The House on Arendelle Court
There was a house at the end of Arendelle Court that rose above the rest of the houses in the cul-de-sac, set apart and appearing haughty toward its neighbors. It was a Victorian style house that was dark and bleak and needing much tending to but the owners seemed little interested in maintenance. Eventually they sold the house to a young couple.
The couple had the house inspected before the sale and there were no outstanding issues other than a radon alert to which they would pay to have work done that would allow safe passage of the noxious gas away from the structure. On the day of the closing the couple met with the original owners and their realtor to sign the paperwork.
“Did you own the house for very long?” asked Jayne Royalton to one of the owners.
“About five years,” said the man.
“I had the impression it had been in your family for years?”
“Not sure where you got that idea. We bought it at auction.”
“Oh yes,” said the man’s wife. She continued, “We had been looking for some fixer-uppers and had found out about this online. We like to flip houses.”
The young couple looked at the older couple with puzzlement. Clearly the house hadn’t been fixed up and as typically done with that type of investment been resold within a year.
“Well, we ended up buying another house around that period that took a lot of our time…”
“And money,” the woman interrupted with a cheery smile.
The young couple looked and each other and began to wonder if what they were doing was a good idea. They had fallen in love with the home and although quite old, felt they could give it the love and attention it deserved. Charles “Charlie” Royalton was an engineer at a local construction company and Jayne Royalton was a professor of Biology at nearby South-Central State University. Both made a substantial income and thought the house to be a great project that they could either fix up and sell or keep as their own long-term home. Besides the home, the large plot of land the property was built on was close to a large forest and a big field where their children could play. Their children; Jake 16, Mikaela 10 and Zachary 8, would all have a marvelous time exploring the grounds. It was an ideal situation and the couple, although slightly concerned about the home’s history, decided to go with their emotions and buy the home.
“Do you know anything about the previous owners?” Charlie asked.
“No, like we said we bought it at auction. These are typically sales resulting in the previous buyer not being able to keep up with the payments or perhaps because of criminal reasons; selling drugs, not paying their taxes and then having the property seized. It was a quickly advertised auction by the county and there was hardly anyone there so we got a great deal.”
The transaction was quickly completed and the Royalton’s were presented with the keys to the house. They knew they had a lot of work ahead but they felt it would be a good investment once the house was renovated. In the meantime the kids had plenty to explore and explore they did.
The Royalton family moved in the following weekend and although they had the money to pay someone else to do it, Charlie decided he would rent a U-Haul and save the expense. He thought it might also be a way to reconnect with Jake. Jake had become a little isolated from his parents as of late. As most teenagers do, they become a little moody as they transition between child and adult. Jake was no exception and felt he was an adult now and didn’t need his parents butting into his business. Charlie and Jayne attributed his ups and downs to “just being a teenager” and felt it would soon pass. They had tried to be active in his life; getting him involved in boy scouts, guitar and sports. He had taken to soccer at an early age but recently had lost interest and they were searching for something else that might give him some purpose and drive besides school. They had also become concerned with some of the friends he was beginning to hang out with and wished he had better taste in those he associated with. Charlie vowed to Jayne he would work on getting more involved in Jake’s life, much to Jake’s chagrin.
Mikaela and Zachary on the other hand were much less a worry to their parents. The two were inseparable and were seldom spotted outside of each other’s company. Jake isolated himself from his younger siblings so the two just made the best of it and set out on their own adventures together. Although they had friends in school, they couldn’t wait to get home each day, do their homework and then run outside to play together. It was an unusually close relationship for a brother and sister.
The day the Royalton’s moved into the house, Mikaela and Zachary began to run around the yard and the house. They made a half-hearted attempt at helping and were soon out of sight. They had picked out their rooms and moved all of their clothes and toys inside. Once the task was completed they spotted a stairway which piqued their curiosity. They slowly ascended the stairway and came to a door. They played with the handle which seemed very loose and covered with dust. Had their parents examined this part of the house? It looked like it hadn’t been disturbed in years. They wiggled the doorknob slowly to the right and they could hear a click. They then slowly pushed the door open. The opening of the door sent a lot of dust flying into the air, causing the children to quickly cover their nose and mouth. The room was dark but they could see there were two massive ceiling windows that had been covered with what appeared to be wallpaper. The paper was thin enough so that it was able to allow faint sunlight to illuminate the room. There were all kinds of furniture throughout the attic. A lot of it had been covered with sheets. There was dust and cobwebs everywhere. As they walked they could hear the creaking of the floorboards. It was a little spooky, but Mikaela and Zachary liked spooky. Their main goal in life was to find as many adventures as possible. Here was another opportunity. Before they could finish exploring, their mother yelled up to them to come down for lunch. They sighed but complied with their mother’s wishes.
After lunch Charlie asked Jake if he would help him assemble a work bench in the garage in hopes of striking up a conversation.
“So do you think you’ll like the new neighborhood?” Charlie asked, hoping for any kind of audible reply.
“Looks okay I guess.”
“Once we’re all settled in how ’bout we sign you up for soccer again?”
“Nah, I’m tired of soccer.”
“How about guitar?”
Charlie pulled Jake aside and lowered his voice.
“Jake, I know you’re going through some things right now but I really want you to know that you can talk to me…about anything. Whatever’s on your mind I want you to be able to come to me and talk. Sex…girls…whatever you want to talk about I want you to know I am here for you.”
Jake raised his eyebrow at the thought of speaking to his dad about anything like sex. He wasn’t opposed to the idea but was just not feeling comfortable about opening up at that moment. He nodded to his father and gave a faint smile. His dad then patted him on the shoulder hoping that his son would know how much he wanted to connect with him. For now their little conversation would have to suffice.
After the Royaltons had settled into their home, life was slowly getting back to normal. Charlie and Jayne worked extensively on the house during the weekends, in between taking the kids to soccer matches. For his father, Jake had decided to give soccer one more season, but it was clear that it was becoming too much of a routine and his performance was more and more lethargic. Charlie had hoped that at least Jake would earn a soccer scholarship to a division 1 school, but that was becoming more and more unlikely. As his father pushed him more and more, he became less and less interested. His grades started to suffer and he was no longer routinely coming home right after school. He would tell his parents that he was “hanging out with some friends.” When his parents questioned him about his friends he would become almost inaudible. Jayne would also notice that some days he seemed disheveled and his eyes looked red and glassy. Clearly something was up.
A concerned Jayne did a little research and was convinced that her son was using marijuana. When she confronted him on the issue he just shrugged and went to his room. When she followed him he would slam the door shut.
“Jake, I want to talk to you.”
“I don’t want to talk to you!”
Jayne would lean on the door and dream of a time when her son was more innocent and not affected by all of the turmoil of the world. Her plan was to try and find out who he was hanging out with and see if she could somehow intervene. She knew however that any intervention might create even more problems given his moody disposition as of late. His hormones were wreaking havoc so she would have to navigate cautiously.
As far as the two younger kids were concerned, they couldn’t be more content. They were happy in school, always did their homework and couldn’t wait for the weekends where they could play in the backyard as well as play on their soccer teams. Of course they were young and Charlie and Jayne were bracing for when they became teenagers.