The houses were all empty; any occupants that they may have had did not answer the woman’s knocks and no vehicle remained on the cul-de-sac that had once been known as Appleberry Place. What struck the man and the woman has especially disheartening was that the houses were new – they had hardly been inhabited for a decade. Some of the houses at the end of the street had not even been completed – and now they would never be finished, but forever remain a shell until they rotted away. The woman was confronted with the image of stillborn babies, but then brightened at the thought of letting at least one of the houses fulfill its purpose.
“Do you think these unfinished houses are safe?”
“Depends if they were connected to anything, I guess, or how finished they are.”
“This one says it is a show-home. Look in the windows!”
The house was only lacking its furnishings, but otherwise appeared to be inhabitable. Unfortunately, the doors and windows were unbreakable. The pair eventually found themselves camping for the night in the backyard gazebo of one of the neighbouring houses. Whoever had abandoned the house had left the yard untouched, and all of their furnishings remained as they had left them. A box with extra blankets and cushions was readily unlocked and the man regretted having nothing to cook on the barbecue. The woman set them each a bed up on either side of the gazebo, bringing the wagon inside it with them. It was determined that the small building could withstand wild animals, so it was with relief that they did not have to secure their food supplies outdoors.
“I wish we could stay here,” the woman whispered as they lay amid their blankets. “Or at least, I wish we could find such cozy places every night.”
“It’s going to be a long walk to the coast, that’s for sure,” the man countered, trying not to actually contemplate how arduous it was going to be. “I do wish we had a better map.”
“Let’s make that our mission, then,” the woman suggested. “If we take things one day at a time, we just might make it to the coast without getting our heads blown off or starving to death or…”
“I’m not panicking.” The woman hugged her knees to keep from hyperventilating. “I’m thinking about finding a map.”
“Maybe you should recite your prayers again.” The man would never admit to her that he was comforted by her praying. “I’m always surprised at how peaceful you sound, and then only to start worrying again once you get into bed.”
“It’s a struggle. You’ll get used to it.” But the woman began the Our Father again.