The contrast is too marked to ignore. This is not what I had expected. This town is nothing like the one I had left behind only an hour before. It is more compact than I had been led to believe, reminiscent of a deserted large village. The houses line up the dusty streets haphazardly. Mostly detached, the uneven sizes and shapes of the buildings, the never ending bricks, the sulky trees with leaves that look more brown than green overwhelm me. The deformed pavements line the asphalt road that reminds me of a faded old grey runner patterned with cracks and potholes. Alarmed at the jumps and bumps of the car, I slow down and drive with more care than usual. A ginger cat watches me with widened eyes as she lifts her sleepy head off the stoned wall that separates an unusually well looked after garden from the passers by. I search for my sunglasses on the dashboard as the sun rays blind me briefly. The weather is hot, hotter than one would expect. It is early spring after all.
I drive for what seems to be ages. The clock on the dashboard signals that it has been just five minutes or so. I am not convinced although I am aware that the concept of time is not to be disputed. Everything is relative I mutter to myself. The house I am looking for is nowhere to be seen. There are no house numbers. All I have to go with is the scatty directions that I have been given. I know that the house is a single story one dwarfed by taller buildings on either side. ‘It is the only single story house on the street’ was the description that seemed sufficient enough when it was given. Maybe it was. After all how hard could it be to find a house that differed so profoundly from the rest.
Here it is. I have found it. I feel relieved at finding it yet the state of the house shocks me to the core. It has sadness written all over it. The blue shutters so evidently in need of a paint-over are closed. A yellowing seasonal wreath decorates the heavy set main door. The small garden in front of the house is equally unkempt. I park the car. It now sits at a slight angle partially settled on the pavement.The eeriness of the surroundings is broken by a speeding car that passes leaving a trail of dust cloud and the shrinks of a couple of what appear to be stray dogs. I change my mind about getting out of the car. Better wait for the dust to settle down and the dogs to continue their journey along the road ahead.
Few minutes pass. I grab my handbag and accidentally press the button on the car radio as I attempt to get out of the car. A deafening sound fills the car spilling outside. I panic. I had meant to arrive unnoticed. The loud music has ended but that only means that I can now hear my own heart beating loudly. My calmness is no more.
As I get out of the car I see that the door of the small house is ajar. As I walk towards it I see it open fully.
The time has come….