Tell me where our time went
And if it was time well spent
Just don’t let me fall asleep
Feeling empty again
The seventeen-hour-long drive from Carson Campbell’s old home to Sandersville was a despairing trip. For an hour, the route went through a rocky area beside a rushing river and Carson and her older sister were thrown around like clothes in a washing machine.
All Carson had was her lunchbox and snoring sister, Candace. She’d left her iPod in her bag in the back and stopping the car to rummage through the luggage was a, “No way, since always,” matter.
For most of the trip, Carson just stared out at what the car passed. They went through old towns with little shops, pubs and corner stores; big cities with buildings that touched the sky, malls as big as airports and lines of smoking cars; deserted beaches with beautiful sand and gleaming sapphire water. But what the car passed most was trees. Lots and lots of the same trees. They stayed on same road for at least half the trip. It didn’t seem to curve or even provide enough space for two cars. Luckily, they didn’t meet a car going the other way.
Carson carefully removed the iPod from Candace’s hand and grinned. Victory was hers.
Carson popped the ear buds in and blasted Candace’s music to full volume. Well, three-quarters. A hundred percent and her ears would be bleeding.
Carson looked at her seventeen-year-old sleeping sister. With golden curls, cobalt blue eyes and a perfect tan, any man would die for her. Candace got her good looks from their mother, Rhea. Rhea was the type of woman you wished was in an advertisement just so you could stare at her without being called a pervert. Rhea and Candace’s faces were almost identical. Perfect nose, naturally long eyelashes, red lips.
But fifteen-year-old Carson? She leaned more towards her dad’s looks. Straight, brown hair and pale skin. Freckles. Dark green eyes.
Their dad, Kit, and their mother, Rhea, were both in the beauty industry. Rhea owned a small business back at their old home called Sleeping Beauty, which sold perfume and make-up, while Kit was a cosmetic surgeon. A very highly paid one.
So it wasn’t that much of a surprise to Carson when Kit had made his daughter let him operate on her short, flat stub of a nose. “Camel humps,” Carson used to call it. Carson now had a perfect nose, but she wanted her old one back. Sure, everyone at school had started to like her more, but she hated it. It was, literally, artificial beauty. And the people at school only liked someone if they were pretty. Not if they were kind or helpful or caring. Because no one at her old school was any of those things.
And now, there she was. Cruising down a what seemed infinite road to Sandersville. Sleeping Beauty had gone out of business and Rhea had learned from some dumb source that the beauty demand was pretty good in Sandersville.
Carson soon fell asleep on her sister, her thoughts washed away by Coldplay’s “Paradise” and the humming noise of the car.
Two hours later, she woke up. Rhea was shaking her vigorously.
“Rhea, Kit,” Carson mumbled, raising herself. “Where are we?” She and her sister called their parents by their first name. “Is there an emergency?”
“We’re in Sandersville, dear. You’ll probably want to see,” Rhea said, retreating back into her seat at the front. “Too bad the snow’s covering everything.”
Candace moaned. She wanted her beauty sleep. Carson, however, did want to see her new home. She got up and sat normally, peering out the window.
Snow covered the ground like a white cloth on a dining table. They drove through the streets slowly. Kids who were scooping up snow and throwing it at each other suddenly stopped and stared as the car went by. Carson thought it was a little bit strange.
The shops and small businesses were cute, but most, if not all, seemed out of business. Perhaps this was just a deader part of town.
The staring continued. Adults watched, too, stuffing their hands in their long winter coats like spies. Their heads turned with the car.
Candace had finally gotten up.
“This place is creepy,” she said, shrinking back into her seat and hiding from the stares. “It feels like we’re trespassing or something. Maybe they’re just very cautious about newcomers… Or something.”
“Yeah,” Carson agreed. “Must be a tight town.”
“Kids, you’ll get used to it,” Kit said. “The people of Sandersville have always been called strange, but I’m sure they have a good reason. Like Candace said, they’re probably just cautious.”
Candace and Carson didn’t say anything. They looked back out the windows, doubting what Kit had said.
Now they were in a part of town more alive. The shops were bigger and more were open. Lots of people roamed the streets, going on with their daily lives. Some sat on the benches, faces buried in newspapers. Others tried to attract customers to their shop by singing a jingle or dancing. But all of them still gave The Stare.
There were a lot of streets purely for houses, as well. But they all looked identical. The houses all were painted white and red tile rooves sat on the houses like hats. The windows were bordered with fancy, dark brown patterns. A pretty simple design for a house.
After a few minutes of cruising in their black Mercedes on the road, which snow had been shovelled off of, the car stopped.
“Okay, kids. Out,” Kit said, opening his door.
Carson grinned from ear to ear, Cheshire cat style. She bundled out of the car, running up to her new house, forgetting the freezing cold. It had two storeys and was a very modern-looking house. The lawn attached to a garden at the side of the house.
Carson knew she was lucky to have her house in a street where the houses were different. All the identical ones looked boring and Carson would never have been able to find her way to her house by herself.
“Welcome to your new home,” Kit grunted, pulling out his huge suitcases from the boot. Carson, Candace and Rhea all pulled out their own.
“Why, thank you,” Candace moaned sarcastically, though why she was being sarcastic no one could tell. It was probably the load of suitcases Candace was under. She regretted packing so much.
Something jingled in Kit’s pocket; the keys. He took them out and unlocked the door, dragging his bags up the two steps like a slave.
