The blizzard had blinded us for so many miles, I felt, that night, as though I were in a dark frozen dream. We were all exhausted from the stress and strain of moving. Everyone in the family had helped load furniture and boxes onto the borrowed farm truck and our old run-down Studebaker.
It was impossible to judge the conditions of these narrow country roads. Not daring to stop anywhere, we just kept going. My mother sat hunched, with fingers tightly clutched, over the steering wheel, peering vainly through the frosted windshield. She stuck her head out the window as often as I did to make sure she didn’t drive into a ditch.
Roger sat upright between us on the front seat drowsing lightly. At the age of eight he was no longer little enough to curl up to sleep. His long legs were splayed over the driveshaft-hump on the floor. Wendy, still a little butterball at six and a half was asleep on the floor, between the pots and pans and the bump. Her face rested on Roger’s knees. They reminded me of two played out puppies curled together, oblivious to the cold.
When we finally arrived at our new house, I wasn’t disappointed. My excitement grew when I saw, what appeared to me, a mansion rising out of the wild countryside. Adrenaline pumped my curiosity to explore. The snow had stopped blowing. It was just lightly floating down in clumps.
“We made it!” my mother breathed triumphantly. I could clearly see relief erasing the tension from her face.
“Hurray!” the kids yelled.
“I thought you guys were asleep.” I moaned.
“They should be!” admonished my mother. Then, turning to me, she said, “Take them upstairs and get them to bed. And...” she added, “you, go to bed, yourself.”
“Aww, Mom!” I whined. “Can’t I just look around a little bit, first?”
“It’s past midnight; please do what I asked.” She grabbed up the noise making box to haul off to the kitchen. “Besides, if you have so much energy, you can stay up and help unload!”
I didn’t need a second warning. “Okay, I’ll go to bed.” I conceded. “Come on, you two, let’s go find someplace to sleep.”
“I can put my own self to bed.” Roger muttered.
Entering a large hall leading to the staircase, the three of us “oohed and aahhed” at the beautiful woodwork of stairs and banister.
“This is rich people’s house’” my awestricken little sister cooed.
“Yeah.” Echoed Roger as we climbed the two flights to the next floor. We wanted so badly to explore our new home, but exhaustion overtook us. My father and old brother had leaned the mattresses against the wall, and had already left to go get another load. Roger claimed the room the mattresses were in and pushed the first one to the floor, grabbed a blanket from the box nearby. Wendy and I struggled with another mattress yanking, pulling, pushing and sliding it down the large hall to another room. Little did we know how cold that room would be. We slept in our winter coats with a blanket pulled tightly around us,
I laid awake staring at the bare windows as the frost turned to ice. It wasn't until the next day when my father pointed out that the radiator was turned off. If only we had known!