Chapter 2 - Joshua
Present: Age 15
I opened the car door of our old worn out Volkswagen and helped mom out. At least, my father gave enough money to my mother to start a new life.
This new neighborhood was decent. Opening the trunk, I began removing our suitcases. Mom came behind me and started fiddling to help me.
“No, mom. Stop. You’ll hurt your back. Just open the house. I’ll bring the suitcases in” I told her, shaking my head at her attempts to pick the luggage. She sighed and gave me a soft smile.
I unloaded the rest of the luggage and boxes one by one. It wasn’t much anyway. We just carried things that we needed and whatever mum owned before marrying dad. While I was on my second last box, I felt a stare on my back.
Turning around, I surveyed for its source. I looked up and saw a girl wearing a white tank top and duck-patterned shorts, gazing at me from her windowsill. I couldn’t make much of her features because of the glass window. Though, what anyone could see bright as a day, was that goofy grin on her face. I gave her an awkward wave. My cheeks reddened when she didn’t wave back. Ahem.
I just ignored her stare and emptied the car. Picking up the bags in both my hands, I looked back at the girl again. Damn, did she even blink? Okay, two can play this game. So I did what anyone with an excellent sense of humor would do.
I stared back at her.
I think good two minutes passed; my eyes threatened to water. Suddenly, the girl’s body jerked as if she just registered that I was staring back at her. She fumbled with her curtains and disappeared behind them.
Ha ah! I won! A broad grin spread on my face.
Smack! “Ouch! What was that for?” I groaned at mom when her hand made an impact with the back of my head.
“Young man! Give me one good reason, why were you creepily staring at that girl?”, with her hands on her hips, mom fumed at me. My ears and face rushed with blood.
“I wasn’t staring! She started staring first!”
“Oh, right! That’s why you had that stalkerish smile on your face when she went in!”, my mother narrowed her eyes on me. I swear, for a moment I could see steam emit from her ears. Before I could say anything, she cut me off.
“Just finish the work here and get your ass to her house and apologize! I do not want our neighbors to think badly of us on our very first day!”, mom whisper-yelled at me, slapping my chest and stomped back in the house.
“So they can think badly of us on our second day?”, I muttered under my breath.
“WHAT? What did you say?”, mom yelled from wherever she was in the house. I cleared my throat and rushed into the house with our luggage.
The previous owners had fixed the house for us in a decent condition. So, we didn’t have much to do. Expect to get furniture and appliances.
Mom had been coming back and forth the past month and getting the furniture in place while I finished my evaluations in my old school. I was going to start my classes at my new school next week. So I had some time to settle in and look for a part-time job.
I finished placing the plates in the cabinets, and mom worked on fixing lunch for us. She cleared her throat and glared at me. I sighed. When mom wants me to do something, I have to do it. I prefer being alive.
I threw the cloth from my shoulder on the table and walked out across the street.
Looking at my feet, perfectly knowing that my mother was keeping an eye on me from our kitchen window, I knocked on our neighbor’s door. No answer. I knocked again. No answer. I knock-
A feminine voice groaned rubbing her forehead.
“Oh, God! I am so sorry. I didn’t realize you opened the door”, I apologized, raising my hand to rub her forehead. I ended up leaving my hands suspended in the air.
The girl stopped rubbing her forehead. She backed her face away at our proximity and looked at me with wide, confused eyes.
Roaming my eyes all over her, I drank in her features.
She had a round face but with a defined jawline. Her dark brown hair was flowing till her waist, eyebrows shaped of a perfect crescent moon, plum and the pinkest lips I had ever seen with striking brown irises staring straight into my mine. Her still growing tits shaped circularly under that thin white tank top. Even though her shorts reached mid-thigh, I could see those toned legs.
I gulped and rigidly dropped my hands.
“Err…I came to apologize”, I said in a sluggish tone when silence doomed us. The girl opened her mouth to speak something but shut it quickly. She continued staring at me. My face turned into a grimace.
“My mom thought I was looking at you too long a while ago. It was inappropriate. I am sorry.”, I quickly added. After a few seconds, she just gave me a slow nod—frustration built in me.
“You know, you could speak something”, I snapped at her. She took a step back at my sudden change of tone. I instantly felt guilt for being rude. She just shook her head at me.
“What? You don’t speak, or you don’t want to speak to me?” I asked with curiosity, narrowing my eyes. She just twisted her head and gave me look with a slight shrug. Is the girl mute? My brows furrowed.
“Do you not speak?” I asked in a perplexed tone. She just looked at her feet and slowly shook her head.
“I am sorry. But, you can hear what I am saying?” I asked stupidly.
“Oh nice, I do not know sign language”, I said awkwardly kicking my feet on imaginary dirt. She just blankly stared at me.
“Err… we are your new neighbors. I am Joshua. I moved in with my mom; her name is Susan. What’s yours?” I asked reflexively attempting to curb my discomfort. I mentally facepalmed myself.
“Oh, right, sorry. You cannot speak”, how am I just making things worse? The girl looked at me with pursed lips.
“I’ll just call you duck-girl”, I said, smiling enthusiastically. The girl gave me a wide-eyed looked filled with horror.
“No! I meant, well… you are wearing duck shorts. So duck-girl…as in…”, oh god, I should just stop talking. I am just making this even more unbearable.
“I think I’ll leave. See you around”, I finished my monologue and did my walk of shame towards my new house. I heard her door closing behind me.
I sighed and placed my head in my hands when I entered the house. That was terrible! Since when did I get nervous around girls?
I entered the kitchen and saw mom put a plate on the table with spaghetti. I washed my hands, took a glass of water and sat down. I began eating.
“So, how was it?” mom enquired, sitting across me. I swallowed the portion I was munching.
“It was… fine, I think”, I said, drinking some water.
“You think?”, mom asked with one raised eyebrow.
“The girl… is well, she can’t speak”, I said, not looking at her and twirling my next portion with my fork.
“What do you mean she can’t speak?”, mom asked.
“I think she is mute”, I said shrugging.
“Oh, dear!”, mom whispered sadly. I just nodded my head. Looking over mom’s shoulder, through the kitchen window, I saw a dusty Honda park.
Three identical-looking men and an older similar-looking man walked out. One of the three identical-looking men used their keys and unlocked Duck-girl’s house.
It is official. Duck-girl has my curiosity piqued.
Thankfully, the rest of the day was uneventful. I spend my time placing things around the house. When the sun began to set, I entered my room with my bags. Mom already had a bed, closet, study table and a few empty shelves fixed for me.
Tiredly, I started unpacking. Balling my clothes into the shape of a football, I dumped them in my closet. No use folding them neatly as mom does, I’ll be crumpling them anyway.
My study table was adjacent to the windowsill. I picked up my curtains and started attaching them on the railings.
I looked out my window; my room faced dang opposite of Duck-girl’s room. The windows of her room were open.
Duck-girl was sitting on her chair with her laptop on her study table. Her hair was tied back in a messy bun and her lips puckered with whatever was on the screen. A soft wind blew implacable strands of hair off her face while she was typing murderously on her keyboard with headphones plugged in.
She felt my stare and looked at me. Removing her headphones, she gave me a soft smile and a wave.
So, maybe I didn’t creep her out entirely. Yet. I waved back with a wide grin on my face.
Just when I was about to say something -
“Reagan! Get down to the kitchen!”, a male voice boomed from her house.
She turned towards her door. Looking back at me, she waved goodbye and walked out of her room.
“Reagan”, I tested the sound of her name on my lips.
Reagan. Yep, I like the name. Reagan.
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