That warm, bright, sunny Sunday morning just before lunch my older brother Simon was driving himself and I to our new house. Our parents, along with younger siblings Ruthie and the twins Sam and David, were soon coming in the big white family van. We were moving bc we needed more space. Simon pulled up to a large, tall wrought iron gate behind which were several large houses on either side of the black road. The green lawns in front of the houses were manicured.

"Which one is ours?" Simon asked from the black driver's seat.

He looked through the gate. I followed his gaze. He was asking which house.

"I don't know," I replied from the black passengers seat; "your guess is as good as mine."

My cell buzzed with a text from Ruthie; u there yet?

ya, I sent. which 1's ours?

"How do we get in?" Simon wondered.

Set in the tall stone post next to the gate was a small white round button.

"I assume that's the doorbell," I said.

"Oh. There's a doorbell for a gate?"

He was surprised and confused by this.

it's the back, last 1, Ruthie texted.

She was answering my earlier question.

Simon automatically rolled down his window leaned over and pushed in the doorbell. The gates automatically slowly opened. They opened together.

"Wow," he said driving forward.

He was in awe of how big and nice everything was.

The gates closed behind us.

"It's so. quiet," I observed.

There weren't any people on their lawns, balconies or out walking.

"Which one's ours?" Simon asked.

"At the back, last one."

He drove past the other to the last house. It was big and white with a huge stone 2nd floor balcony.

"I have a key," Simon said pulling up to the curb and parking.

He meant for the front door.

"There's a garage," I said, looking at the attached garage.

I was saying we could park in the garage.

"I know but I want Mom and Dad to be able to find us. And we don't have a garage door opener thingy."

"Oh. Ok."

He unlocked the doors of the car. We unbuckled, opened the doors and got out, going to the front door of the large house. Simon unlocked and opened it.

"It's dark," I noted.

It was cold too.

He tried, unsuccessfully, to flip a light switch on the wall.

"Yeah and we, apparently need new lights. I wonder if there are any here."

We walked forward into what I think was the living room. The blinds were drawn. In the dim light we didn't see any furniture.

"There, isn't any furniture in here," I said.

He walked into the next room.

"Or in here," he called.

I heard him walking across a wooden floor into another room; "or this one."

I looked up at the ceiling noticing the part around the missing lightbulb was cracked. There were wires hanging from the spot.

"Hey the ceiling's cracked," I called.

"Yeah in here too. And so are the walls, actually."

I looked from the ceiling to the walls and noticed they had a few small dark cracks in them.

god how old was this place?

He came back into the living room.

"I'll go get some of the boxes," he said.

"Ok."

I followed him outside where the rest of our family was standing on the sidewalk. They were the first people wed seen here.

"Hi," Mom said.

"Hi it's unfurnished. And, the ceiling and walls have cracks in them. And, we don't have any lightbulbs," Simon informed her looking at her.

"Ok we'll take care of that," Dad said looking at him.

"We get to go shopping? That is so cool," my younger sister Ruthie said.

"I have to find a good school and church and jobs..." Mom rattled off.

"I'll take them shopping while you look around the neighborhood and find out about schools," Simon told mom and dad.

Mom looked at him: "thanks."

"We'll stay here w/ the twins," dad said.

"Are Elizabeth, matt and Mary coming?"

"Yeah they should be."

"Ok."

Elizabeth was matt's girlfriend. She was pregnant but not by him. Our family had sortof taken her in when we'd learned her ex had run off with another woman when they were together.

Simon, ruthie and I went into his car. The doors were still unlocked. He went around to the back and opened that big door and the 2 side doors. There were medium size brown cardboard boxes in the car. He took 2 stacked on top of each other and brought them into the house w/ dad following. Then mom came then me and ruthie. We set them on the soft living room carpet by the wall. I assumed the wall was white. We continued this for awhile untill we had all the boxes wed brought. There were more in the van. Mom went into what I thought was the kitchen. Dad went outside.

"wow this room is big," she said: "and dark."

"well it's a good thing we brought lamps," dad said coming back in.

He bent down and plugged a white power strip into the wall and a tall black standing lamp into the power strip. He did this in the living room and kitchen. The rooms were now lit.

"it seems weird to have a standing lamp in the kitchen," mom said.

"yeah it does," dad agreed.

Ruthie went in and opened the fridge.

"and we don't have any food in here. Or light. Apparently," she observed annoyed.

"and we don't have any food in here either," mom said opening the cabinets.

"and we don't have any food in here either," mom said opening the cabinets.

"how long has it been since anyone lived here?" dad stated.

"well awhile. Maybe."

"oh look there are cracks in the walls here too," ruthie said still annoyed.

"ill fix those," dad said.

"and the faucets which. don't work. And the stove and oven," mom said.

"right."

I was right. The living room did have white walls. It was unfurnished.


Simon, ruthie and I went outside and into his car. We drove out of the gated area and onto the street where we noticed there weren't any cars.

"Where's the store?" Simon asked.

"Grocery or bedding?" ruthie asked.

"Either."

"idinno your guess is as good as mine."

He rounded a corner.

"Ok anyone think this is a bit weird? I mean…there isn't anyone else driving," I said.

"Yeah I'd say more than a bit," Simon said.

"Where is everyone?"

Simon, ruthie and I went outside and into his car. We drove out of the gated area and onto the street where we noticed there weren't any cars.

"Where's the store?" Simon asked.

"Grocery or bedding?" ruthie asked.

"Either."

"idinno your guess is as good as mine."

He rounded a corner.

"Ok anyone think this is a bit weird? I mean…there isn't anyone else driving," I said.

"Yeah I'd say more than a bit," Simon said.

"Where is everyone?"

"idinno."

"Well I hope the store's open."

When we got to the store we discovered it was in fact open. But there weren't any customers inside. Other than us.

"um should we go in even though there isn't anyone here?" simon asked.

"I don't see why not," I said.

"ok," ruthie said.

Wed been standing outside the big store. The automatic doors slid open and we went in. it was air conditioned.

"so, if theres not anyone here and theres not a self-checkout, who do we give the money to when we purchase the itema?" simon asked.

"I don't know. We could just leave it," I said.

"yeah but somehow that doesn't seem right."

"lets go find the bedding section," ruthie said.

"its prolly at the back some…where."

We walked to the back.

"hi can I help you?" a voice asked.

We turned and saw a stunning woman simons age behind us. She was in a long black skirt and red sleeveless shirt.

"yeah do you work here?" simon asked.

"yes."

"ok where are your…?"

"at the back."

"right ok. And your tvs are…?"

"ill show you."

"ok."

She led simon away while ruthie and I went to look at the bed linens.