There were two key traits that brought Peter to the abandoned house on that June afternoon: curiosity and distractibility. He had been driving through his old hometown on a visit when something out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. He parked, got out, and stared for a minute, searching for recesses of his mind to remember what about the little grey house on the side of the road had caught his attention. Where was he remembering this house from? Of course! “This house belonged to that strange family”, he thought with a start. He remembered them moving in years ago; there was a girl whose name he had a faint inkling might start with an r (or maybe it was an m) and her parents. Peter resolved to recall everything he could about those who had resided in this house.

The small town Peter once lived in was also defined by two things: knowing everyone else’s business and being upset when it didn’t know someone’s business. No one upset the town more than the family that had lived in this house. They largely kept to themselves and refused to attend any sort of community event or gathering: at school, the daughter isolated herself from most of her peers. They were a secretive bunch, never disclosing much about themselves on the rare occasion they interacted with others. This was unfathomable behavior to members of the tight knit community and soon rumors about them began to spread like wildfire. The community assumed the family’s behavior was a sign that the family was hiding something and soon everyone began speculating on what their secret might be. Peter, curious even back then, constantly chatted with friends and family about the subject. Just as interest in the new family had reached its peak, they moved away. Instead of ending the neighborhood’s curiosity, the family’s sudden withdrawal only confirmed what many had already had suspected. For the following few months, theories about what they had been trying to hide reached new heights, then gradually died down. 

Remembering this only fanned the flames of Peter’s interest in this house. From the poor state it was in, he guessed no one had lived there ever since that odd family had moved. He reasoned that if they really did have some skeletons in their closet, there would be some clue of it left in this old house. Peter approached the door to let himself in but to his dismay the door was defined by one key trait: being locked. Refusing to let a mere lock stop him, Peter went around the exterior of the house and found an open window. He climbed through and proceeded to examine what he guessed had once been the daughter’s room. He scanned the room for anything eye catching yet came up empty; there was nothing particularly out of the ordinary about the room. There was an unmade bed, a poster board with a calendar and some pinned papers, a bookshelf with barren shelves, and a drawer with some loose change. Nothing had peeked Peter’s curiosity thus far but he was not ready to give up just yet; there had to be something that explained that family’s aloofness. 

If this family was defined by anything, Peter couldn’t place his finger on it. He had searched the whole house from top to bottom and found nothing to show for it. The cupboards turned up nothing. The drawers turned up nothing. The kitchen turned up nothing. The master bedroom turned up nothing. The closets turned up nothing. The garage turned up nothing. Just as he was about to give up, he stumbled upon stairs leading to the basement. “Surely there must be something down here,” Peter thought to himself as he descended the stairs. He began to become a bit excited at the prospect of this basement. Could it hold what he was looking for, the answer to the mystery of this household? The basement too turned up nothing. Failure to find anything worth his interest turned Peter’s excitement into frustration.

While he stood in the middle of that dusty basement, he pondered to himself “Is it possible the people that lived here had nothing to hide? Could they really have been just a normal family?” He quickly decided against this notion, determining that the only reasonable explanation is that the family had taken their secret with them when they had left. Peter left the house in a melancholy state and got back in his car to continue his drive. Peter’s disappointment quickly faded when he noticed a park on his left, bringing his vehicle to a halt. Now where was it that he had remembered this park from?

Photo Credit: