The drive home is pretty quiet. We didn’t have the radio on and dad is focused on the road, his stare a million miles away. I munch on my deliciously salty fries as I watch the trees go by outside my window. I’m relieved my dad is distracted because now I can take a break from hiding my emotions from everyone today. I’m exhausted. I normally don’t have to hide so much from everyone around me, I can be pretty open with anyone about how I’m feeling since my life has been pretty relaxed lately, and I don’t care too much about the on goings of my “peers” at school. I don’t care about much so I don’t feel much besides disinterest or indifference. Now, I can finally let go and work through the emotions that have been thrown at me. It was almost relaxing.
Dad pulls into the drive way and I notice a moving truck in the driveway of the neighbors across the road. I was confused and sad. I remember talking to the couple that lived there; they talked about getting a divorce and going their separate ways, but I hadn’t expected them to leave so soon. They used to babysit me when I was young so I got to know them pretty well. They were a second set of parents for me. Seeing that someone else had invaded that space that held so many memories for me made my stomach churn. I feel like my whole preteen years have been turned upside down today and I can’t get a grip on it.
“Dad, when did we get new neighbors?” I say, pointing across the street.
“Hm? Oh…that truck was there this morning. I’m surprised you didn’t see it on our way out the door.” He says, already out of the car and on his way up the driveway. I open my door and stand, grabbing my backpack and uneaten dinner. I couldn’t help but stare at the moving truck. There was no way I was going to be okay with these strange people. I walked inside the house through the garage, just wanting to get away from today.
The door is on the left side of the wall near the back and opens into the kitchen. We’ve been able to keep it clean, but I can see that changing soon. Dad isn’t around, but I can hear footsteps upstairs. He must be in his office already. The kitchen is connected to the dining room, counters keeping them separate. We have a decent sized pantry that is to my left as I stand in the doorway from the garage, placed underneath the stairway. There is an opening in the wall near the far corner on the left where it opens to the living area. I let out a breath, once again trying to release tension, and make my way to the living room. Unfortunately, I have to go upstairs to get to my bedroom. The front door of our house is right in front of the stairs which are against the wall; on the other side of it is the garage. I make my way through the living room, listening to my dad’s frantic footsteps. It makes me wonder what’s going on in his head.
I climb the stairway, looking up at the bathroom at the top of the stairs. Stepping onto the landing, I pause and look over at the closed door to my right, where my dad’s office is. I can hear him talking to himself, but not what he is saying. I release a breath, hoping to relieve some of the tension that’s built up since I arrived at dad’s work. I turn to my left and walk down the hallway to my bedroom door at the end of the hall on the left, passing the guest bedroom on my way there. My dad’s bedroom is on the right hand side, but he clearly didn’t even set foot in there before hiding. The door is open and the room is spotless, he hadn’t come to drop off his briefcase or suit jacket before barricading himself in his office.
I walk into my room and shut the door behind me before laying my backpack against my book shelf, which is against the wall on my left. To my right, there is a TV against the wall, and on the TV stand my movie collection is showcased; which ranges from Firefly, to Ever After, to Grandma’s Boy, to Harry Potter. There is a window on the opposite wall from my door, and my bed is next to it, my headboard against the far wall. I also have a nightstand between the window and my bed. On the other side is a mostly bare wall besides my small closet; on the right far corner is a dresser, and to the left in the corner are my computer desk and my laptop. Normally I would go straight to my computer and catch up on the latest book blogs, but I can’t get myself to sit down. I need a break from life.
I take my cell phone out of my pocket, toss it onto my bed, and go straight to my window, open it, and take the screen out. I climb out and step out onto a small balcony my dad built for me a few years ago. He knew I like coming out here. He didn’t like me on the roof, but he tried to make me safe while I got some air. I loved that he had built this just for me and I used it every chance I could. It was my place to get away from everything and everyone and release everything. I would lose hours just staring up at the stars and the moon.
I make myself comfortable, leaning back against the house and bending my knees to my chest, my arms wrapping around them. I lower my chin to my arms and close my eyes. I take a deep breath in, hold it, and breathe out. I repeat this five times. By the last exhale, I’m finally able to feel like myself again, even with everything that has gone on today. I swear, this spot is magical sometimes. My body doesn’t feel as tense anymore and my mind is finally at ease and blank. I don’t have to think about anything, I can just be in this moment and take in everything around me in nature. The breeze is cool against my face, I can hear the rustling of the trees from the wind, and the chirping of the crickets letting me know that night is close at hand. It’s almost as if time slows down up here.
