Chapter 1-Maria feels as if she's being watched. But by whom?
Maria gazed critically at the house as she stepped out of the car. The house was identical to all the other houses on the block, having white siding and rusty red coloured roof shingles. It looked as if it was actually quite aged, but had recently had extensive repairs, just like all of the others. The front flower garden had been well tended all summer long by the previous owners. So just like the neighbours’, despite the hot late summer day, the flowers were still standing tall in the flower beds. What was even creepier was that all of the flowerbeds were inhabited by pink and blue dahlia flowers, arranged in nearly the same pattern.
Maria didn’t like it, it reminded her of one of those movies where all the people are like robots, doing exactly the same thing and never having any free will.
“We’re home,” her mother announced with relief, basking in the familiarity of her childhood neighbourhood as she joined Maria outside the car.
No, you’re home, Maria thought in annoyance. To her, this was no more than another empty house that could never be her home. Suddenly the gentle breeze picked up, giving Maria a temporary relief from the stifling heat, and bringing with it smells of freshly cut grass. Maria nearly gagged. She couldn’t stand the smell of freshly cut grass. it reminded her of her mother’s ex-second-husband, Will.
Maria had grown up with him as a step-father since she was young, but she never really liked him. Will’s favourite hobby had was to cut the grass while going shirtless and showing off his muscular physique, to which Janice had absolutely no objection, until she realised that he was trying to impress the neighbourhood girls, not her.
Will had also been completely obsessed with his lawn, chastising Maria for the merest imperfection caused by her childhood games. What made it even worse for Maria was that his own daughter would not even get a warning if she was to play on his precious lawn, as if preferring to blame his step-daughter rather than his own flesh and blood.
Gloria flung open the car door on the other side, jumped down and bounded for the front door, but finding it locked she proceeded to check the back-door.
Gloria was technically Maria’s half-sister, but Maria often preferred to ignore this minor technicality. Maria truly considered Gloria to be her genuine sister 9 beside the fact that Gloria thought they were biological sisters). They were sisters bound by childhood together, and no one could take that away.
Her mother sighed and smiled at Gloria’s exuberance. She walked up the slab stone walkway and unlocked the front door. Almost instantly Gloria rushed past her and burst into the previously quiet and peaceful house, the silence now disturbed by the rushed footfalls of her small feet, hurrying up the stairs to claim the best bedroom.
Maria stood in the driveway, debating with herself whether she really wanted to give up her freedom and submit her self to living in this eerie house in this creepy neighbourhood.
She looked at the front door that still stood open, as if to welcome her inside.
Suddenly, Maria felt as if she were being watched by someone nearby. She spun around on her heels only to find that there was no one there. She figured it must have been the neighbours gawking at the newcomers.
“Maria! Aren’t you coming to help unpack?” Gloria called from the doorway, her blonde curls drooping in front of her face from all of her leaping and jumping in excitement.
Maria sighed with regret and conceded that whether it was her home or not, she had no choice but to live here. Maria turned and strolled up the walkway to the house, still feeling as if she was being watched by unseen eyes.