Dad shuts the door behind the two policemen and move to the window to watch them pull away from the house. He rubs the back of his neck with his right hand before turning back to me. “What do you say we have chili tonight for dinner? Your favorite!”
“Yeah, that sounds good dad,” I say, nodding and looking down at my now cold breakfast. I use my fork to push my soggy eggs around my plate. Dad goes from the window into the kitchen. I hear cupboards opening and shutting. He reappears in the archway between the dining room and living room, looking at me.
“I don’t seem to have everything I need. Are you going to be okay if I take a quick trip to the grocery store?” I nod, a little nervous but not wanting my fears to keep me from moving on and living my life. I’m not going to be one of those people who go through life being afraid of everything because of one incident. “Okay, I’ll go upstairs and grab your cell phone then so you can call me if you need anything.”
He takes the stairs two at a time to go to my room, only hesitating a moment before coming back down. The doorbell rings as he’s halfway down the stairs, startling both of us; we both stare at the door with puzzled looks on our faces. I look up at my dad; I break the silence while the newcomer waits on the other side of the door.
“Do you want me to get up and get the door, dad?”
“Oh, no…” He responds, shaking his head. “No, I got it you just sit there and relax. I just have no idea who it could be.” He descends the last stairs, tossing my phone on the couch next to me, and opens the door wide enough for me to see who it is. Eli. “Hi there, what can I do for you? You’re that kid from across the street, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, hi, I’m Eli,” he says to my dad, he quickly glances at me before going back to my dad. It was really quick, I don’t think he meant for me to see him look at me, but I did. I think I’m staring, but all I can think about is how I hope my face isn’t super red from blushing, and how he’s AT MY HOUSE.
Yeah, I’m definitely staring at him. He’s wearing an under armor shirt which clings to his thin body, and khaki shorts. I can see every muscle on his body and I wouldn’t be surprised if I was drooling. I placed my hand on my chin but thankfully found none.
“Hi, Eli, welcome to the neighborhood. I’m Don Walker,” dad says to him. “You’re the one who called the cops for us last night, right? Thanks for that, you probably saved my daughter’s life.” He opens the door wider so he can give Eli a better view of me from the door, almost pointing at me. Thanks dad…that’s not embarrassing at all. “She’s Nora. I think you two go to school together.”
“Uh, yeah, we do. I think we have a couple classes together, even,” he responds. Why are they talking? Why is Eli at my house??
“Oh, isn’t that cool, Nora?” Dad looks at me with a smile on his face. I’m pretty sure I have a ‘deer in the headlights’ look on my face. I make sure my mouth is shut and nod to my dad, avoiding eye contact with Eli. I’m in my pajamas which means I’m not wearing a bra, I haven’t showered yet, and he can see my dorky Super Mario blanket. I think I’m going to die from embarrassment. “I’m just heading out quick, why don’t you come inside and keep Nora company for me while I’m out? I don’t like the idea of her being alone after last night.”
“Sure, Mr. Walker,” Eli says. I’m pretty sure I lost all color in my face at that point. “I came over to see how she was doing anyway; I saw the police stop by again.”
“Great!” Dad beams at him as if he just found the piece he was missing to win a tough case. I can’t believe dad trusts a kid he doesn’t even know to be home alone with me; a teenage boy to be home alone with his vulnerable daughter. I think I know who is not going to have a chance at the dad of the year award this year.
He steps aside for Eli to walk inside before shutting the door behind him. Eli stands on the landing looking at me with a look on his face I can’t decipher. The room is silent besides the TV still playing Supernatural reruns. The air is heavy with something; not awkwardness, not tension, but something I can’t put my finger on. There’s almost static in the air from the connection that was created between us at school yesterday. I manage to break the silence between us with small talk.
“Would you like something to drink?” I say, mentally slapping myself for not thinking of something more smooth to say.
“Nah, I’m okay right now, but thanks,” he says coolly. He doesn’t seem fazed at all by the connection. He seems calm and confident and relaxed just to be in the same room as me; how is that possible? “Is it okay if I sit down? I love Supernatural.”
“Uh, yeah, go for it.” I say. I’m normally very clever and witty, why am I having such a hard time with words around him… “You’re a Supernatural fan?”