I open my eyes to the sun setting on the other side of my new neighbor’s house; the oranges, pinks, and purples mushing together creating a beautiful sight. It was always nice sharing this sight alone, but I kind of wanted to share it with someone too. Not my dad or anything that would be weird…with a guy that was actually interesting and had something in common with me. My mind suddenly had an image of the name “ELI” in big bold letters clouding over all my other thoughts.
My gaze lowers to the house across the street. The lights are still on, but all the blinds are closed except for one of the rooms on the second floor, so I can’t see most of the inside. I don’t normally make a habit of spying on my neighbors but these people had me curious. There is some movement in the one room, though which catches my eye. A topless male with the shirt caught on his head. He looked like he was having issues getting it off.
What did I just look in on?
Being the curious girl that I’ve become lately with the male gender, I can’t get myself to look away. I think there is some drool coming from the side of my mouth, too. I wipe the left side of my mouth with my arm. Yep, definitely a little bit of drool. I think I’m going crazy, I never react like this. I keep looking, staring really, and finally the boy is able to tug the shirt off his head. My jaw drops.
My new neighbor is Eli’s family?! HOLY CRAP! I live right next door to this guy I had super awkward eye contact with today and now I’m fawning over his body? Wow, I’m so screwed. Especially since he likes to change with his window wide open, apparently. Does he know I live next door? Does he realize that his window is open?
Screw it. I’m going over there tomorrow and introducing myself. I’ve never been a coward and I’m not going to start now just because I’m drooling over this guy. New experiences are good, not something to be afraid of or avoid. I’m not going to be those girls in my books who are afraid to go up to a guy just because they like them. I can be cute and girly while taking action, right? Wow, I have no idea what’s attractive to guys.
I sigh, tired of thinking about this. Eli disappeared from my view and turns his bedroom light off. I guess he was going to bed early on a Friday night. I then see a light flicker in his room. Maybe he’s watching a movie or something. He’s just as cool as I am. All I could think about was what it would be like to be in his bedroom with him and watch a movie. I crawl back to my window and carefully climb back into my room. I place the screen carefully back into the frame and shut the window for the night.
I sit on the side of my bed and lay down on my back, picking up my phone from the blanket, legs dangling over the side. I open my flip phone and see that Mara responded to my text from earlier. I guess I was too deep in thought to even hear my phone go off. She responded with her usual “OMG SPILL!” response when she thinks I have some sort of gossip. She should know better by now, but I think she still secretly hopes I’m going to come out of my “shell” and suddenly want to be popular. She is a very sweet person, and a great friend, but definitely has her priorities mixed up, which is probably why we are such good friends in the first place.
I send her a reply text that says “Coffee Sunday? We’ll talk then.” I did want to talk to her about everything, but I had a feeling that I wasn’t done gathering more stuff to tell her. I lay my phone back on my bed and stare at the ceiling. I want to rewind today so that I can change the events. I don’t want my life to get complicated my senior year. I’m almost out of here and can start a new life over in college, I don’t want to set roots and be stuck. I already made peace with this town not being where I’m meant to spend the rest of my life, creating more relationships and attachments are only going to make it more difficult to leave when it comes time to go. Would I even be able to go if everything worked out and I suddenly had an amazing boyfriend to spend my time with? Either way, I would at least have a friend to hang out with instead of bugging Mara all the time. I’m not her only friend so I feel bad taking time away from her having fun with other people.
My phone goes off, notifying me of a text message. I roll onto my side and pick up my phone; Mara has responded. It was a one word response “Duh.” We always had coffee on Sunday morning. It was our time to complain about the week, life, and everything in between. It was our time we would always have, even if we moved away from each other. We would always make sure we had our coffee Sundays.
I hear a phone ring in my dad’s office and the shuffling I heard before stopped. That phone was only used for work purposes when he stayed home during the week. Who the hell was calling him at 9pm on a Friday night? Dad doesn’t even have friends because he’s too busy making sure I’m not getting into trouble. Friday we normally make spaghetti and watch a movie with my homemade cheese popcorn before heading to bed. It was horror night, but now he was too wrapped up in his own world to remember our traditions.