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Chapter 2 - New House

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The station wagon parked with a slight squeak in the broken driveway of their new home. It was a small white house with chipping paint, a bent porch and bushes and grass growing up all around. It wasn't as big as the old house, but it was new, something to explore.

"Whoa, mom, we have woods behind our house!" Dylan pointed as he hopped out of the car. "This is so cool."

"So?" Mom asked, looking over at Lincoln, her hands outstretched in question. The expression on her face was a mixture of hope and apprehension. So Lincoln smiled.

"Looks great, mom." And the visible relief in her mom's face was worth the lie. 

***

The porch steps squeaked and cracked as they hefted their bags into the house. Particles of dust floated in the rays of light through hazy kitchen windows. It smelled a little like mold and mothballs, and smoke. 

Lincoln sat her duffel bag on the table and looked around, and behind her Dylan stomped along through the house, opening every door that he could find and exploring. He audibly gasped, and ooh'd and aahh'd every time he found something new. 

"Alright," Mom said as she came down the flight of stairs which also squeaked, but, in a different sort of way. "Decisions, decisions people." She put a hand on her hip and pointed at Lincoln with the other. 

"You're the oldest," she said, "so you get room rights, which one you want? There's one by the stairs, further on this side..." Mom pointed along the ceiling above them. "And the other one is in the back corner of the house, but it has a great view of the woods." 

"I'll try the one with the view," Lincoln answered and scooped her bag up again. 

"Aww..." Dylan grumbled, "I wanted to see the woods," 

"I'm sure you'll see plenty," Mom ruffled his hair, "now stop whining and go explore the upstairs." In a blink, Dylan was rushing up the stairs past Lincoln and stomping down the hallways. 

"Watch it," Link muttered after him as she reached the top of the steps. The house felt cold and quiet, like it was more of a shell of a home that might have once been. It was a thought that Lincoln didn't really appreciate, not right then anyway. 

Dylan's room was right by the stairs, and then down the hall to the left was the bathroom, and past that to the right was Link's new room. She stepped inside and finally felt allowed to sigh. It wasn't the room, it was just... everything. 

Her mom had been right though, the room was small and square, but there was a large rectangular window that looked out over the forest behind their home. Leaving a more suburban area on the outskirts of the city, she'd never really been around so many trees before. They stretched out and out, all the way to the faded blue mountains in the distance. 

There wasn't much in the room. Just a bed frame and old mattress with a couple of sketchy stains, a twice repainted dresser against one of the walls and closet door that looked like it had been scratched up by a cat.

Lincoln heard the stomping and the sliding of sneakers on wood as Dylan skidded to a halt at her door. 

"So this is your room?" He said in awe. "This is so cool, and the window- you can see for miles and miles until the Earth rolls away and you can't see it anymore."

"Yeah, it is cool," Lincoln said, and she kind of meant it.

They both turned when they heard Mom coming up the stairs, and she stopped in the doorway, pair of yellow latex gloves on her hands, and she brandished a duster. 

"Alright you two," she said, "we better get to cleaning lest we contract any strange diseases."

 

"I don't want any strange diseases," Dylan frowned. 

 

"Then come one," Mom beckoned, and started back down the hall. "We got a lot of work to do, but when we're done, I'm ordering pizza."

 

Dylan followed his mom out of the room, but Lincoln stayed behind. She went over and unlatched the window, grunting as she worked to pull it open. When it finally came free a fresh breeze entered the room, the smell of pine and cedar touching her nose. 

 

Her eyes scanned the vast amount of trees, and the mountains in the distance. There were three of them to be exact, all of them side by side like wide, angular triangles, covered in rock and trees. She stared at them for a long moment, and vaguely, in the back of her mind recalled a dirt road, and bright light.

 

***

"Pizza's here!" Mom called as she took off her gloves and went to answer the door. Lincoln sighed and wiped the sweat from her brow. She was exhausted, but the house really was beginning to look so much better. 

 

Most of the dust had been wiped away, the countertops had been cleaned off, and all of the weird goo that had accumulated in the old fridge was gone too, well, mostly gone. Even though it was a little past noon, the house was still kind of dark inside, so they had opened all the windows downstairs to let the fresh air blow through the house. 

 

Mom came back in with a grease stained box of pizza and two liter of soda. She set them down on the table, and in their hunger, Lincoln and Dylan rushed over to it, immediately grabbing a piece.

 

"Ice, ice, ice..." Their mom muttered as she opened the fridge and sighed. "I forgot, this thing is a hundred years old..." She found an old metal ice tray and started to fill it up before dumping it all back out again and just leaving the tray in the sink. The water was a little less than clear. 

 

"Alright guys," she said, "warm soda it is, anybody got a problem with that?"

 

Lincoln and Dylan shook their heads, mouths full.

 

The three of them sat quiet at the kitchen table. They didn't have any plates, so they ate on the paper towels that they hadn't used to clean. For a moment, everything was peaceful, calm, and the world was starting to feel strangely normal again.

 

Then Mom's phone rang. She had it sitting on the table beside her, and it lit up, and without even meaning to, Lincoln had seen the name of the caller. 

 

Dad. 

 

Mom didn't say anything. She just stood up, and walked outside and into the overgrown back yard. Dylan watched her go, and he didn't say anything either. He just ate his pizza in silence. 

 

It was so quiet that they could hear the faint sound of their mother talking, and they could make out the heated tone, if they couldn't quite make out the words. Well, they could make out the swear words, those were obvious enough.

 

But it was also quiet enough that Lincoln's ears perked up at a new sound. The sound of a car pulling up to their house. Even Dylan turned his head at the noise, and Lincoln got up, walking over to the front door to see who it was.

 

And there, pulling into the driveway, was the policeman.

 

***        

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