Carson burst into the house excitedly. Warm air hit her face. She stopped shivering and pulled her luggage along, exploring the house.
It was the emptiest house ever.
Nothing was in the house but the practical kitchen, the wooden floor and some flower-patterned curtains. A few tables sat in corners, but it was mainly open space. Carson would take advantage of that soon, laying a yoga mat on the floor and reading.
“We’re going to Home Decor on the weekend,” Rhea grinned. “And we’ll turn this house into a home.”
“We’re coming, right?” Candace squealed. Obviously she knew exactly how she wanted to decorate her room. Probably paint it electric blue. Or hide the wall with posters of Candace, her achievements and famous celebrities like Lady Gaga, Justin “Beaver” and Rihanna. Beaver was the name Carson gave Justin.
Candace and Carson raced up the carpeted stairs. Of course, Candace quickly claimed the biggest bedroom for herself. Carson took the smaller one, but it was only smaller by a little bit.
A bed with sheets of Spiderman and a wooden wardrobe were already there. Light flooded in from the window and bathed the room in sunlight. She left her bags in the corner and gazed out her window. The garden below could have passed for a cemetery. Winter had killed the garden, leaving nothing but leafless, skinny trees.
Oh, and there was a pool. Full of leaves and dead insects.
Carson was looking forward to swimming in that.
She hopped into a warm Aéropostale jacket and her winter pants. She also slipped into snow boots.
She went into Candace’s bedroom. Candace was already trying to decorate her room with framed photos of her in Paris, on the beach and at her middle school spring disco. Carson laughed and walked over to her sister.
“We should go and explore town,” Carson suggested hopefully. She desperately wanted to explore but she didn’t want to walk among the creepy stares all by herself. “Since we’re going to live here and everything. You know, we should get the feel of the place.”
“I’ve already got the feel of the town,” Candace said, looking up at Carson. “Creepy Mentally Ill Stalker Town. Perfect name. Wow, I should go into the advertising business. Oh wait, I’m taking over when Rhea gets too old to run our new business. I wonder what it’ll be called…” Candace’s voice trailed away and she stared up at the ceiling thoughtfully.
Carson rolled her eyes. “Candace!” she snapped, bringing her sister back to Earth. “Are we going or not?”
“I don’t know, Carson… I just find this place way too creepy.”
“And I don’t,” Carson said sarcastically, scoffing. “Come on, we’ll get used to this place if we just have a little walk around town.”
Silence from Candace. Then a frustrated look.
“Fine,” Candace gave in. She shooed her sister out the door. Candace quickly changed into warm, bulky clothing – her least favourite attire – and walked downstairs with Carson. Candace had somehow thought that black boots that almost reached her knees were good for walking.
“We’re going outside!” Carson called out.
A faint, “Come back in an hour or less!” could be heard from one of the rooms.
The two sisters stepped onto the path. Snow crunched under their feet. Candace stumbled in her heeled boots.
“I wish the snow would go away,” Candace said, chattering. Her warmest jacket was not nearly warm enough for this temperature. Fog was emitted from the sisters’ mouths.
“Yeah. You’re lucky it’s not actually snowing. But it’s spring tomorrow,” Carson said, already walking along the street. Candace hurried to catch up and they passed a few more blocks of different houses. They then passed a few blocks of the identical ones and came to the shopping and dining area.
Carson looked at the ground but she sensed – no, she knew – that she was being stared at. And it didn’t feel nice.
Don’t you know it’s rude to stare?
They passed shops of all types; coffee shops, clothing shops, small grocery shops, hairdressers, toy shops and phone shops. Shop owners who had been begging passers-by to enter their shops simply stood still and stared as the sisters walked by.
“Way creepy,” Carson said under breath.
“Tell me something I don’t know,” Candace whispered back.
They walked in silence, hand stuffed into their jackets. Then, Carson spotted something up ahead.
“River. Path. No people. Twelve o’clock.”
Only a portion of the river could be seen through two buildings. They rushed towards that little gap in the buildings and stepped onto a beautiful path by a glinting river. It would have been so beautiful in the spring.
They walked along for a few minutes.
“Wow. The people are even creepier outside of a car window,” Candace said, shaking her head.
“I wish Rhea had found a different place with good demand in beauty,” Carson sighed, tying up her hair in a messy bun.
“Yeah, where would that be? Rhea only looked for places in South Carolina. It’s the only state she loves apart from old California. Can you believe how much the people in this state take beauty for granted?” Candace said, disgraced.
Carson pressed her lips together. She didn’t take beauty for granted. She simply didn’t have the time or care factor to “beautize,” as Rhea called it. Her family always pressured her to go a step further on beauty.
“Yeah. It’s weird,” Carson said, not at all believing what she said.
“Oh, look!” Candace squealed, pointing ahead. Carson looked up to see a carousel.
“Horsey time!” Candace squeaked.
Author’s Note: I know, I know. You’re disgraced that I’m, yet again, restarting SG. Take me off this blog if I restart again. I swear. And, uh, sorry I’ve been quiet lately. I’ve prodded four different version of the new SG. This one seemed best, so I just made it longer and everything…
And, ah, yes, an ending totally leaving you hanging off the edge of the seat. I apologise for such a boring ending. I commit to making these chappies around 2000, and I hit 2070, so I stopped writing.
The song is Pressure by Paramore. Not that good, sure, but those were the lyrics I heard when typing. So yeah. 😀