Little Differences

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Mrs. Shiner

Living next door to my parents and I is an old lady named Mrs. Shiner. She must be at least 100 years old. I’m not sure why her name is Mrs. being that she doesn’t have a husband. I’m not sure she has any family at all for that matter. No one ever comes to visit her. At least none that I’ve ever seen. She never speaks to us, she just stares. It kind of creeps me out.

Jess and I walk home from the bus stop and I spot someone sitting on Mrs. Shiner’s porch. As we approach my house, I now recognize the person sitting on Mrs. Shiner’s porch. “Alani, what are you doing over there”, I yell to her from my driveway. Alani, who is on the porch reading what looks like a magazine, pops her head up quickly and looks at me. When she realizes that I’m the one talking to her she quickly drops her head back down. I began to walk over to her, but Jessie stops me. “What are you doing?”, Jessie snaps at me. “I’m going to go talk to her”, I reply. “Now why would you do that?”, Jessie asks me as if I just said something stupid. “Because, there is something going on with Alani and I want to know what it is” “You can go on home and I’ll call you tonight”, I say to Jessie as I start back walking towards Alani. Jessie shakes her head and walks to her home on the other side of Mrs. Shiner’s house.

“What do you want now?”, Alani growls at me. “I’m just wanting to know how you’re doing”, I say politely. “I’m doing fine. Now get lost.”, she says without ever looking at me. My first mind tells me to just walk away from this situation but as usual, I don’t listen. “It’s okay if you don’t want to talk. We can just sit here”, I tell her. After a long moment of silence, Alani finally gives in. “Okay, what do you want to know?”, she says while putting the magazine down next to her on the steps. “I would like to know why you have been leaving school so early,” I ask. “Family problems”, she says and looks down at her hands. I get a feeling that she’s hiding something. “What kind of family problems?” I ask. “Just family problems, okay? It is none of your business really.”, she says in a plain voice.

Okay, so that didn’t go too well. “How do you know Mrs. Shiner?”, I ask without expecting too much of an answer. “She’s my aunt who I barely know. The lady from the police station brought me here”, Alani explains to me. Wow, I can’t believe Mrs. Shiner is related to Alani. Even more so, I can’t believe Alani just spoke two whole sentences to me. That’s the most she has ever said to me without being rude.

Police Station? So, the police did pick her up. “I’m sorry to hear that”, I reply. I want to ask her for more information but I’m afraid that I will be asking for too much. So, I simply say, “Is there anything I can do to help?” “No, no one can help me. This is just how things are”, Alani says with a sad look on her face. Before I can ask her to explain what she means by that, mom comes outside and calls me in to do my homework.

Speaking with Alani gave me a good feeling. Maybe she and I can be friends after all. I’m not sure how long Alani is going to be nice to me, but I am going to enjoy it for as long as she does. “She’s really not that bad”, I think to myself.

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