Breakfast was done and I was bored. Mom and my little brother were still asleep. Dad had gone to the lab.
"I'll only be an hour or so," he had said.
There was nothing to do in the house. It was furnished. I think that's the word. But with borrowed furniture. And a TV with channels that I didn't know. I didn't like TV really anyway. I wondered if anyone would care if I went exploring. It was better than sitting around this strange house. I wrote a note to my mom on the back of my boarding pass and left it on the kitchen counter.
Outside the air was hot and heavy. It felt like rain was sitting in the grey clouds waiting for the perfect moment to soak me. The street was a row of identical, symmetrical, duplexes. Two stories with a bay window on the second floor. They were covered with tiny pinkish tiles. I tried to see if I could go get one off, but it was stuck on pretty tight.
To the left there were more streets and houses and a fence. To the right, a large concrete wall with barbed wire at the top. And maybe an alarm system. At least, I thought it was an alarm system. There were boxes and wires.
I went left. Up to the fence. I put my eye to the chain link. Maybe I could see what was on the other side. More houses. But real houses this time, not duplexes. Buckets of paint sat on a truck in one driveway. Dad had said this compound was new. Maybe they hadn't finished all the houses yet.
To my right was another big wall. There sure were a lot of walls. So I went left. Down one street and the another. All the houses looked exactly the same. It was a little creepy. At one point I passed a guard station. The two guards came out and waved at me. They were dark brown with short, cropped hair and green uniforms. The uniforms had long sleeves. They must have been so hot. I hoped their little booth was air conditioned.
It didn't take me very long to go around the whole place. Maybe half of it was still under construction. I was walking back to our new house, zigzagging through each of the streets when I saw a woman come out of one of the houses.
"Hi," she said, "you must be new. I'm Mrs. Bauer."
"I'm Samira," I said. "We just moved here."
"Would you like to come in and meet my daughter?" she asked. "She's about your age."
"Sure." I replied. I didn't think Mom would mind if I stayed out a little longer.