, something stirred in the woods. Twigs cracked and then something larger, a sapling perhaps, snapped like a femur. The wind was dead, but leaves shook anyway.
It was coming.
The werewolf lumbered into view. Its eyes glowed red and its fur shone silver. It walked on two legs, and it was tall. Claws dragged the ground, leaving four perfect three inch-spaced rows, as if tilling for a garden.
When it reached the cinder block, it engulfed the spoons in one hand. I counted with the werewolf as it sorted through the collection.
Together, we counted nine spoons.
Nine.
The werewolf shuffled the spoons again through massive claws, faster this time. I hadn’t counted the spoons earlier. I trusted Kyle to leave them as they were, but I knew now what he had done.
Somewhere on the road between here and Louisiana, Kyle had the cursed, spit-shined tenth spoon this werewolf wanted.
I gulped. The creature snapped its head in my direction so quickly I had no time to move, but I did anyway, praying it had not spotted me.
Of course it had.
The werewolf kicked, like a bull pawing the ground to charge. Monstrous claws tore chunks of earth as it reached under the camper’s edge and flung it beyond the fence and into the pasture. The werewolf threw its head back and howled the same death-knell that had frozen my blood the night before. A low, sustained growl vibrated my bones. I closed my eyes and waited for the beast to rip me apart.
“Where’s the tenth spoon?”
A familiar voice. Sasha.
Her right hand rested on the werewolf’s knee, and her eyes, too, glowed red.
“She wants that last spoon,” Sasha said. “You should probably give it to her.”
I managed to say, “I can’t!” Words caught in my throat. “Kyle took it with him to Louisiana!” I cried like the frightened child I was. “I swear!”
The werewolf slumped, ever so slightly, and stopped growling. Its chest heaved with labored breaths, teeth glistening in a perpetual grin.
“We believe you,” she said, “but that silver killed my father. My real father. I stay here, with my mother’s friends, hoping I, at least, won’t be found. We’ve managed to keep the cursed silver safe this long, hidden from hunters, like Kyle and his father. But now...”
She climbed onto her bike, parked at the edge of the road.
“This time I need you to remember.” She smiled. “If you ever see your brother again, get the spoon from him, will you?”
She pedaled her bike after the werewolf and into the woods.
“Step brother,” I said to the empty street, guessing correctly, I would never see Sasha again.
Chip Jett is a teacher at a small school in Georgia.  His stories have appeared in several literary magazines, including The First Line and Curating Alexandria, and in online publications as well, including Cadaverous Magazine and Freedom Fiction. His story "Victory Neighbor" will appear this fall in The Raw Art Review. Find him on Facebook at Jettstories, on Instagram at chipjettthewriter, and on Twitter @chipjett_writer.

Cover: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff

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