Their new house was only a short ways out of Appleton itself, but the dirt road was muddy and potholed, so it took longer to reach than it should have.
The term 'new house' was a bit of a stretch. While it wasn't nearly as ragged and bent-in as many of the other structures Marie had seen, it was definitely worn.
It looked like it had originally been white, but the paint was weathered and eroded, making it seem more grey than anything. Grey like the sky and the rain and everything else here in the Orchard. The windows were square and dark, staring out from the anterior wall like empty eye sockets in a rectangular skull, the porch its gaping mouth.
Marie did not like it.
It looked cold.
She decided she would rather stay in the car and wait until her parents realized their mistake. Sooner or later they would. Then they could drive back home and resume their normal, happy lives.
"It's beautiful," exclaimed her mother, opening her door and stepping out into the mud.
This was not a promising sign.
"Come on, Marie," her father requested. "You can choose your own room."
She did not want to have a room. Not in that place. She just wanted to go home.
"Come on," he repeated. "And take the baby, will you?"
She made a show of unbuckling her seat belt and lifting baby Sylvester out of his rear-facing car-seat, but her parents were no longer paying attention, so she gave up on the theatrics and followed them inside.