“Yeah, I’ve been following it from the pilot. Team Dean all the way. It’s one of my favorite shows. I’ve always enjoyed paranormal stuff. I look like this big jock, but I’m just a closet nerd. I love music and nerdy shows and movies.”
“Me too. I love Ghost Hunters and Paranormal Activity and Saw. I’m behind on Supernatural though. I haven’t seen season nine yet, and season 10 is going to air in a couple of weeks. I’m a little bummed about that.” I curl up on the couch, knees against my chest, feeling slightly vulnerable. I have my blanket up to my armpits trying to cover the fact I’m still in my pajamas. Besides that, I think I’ve found the man I’m going to marry. I can’t believe he’s a Supernatural fan!
“Really? I actually bought it about a week ago before we moved here. I can lend it to you if you want.”
“That would be cool. I wouldn’t mind having a season marathon actually, if you wanted to join me.” I am not usually that forward, but something pushed me to ask. I want to spend more time with Eli and that seemed like the perfect opportunity. My response threw him off kilter a bit, he takes a moment before speaking again.
“Sure, I don’t have anything going on.” He smiles, but it looks like he’s trying to hide it by focusing on the TV. We sit in silence for a couple of moments while we actually take the time to see what’s going on in the show. Sam was saving Dean and an innocent girl from a scarecrow god or something. I wanted to make conversation so that it didn’t seem awkward between us, but it didn’t really seem necessary. It was comfortable and it almost seemed normal, natural just sitting in the same room with him and watching TV. Now if only he was sitting here on the couch with his arms around me, then this picture would be perfect. I have a nagging feeling in my gut that tells me that is where he needs to be.
“Oh, right…” Eli says out of nowhere. I’m so focused on my thoughts that it makes me jump. Hopefully he didn’t notice. He digs in his khaki pockets and pulls out a burned CD and hands it to me. “I’m not very good at gifts, but I wanted to give you something that might help you feel better. Music is kind of my thing so I thought I would make you a mix.”
I was still too anxious to grab for the CD, but he sets it down on the coffee table in between us. He doesn’t seem upset by me not taking it from him. It’s almost as if he knows how I’m going to act, knows what I’m going to do before I do it. I’ve never been given a CD of songs before, not even from a girl-friend. Isn’t that big when a guy you like gives you a mix CD of songs to listen to? Or am I just being paranoid and reading into it too much? Music is a popular thing, friends give each other music all the time, calm down Nora…
“Thanks Eli, that was very thoughtful of you. I can’t wait to listen to it.” I respond. “What kind of music are you into?”
“I like basically everything except for rap. Anything that I can sing to I enjoy.”
“That’s awesome. So you’re an expert then?”
“Haha, nah I don’t think I would call myself an expert, but I do love music and everything about it.” His laugh makes the butterflies in my stomach flutter. His laugh is infectious and I find myself loving the sound, wanting to hear him laugh more. “My spare time revolves around it. I live and breathe music. I’ve had this feeling lately, though that there’s more to life that I’m missing out on. Which is strange since you can feel everything, every emotion, in music, and yet something is missing, you know?”
“Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.” And I did. He just explained to me what I’ve been feeling since mom died. It’s a hole that has started to patch up since Eli and I first had that staring match in Choir yesterday. It also made me wonder why he was so willing to open up and give a piece of himself to someone he barely knew. Maybe he feels the connection, too. I’m starting to feel giddy, I want to jump-start whatever this is and see where it takes me, I just have no idea how to go about it.
“If there is anything I can do to help you out, you know where to find me,” I say with a chuckle. Living across the street from each other might come in handy. “I don’t have a lot of friends at school and I’ve been looking for some new hobbies to get me out of the house, so my schedule is pretty free.”
He looks at me before responding. His deep green eyes look into mine as if seeing exactly who I am. He’s searching for something in my eyes, but I’m not sure what. He looks longingly into mine, and I can see sadness in his.
“That would be great.” He says finally. He’s smiling at me. It looks as if he’s found what he’s been looking for; I can see it in his gaze. We have another moment like in choir and we just lose ourselves in each other’s eyes, neither one of us looking away. He smiles at me, looking deep into my eyes, penetrating my being, and I’m anxious but locked into his gaze. I lose track of the goings on around us; I can’t hear the TV or the episode that is currently playing. I want him to lean over and kiss me but I can’t get the words out – my uneasiness of how quickly this is all happening keeps my mouth shut tight.