It wasn’t until about five hours of searching later that I found the right house. It was completely surrounded by twelve-foot walls with plenty of yard-space. In the back yard there was a huge, overgrown, vegetable garden. The vegetables had run wild and now spread all the way up to the house. Some of the squash and cucumbers had even began to climb up the walls. The inside of the house was amazingly still mostly furnished. It had several broken down beds in three different rooms. The living-room had two dusty couches, one filthy love-seat, and one torn recliner.
I went into the middle of the room and sat down on the floor, in front of a huge, ornate fireplace. I closed my eyes and concentrated for a little bit, then opened them to see all the dust and grime of the years gathering up in a pile in the middle of the room. When it was done I felt exhausted but the room was now actually livable. I went over to the sink and turned it on…usually the utility people don’t bother to shut off the water to the areas that have become uninhabited because they need a way to get water between the parts that are inhabited…water gushed out in a fast stream. At first it was an earthy brown from rusty and long unused pipes, but it quickly cleared out and the water ran clear. I took a big gulp of it and then splashed some on my face.
As I turned around I nearly jumped out of my skin. Mary and Toby stood there with their hands behind their backs. “What are you doing here?” I demanded angrily. They couldn’t be here! I couldn’t take care of them! What if mom and her idiot boyfriend were following them! Then I would have to find a whole new spot and this place had not been easy to find!
“Mom sent us to find you,” Mary replied unflinchingly. Oh, great…just great…
“Why don’t you two just go on home and say you couldn’t find me then…because there is no way I can take care of you all on my own.”
“You took care of us when we were at home…why can’t you now?” Mary asked.
“That was different! I had a job then! I could provide for you!”
“There is a big garden in the yard here…can’t that bring us food?” I sighed and was about to say they should go home anyways when Mary cut in before I could. “If you make us go home, we will tell mom where you are.”
I looked up at the ceiling in frustration. “Fine! You can stay! But if you are going to stay then go make yourselves useful and weed the garden. Make sure you only pull up plants that don’t make food!” Mary nodded and took Toby into the greenhouse which covered most of the back yard. It contained mostly fruit trees and the most delicate plants. The weather here was crazy, there was no winter or summer season, but rather each day was unpredictable. It might be summer today, winter tomorrow, and then autumn the next. Because of that plants were always in bloom, but the weather could still kill them.
Once Mary and Toby had left I collapsed on the couch and was asleep almost immediately. It was about time I had a well deserved rest.