Yet no one is coming to open the door for her. This is weird. Brayden should be home by now. Blair still remembers her brother's number one rule; never stay later than 5 PM at work, especially in a cold winter like this. Has he changed it now? Or maybe he's not working in his garage anymore.
The rumbling sound from the sky breaks her train of thoughts. She looks up and sees the lightning blink rapidly behind the dark clouds. A chill wind blows, making the tail of her coat dance frantically in the air. She needs to get inside soon or she will be drenched from the pouring rain at any minute.
She punches the bell button once again. When she thinks she hears a footstep coming from the other side of the door, she quickly grabs her trunks which the taxi driver has arranged neatly next to the porch steps. Her hands tremble but she convinces herself that everything will be fine. This house doesn't affect her anymore. She will not allow it.
The sound of footstep has gone and she is still standing there waiting. Minutes go by, the door remains closed, staring back at her in a mockery manner.
"Brayden? Are you there? It's me, Blair!" she announces her arrival, but it's only answered by stillness from the other side. A drop of water hits her forehead, urging her to look up again. "Oh, Pete's sake!"
She drops her trunks back to the ground and starts pounding on the door. "Brayden! Open up the door, please. It's starting to rain..."
Blair's voice falters as she notices the door move slightly. She frowns before hesitantly pushes the door further, creating a creaking sound as it swings open. A dark entrance hall and wooden staircase come into view but Brayden is nowhere to be seen.
"Brayden?" Blair calls again as she drags her trunks inside. She closes the door once she manages to turn on the light. The hall is eerily the same as she remembers. The mint wallpaper looks rather brownish now, though the grey floral pattern is still as clear as when she and her family moved into this house. A shiver runs down her spine. It's unsettling. How can things stay the same for decades and the effect is still as strong?
Noticing the absence of light in the living room and dining room, she makes her way upstairs. But it's dark everywhere on the second floor, too. Brayden must not be home. He hates darkness. He even sleeps with a dim-light on every night. Has he maybe changed now?
Blair stands in front of her brother's bedroom door. Holding her breath, she knocks softly. "Are you there, Brayden?"
Convinced that her brother is really not home, she walks away and heads back to the staircase. Her footstep is put to a halt when the corner of her eyes catches the green door with red heart painting on the other end of the hallway. Her heart beats faster as the memory flashes through her mind. So much has happened behind that door. She still remembers the mixed feelings she carried every time she saw that door. Longing and daunting merged into one emotion and she couldn't see where the line was.
She forces herself to look away and with shaking feet she steps down the stairs. For some reason, the temperature in the house feels two times colder than when she was standing outside. She scrunches her nose once an unpleasant smell evades her nostrils. The odor is more prominent as she walks closer to the kitchen. Her hand roams over the wall by the kitchen entrance door and once she pushes the switch, the light swallows the blackness in one blink of an eye. After sweeping the kitchen with her eyes, her gaze falls into the crammed trash bin under the sink.
Sighing, she strides to the source of disgusting odor while biting her lower lip, holding back the urge to vomit. With rubber gloves on, she quickly picks up the trash that is scattered on the floor and puts it in the bin before tying up the garbage bag.
"Sweet Mary mother of God!" Blair shrieks in horror, feeling her heart jump out of her chest. After she registers what has just happened, she slowly spins around to see where the noise comes from.
The back door swings back and forth as the wind pushes its way into the house, causing the worn-out cream valance on the kitchen window to sway fiercely. Blair takes a deep breath after learning it's just the wind. Brayden must have left the house in a rush that he forgot to lock the doors. With the trash bag in her hand, she makes her way out of the kitchen door.
The back porch is full of furniture that she can't remember having in the house before. She makes a mental note to ask Brayden later about it as she walks to the backyard. Judging from how tall the grass is, Brayden must've not done any gardening work for some time. He is probably too occupied with his work. After she manages to throw the trash into the big bin sitting next to the back gate, she saunters back to the porch. It's when her eyes catch a glimpse of someone lying on a reclining chair, covered with a blanket.
"Brayden?" she calls hesitantly as she approaches the person. She's almost sure that the chair wasn't there when she walked out of the kitchen, but now she's not sure anymore.