Jennifer glared at the taxi meter and tried to make it slow down. But
it just kept right on ticking: ...$8.75...$8.95...$9.15
"This"ll cost us a fortune!" she thought and she wondered
how much money her mother still had left. The train trip to Toronto had
been much more expensive than they'd thought. The things that they'd brought
to eat had hardly even lasted half-way, and they'd been forced to buy a
number of meals on the train. The prices had been fantastic. Jennifer hoped
they hadn't spent too much.
She wondered what would happen if they didn't have enough to pay the
fare. The driver was very fat. He sat in the driver's seat like a large
inflatable balloon, his belly just barely held back by the steering wheel.
He whistled a song between two big front teeth, steering the cab with one
pudgy hand while he scratched himself with the other. His teeth were brown
with coffee and nicotine stains. His shirt was wrinkled and dirty. All things
considered he didn't look that nice at all.
"43 Foxdale Drive!" he called out as he pulled the cab over
to the curb. Jennifer looked at the meter. The fare came to $12.55. "What's
the matter?" asked the driver suspiciously as Jennifer's mother began
to rummage through her purse.
"Don't worry, she's got the money," Jennifer told him.
The driver snorted in disgust, but Mrs. Jones smiled at her daughter.
"It's all right jenny," she said.
Jennifer got out of the cab. The sun had just set and that strange magic
time between night and day was just beginning. The thin, slow light from
the afterglow slipped silently inside the everyday things of the everyday
world and changed them. Night stirred restlessly in the shadows. Everything
seemed just a little bit odd and slightly unfamiliar.
Jennifer was tired from the long train ride but she was much too excited
to feel sleepy. She looked all around for number 43, but she couldn't see
the house anywhere. She saw 41 and she saw 45, but there didn't seem to
be any 43 on Foxdale Drive, just a large empty space where the address should
be, some bushes, some trees but no trace of a house. Then all of a sudden
she saw it. It was set back from the street on the edge of a heavily wooded
ravine. The trees and bushes that surrounded the house came down around
the front path and all the way out to the sidewalk. It was hard to know
just where the woods left off and the city began. The house seemed to be
as much a part of the ravine as it was a part of the neighborhood. - Jennifer's
mother joined her on the sidewalk and took her hand. They stood there together
looking at the house while the taxi driver dumped out their suitcases and
left. Then Jennifer's mother smiled.
"Nervous?" she asked.
Jennifer nodded her head. "A little," she said. "What
if he doesn't like us?"
"Don't worry," said her mother. "I'm sure he will."
"But what if we don't like him? Do we have to stay?"
"I'm afraid so," said her mother. "We have nowhere else
to go, so we'll have to make do for a while at least."