It started like any other morning in the Watkins household, tired, cranky, loud, and smelling of oatmeal and coffee. No one complained, things were that way, and the family was comfortable with that.


7AM rings, and the children were to be out of bed, brushing teeth, taking showers, you know, things that all teenagers do. Complain, yawn, fight over clothing, leaving good mother exhausted before the day began, and father oblivious to the chaos. As it was said, like any other morning!


18-year-old Rory hits the snooze button 3 times.


15-year-old Shane rose right away to get first dibs on the shower.


40-year-old Carly, a.k.a. Mom, was up roughly a half an hour earlier.


42-year-old Simon, a.k.a. Dad, still sat on his bed, picking at his toes.


Breakfast was already served on the table, complemented by freshly brewed coffee, and a pitcher of orange juice, which was most often forgotten. A crisp and clean breeze blew in from the kitchen window, spring has sprung, and soon the birds would be returning to their suburbanite neighbourhood not a moment too soon.


In a blurred rush, the kids took their place, arguing all the way about trivial things that set their sibling blood to boil. Topics such as boys, girls, and movies were spat rudely, mother to sigh, and father to spoon his sloppy oatmeal into his mouth carefully while humming a beat-less tune. 


Normal. Totally.


“Aurora Stephanie Watkins, don’t talk to your brother like that” mother would scold.


“But Mo-o-o-o-o-o-om” she would reply with puppy dog eyes to deaf ears and cold shoulder.


“Sucker” Shane mumbled under his breath.


“Shane Steven Watkins, same to you! Can’t we have one quiet morning? Honey, would you back me up here?” she pleads to her husband.


“Huh?” was always his reply.


Every morning, it was the same, until the school bus came to pick up the teenagers. Some days they were late, and some they were early, some had Rory drive to school with her younger brother as a passenger, and others by herself. Small changes, nothing extravagant, nothing super, but a simple life led by simple people.


School was no different, either. Day in, day out, classes here, there, and everywhere, the two spent their days as any other their age.


Rory had a crush on her lab partner named Vaughn with whom she spent most of her free time, regardless of the fact he already had a girlfriend. This pleased her to no end.


Details were rather unimportant to the young lady; time ran like a never-ending river filled with deep and shallow spots, but all a river just the same. She held vigilance over her dull life like security staff at a rock concert, unmoving, yet watching everything.




Sleep crusts that gathered in her eyes were smoothened away as she glared toward her silent alarm clock. 7:15AM it read.


“Mom?” she shouted curiously. “You let me sleep in!”


Pulling a pair of faded jeans onto her sleep sated legs, her thoughts garbled randomly in her head, mainly in confusion. So silent were the walls of her home. There were smells of freshly brewed coffee, and oatmeal, therefore all was good… good but quiet.


“Shane, you dolt, what did you do to my brush?!” Rory shouted into the hallway with hairbrush in hand, which was immaculately clean. Not a single hair between the teeth, not a speck of dust, and not a scratch on the base was visible with the naked eye. It appeared as though it was bought just moments before. She was sure her younger brother was playing some sort of trick, and she wasn’t about to be a toy for his amusement.


Opening her vanity drawer, she dropped the brush from her hand; every comb, brush, and hair accessory appeared to be brand new. Every single thing in every single drawer emerged spotlessly new, even her mother’s 20-year-old hair dryer. Brand-new. No hairs, no powder, no family scents, and above all, no visual evidence that anyone has ever used the products in the bathroom.


As it turned out, the story was the same for every room! Beds were made like showcase specials, drawers were filled with properly crisp and folded clothing, carpets were vacuumed and no longer thread bare, however it was all set up as if it were for the viewing pleasure of an audience. Like stage props, but not quite so flimsy and unreal. No, her home was reality… although she did look over her shoulder several times in hopes to find a not-so hidden camera.


Her mind in a whirl, she called out for her family throughout the house, her tone changing ever desperately with each cry. No answer, yet there sat a large family sized steaming bowl of oatmeal on the table coupled with freshly brewed coffee and a pitcher of orange juice still cold from the fridge. Settings for four lay out, anticipating them all.