6. Amy takes a picture of the little red suitcase Zoe uses to run away from home.
Amy takes a picture of the little red suitcase Zoe uses to run away from home. Zoe runs away from home once or twice a week. She takes the dog and goes and sits beneath the pear tree that every year at the tail end of summer produces inedible pears that their dad picks up and throws away. The pear tree is in between the front yard and the backyard, a no man’s land, where Zoe believes that no one will think to look for her.
She whiles away the fifteen to twenty minutes it always takes her to run away from home playing with the plastic animal figurines she has packed and distributing provisions evenly between her and the dog. To the dog she gives the brown treats, which are flavored like lamb and vegetable. For herself she reserves the green treats, which are chicken. The peanut butters they share.
On the side of the suitcase containing the figurines and the Milk-Bones is a little picture of a girl in front of a white picket fence. Above her float the words Going to Grandma’s.
But the picture Amy takes does not show this, because what interests Amy is the things the suitcase contains. So while Zoe is in the bathroom she snaps it open and lays it splayed atop their rumpled constellation-print sheets. She points her Polaroid down but can’t fit it, so she gets on the bed and stands over it, points, and pulls the shutter swiftly with her forefinger.
Of the numerous plastic animal figurines in her collection, Zoe has chosen one elephant and a family of giraffes. Then, in addition to the small box of Milk-Bones, there is a toothbrush, one sock with a friendly-looking shark that prowls the ankle, and a framed five-by-seven photograph, black and white, of Dorothy holding Toto up to her cheek, the two of them gazing off into the distance. The photograph takes up a massive percentage of the space inside the little red suitcase, and Amy wonders why her sister takes it when she runs away from home, since it is just a piece of someone else’s junk they got at a garage sale.
Then Zoe comes back and catches her red-handed, still standing over her stuff, and she screams and hollers like a wild banshee until Amy offers her a piece of tropical fruit punch gum.