September 12th, 1996 – a date I try not to remember and long to bury.
On this day we moved (unwillingly) to our new house located in the, clichéd, middle-of-nowhere. However, this wasn’t a move to escape the everyday mundane routine, but rather the contrary. Dad had just signed a contract to take over the village carpentry business and so we were all “persuaded”/forced to move with him so that he would not have such a long commute every morning and late evening.
The house was nice; a quaint old rickety building that was almost derelict – but nice. (I knew this from images I sourced online on the estate agent’s website.) I couldn’t yet decipher what the feeling of actually falling through the dilapidated floorboards would be like. That aside, I reluctantly tagged along in the back right hand side seat of our claustrophobic, oxygen-extracted car as we made the 18-mile round journey to our new construction site. Mom and dad were ecstatic to be moving. They “needed a change of scenery” and in all fairness, the village did look very welcoming, it was just our home that sat awkwardly, breaking apart the warmth and convivial feel, a house that the neighbours seemed to avoid and disassociate their village with. Neglected, cold and faded.
How appropriate that this would be our home for the foreseeable future.
The car journey took 1 hour and 37 minutes primarily because of my brother who persisted that he had to stop off at the service station due to his hunger. Once we had all finished inhaling our complimentary ‘moving house’ McDonalds, we returned to the car for the last leg of the journey. By now it was 10:04pm and as we ventured further into the middle-of-nowhere, the streetlights became more irregular resulting in the void of conventional life.
Everything felt hollow.
The condensation echoing the aching of all those trapped trying to escape from the village with a false façade, concealing the haunting truth.
As the car tiredly made its way further into the darkness, we came to a halt. Ben immediately woke up questioning “Is this it?!” only to be shut down by Mom with a sudden “No.” We were inevitably lost in “The Void”. I like using that phrase because it’s applicable to almost everything whether it be a feeling, a place or time and being lost wasn’t ideal at the time of night we were on the road and to add to our ever-growing dilemma, the fact there wasn’t anything around for miles meant that we couldn’t exactly seek help. Dad’s satnav had guided us the whole way but conveniently died meaning not only could we not see where we were going but neither did we know. Dad pulled over into a lay-by as he contemplated our next move. Whenever we suffered a family issue, not matter how big or how little, it was always a moment to remember. We are not the average family who find jokes and humor out of negative times. We’re the type of family who dwell and see little hope. Of course Mom was stressing out, of course Dad was pacing up and down the side of the car, of course Benjamin was on the verge of crying from being scared, of course Ella was panicking alongside mom as girls do and of course, there’s me, stuck in the middle of the entire scenario, trying to think for a second, trying to come up with a groundbreaking idea that would unravel the mystery of how we would get to the bloody new house that I didn’t want to go to anyway! And that’s when I remembered:
Before we moved house, I carried out some research into where we were moving to because I hate being unaware of what is around me. There is something unsettling about being in strange places and there we were, paradoxically stuck in a strange place. I had put together a scrapbook which included a map I printed online of the area which pinpointed all of the local convenience stores, churches, petrol stations, hotels, any place of significance and most importantly, our home, where the protruding permanent marker ‘X’ marked the spot. The area was extremely vast and the detached houses were more than 4 equally sized houses detached apart. I got out of the car onto the silent road and took out my bag that was rammed into the compacted boot. I rummaged until I placed my hand on my scrapbook and immediately walked over to my dad who by which point had his hands and head down on the bonnet - quite similar to the brace position you are instructed to do during an emergency on an aircraft. He was tired. I placed my index finger on the house and figured that we were only circa 15 minutes away from the ruin and so we promptly got back in the car to the remaining hopeful family members. Even though we’d informed them of our good news, Mom was still frantically trying to attain mobile phone signal on her appalling excuse of technology that came in the form of a Nokia 3210. Dad turned on the engine that is normally silent but seemed to roar in the void. The high beams floodlit the road and all that could be seen for over a mile in front of us was trees, blind spots and a windy narrow country lane. I observed Mom in the wing mirror still wide-awake but with her eyes closed. She had this deal where if she didn’t like something, she wouldn’t look. My ideology is that if you dislike something, you don’t look away but you stare because we have nothing to be scared of and that we should fear no evil. Although, this was only an average car journey for us Campbell’s so I didn’t feel it necessary to comment.
The beams began to flicker as we continued moving forward following the road dad and I had outlined on my map.
My eyes were feeling heavy just as we pulled into the driveway of the new house. An airlift operation to get all of us tired children out of the car and into the house was in full swing and we left our belongings in the car until the following morning.