Editors' Prize Winner | June 19, 2020

Sometime in late March the camper trailer appears: fifteen feet long with a crude black-and-green paint job, discarded on our property behind Starbucks, Little Caesars, and the AT&T store. It sits parallel to one of the metal outbuildings my father rents from my sister-in-law, my husband, and me for his woodworking projects, the front-end tongue jack balanced on a block of wood as if someone has planned to set up camp in our gravel parking lot. Zebra-print curtains flap in the open window. The door dangles from one hinge.

I don’t remember exactly when my father tells me about it or when I first mention it to my husband and his sister. My mother-in-law, the actual owner of the property, has recently, unexpectedly, died from complications related to diabetes.

“Don’t worry,” my father assures me, “I’ll get rid of it.”

He reports it to the police, who write down the license plate number and tag the street-side window with a bright pink sticker. After a few weeks pass with no response, he calls again. An officer tells him the phone number linked to the plate is out of service. There is nothing they can do. The city does not tow abandoned vehicles from private property.

“Where in the hell do our taxes go?” he asks me.

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