Tina and Victor Reed’s new property was anything but a sight for sore eyes. At first glance, anything that remotely resembled living quarters was falling apart, with paint peeling off and termites carving their presence through the splintering wood. The weeds were way overgrown, the shutters on the windows were hanging off their hinges dangerously, and the cement path leading up to the front door was overwhelmed with cracks. Despite the obvious work that was desperately needed all over the place, the Reed’s couldn’t ignore the presumed sense of home that so many new houses lacked. When the new owners finally drove up the gravel driveway, they were mesmerized by the perfect family portrait that was painted right before their eyes. The farmhouse was set against a beautiful sunset, gorgeous reds, oranges and purples smeared above a diminishing sun. A large forest was nestled beside the house, stretching over 200 acres of untouched land. Looking at their property, the Reeds were convinced that this ensured their family would grow closer, especially when the closest neighbours were ten kilometres away. Tina and Victor Reed could strengthen the failing relationship with their daughter, who was distant with her head permanently in the clouds, daydreaming about a much more exciting fantasy than her boring reality. Moving out to the country gave them the perfect opportunity to broaden the vague communication they were forced to engage in when they were in each other’s company. From the parental perspective, nothing could go wrong.
From the teenage daughter, everything was already wrong.
Time never seemed to go by slower than on the drive to the new home. Victor was practically bouncing in the passenger seat, dancing away to over-played, mainstream radio music. Tina was calm and collected, overpowered by the need to reassure her daughter that she was going to love everything once they were settled in. Much to her dismay, Coralie just stared blankly out the window in response.
Once they stopped on the edge of the lawn, Coralie surprised the two adults by ambitiously jumping out of the Volkswagen and hurrying away in the direction of abandoned grass fields. Tina and Victor didn’t even question their daughter’s urgency to escape them; they just let her go on her way. With Coralie ditching them for peace and quiet, they had no qualms about rushing to get her stuff unpacked and put away.
“She was sure fast to get rid of us,” Victor muttered to his oblivious wife as they heaved their luggage out of the trunk together.
Tina paused for a second, thinking over what she wanted to say. The words didn’t come until she’d grabbed hold of Coralie’s luggage. “You know this move was hard on her… she probably misses her friends...” Tina sighed as she gave one great pull on the handle of Coralie’s bag; it was especially heavy.
“Coralie has been reclusive and introverted her entire life; I can’t imagine that she made many friends. And if she did, they probably didn’t stick around very long. Here, let me help you.” Victor reached for Tina and the suitcase handle.
Victor’s wife shrank away from his touch, horrified by his words. She dropped the bag instantly, leaving Victor to struggle with it by himself. “Why must you be so negative?” Tina crossed her arms and scowled at her husband, who stood in front of her with a belittling expression on his aging face. She stormed towards the house without another word.