The next day Michael and his mum were in another taxi. Michael watched the dirt path leading the lake pass by. Most of the houses around here looked normal. But when he glanced down a side-street he saw bigger, mansion-like ones. Some of them distinctively creepy in appearance.
“Must be nice to live in one of those,” he murmured. His mother laughed at the hint of sarcasm. The house was on the small side, as expected. It was bigger than their usual homes with dark brick walls and a garage attachment in need of paint. A small beat-up car was already there. Michael wondered how mum had managed that. If she'd gone to the efforts to buy a car, she might be planning on staying here longer than usual. He left the car and gathered most of their bags from the boot. His mother took the remainder and shut the boot. She thanked the taxi driver again and followed him up the small cracked path. She pulled out a set of keys and unlocked the door.
As Michael walked in, he took in the open hallway. Straight ahead was a staircase and to his left a open doorway leading to the living room. He could see the kitchen straight ahead. He took another step inside and sneezed as dust rose to greet him. The house smelt old and disused. Nearly all the walls had peeling wallpaper. The carpet in the living room might've been white once, but the dust had turned it grey. He could see bulky items of furniture under cloth coverings. He dumped the bags in the hallway and pulled them off, careful not to breath in too deeply as more particles went flying through the air. The furniture was sparse and simplistic, but definitely an improvement on some of the stuff they'd had. The sofa wasn't sinking and the coffee table had no scratches. None of the dinging tables legs were wobbly either.
“How much did this place cost?” Michael asked, figuring it had to be pretty high on the rent scale. They were both in the kitchen unpacking what they had into the cupboards.
“Nothing,” mum replied as she unwrapped newspaper from one of their plates. Michael starred at her, waiting for more than that. She let out a small sigh, a small smile quirking her lips. “This was left to me by your grandmother,” she explained, shrugging. “It was going to be the last resort if he found us again.” Michael looked at the white and grey tiling of the kitchen, realising this wasn't just another place to his mum. It was the house she'd grown up in. A house she'd had for all these years, but never returned too. What reason did she have for avoiding this place, so much so that it was a last resort?
He went upstairs and took in the three bedrooms. The third of which was a box room that would probably be used for storage. He picked the smaller of the other two and placed his stuff on the bed. There was meant to be bed linen in the storage cupboard next to the bathroom, but he had a good feeling it'd all need a wash before they could use it. He walked over to the window, leaning his crossed arms onto the sill and looking outside. He had a good view of the trees here and could even see a distant sparkle that had to be the lake. It was with a resolute sigh that he turned around and unpacked. Repeating something he'd done countless times. Only now there a new emotion he'd never felt before.
This town wasn't anything special, heck it was a little weird based on the people he'd met, but this town might also be the place they finally stay in. The idea was a strange one, he couldn't decide how he felt about it. He was used to never bothering to meet others at school. Did he have to actually socialise this time round? It had been so long since he'd made a friend, he doubted he remembered how. Based on the first person he'd met, not everyone his age was especially friendly around here.
“Michael!” He left his room and leaned on the banister, glancing down at his mum.
“Yeah?” he asked, wondering what other odd job she had for him.
“I'm going to the shops, you want to come with?” she asked. Michael shook his head, muttering a quiet 'nah'. “Okay. Remember you're getting up early tomorrow for school,” she said as she headed towards the door. Michael blinked and rushed down the stairs.
“Already?” he asked, surprised. He thought he'd get a week of being lazy before starting next Monday.
“People in this town remember me, so yes. We just need to turn up a bit earlier and do the registration there and then. You'll start on a Tuesday but that doesn't really matter,” she explained, smiling. Michael had never seen her so at ease in his life, it was a little unsettling. When she left Michael starred around the empty house silently.