“Eleanor Sanchez, you’re living in an era where Skype is a reality. So get a grip now.”
I told myself looking at my droopy reflection in the mirror. But then again, nothing could completely help me from missing the person who was most important to me in this whole wide world.
He left for Europe yesterday for a business tour. It wasn’t the first time that he was away. And every time he went, it always became difficult to cope up with his absence.
That warm and kind voice from behind was so good to hear.
I soon saw my Granny’s reflection in the mirror as she entered my room and I turned to face her. So yeah, Granny Sanchez is here with me. And Thank Goodness for her! She is a medium-heighted plump woman of around sixty with short brown hair and twinkling black eyes. She came over to look after me whenever Daddy was away on business.
“Bah! Weren’t those stairs I just used to get here audacious?” she said, dramatically moving her hands in disapproval, “I tell you, honeybun, those asses need a good spanking--” okay, she just call the staircase an ass, “I was about to nearly topple down. I don’t want to end up with an ugly fracture near my boobs. I’m still so young! Or maybe that wouldn’t be a bad idea after all,” she was nodding thoughtfully now, then fixed me with a serious look, “Just make sure there are ten shirtless young men with glistening abs nursing me out of it.”
I burst out laughing. And so did she. That’s my Gran, always ready to kick some ass, a shining bright star in my life.
“So what did your father say darling?” she asked softly, referring to the phone call I just had with my dad.
“He has landed at Heathrow airport and is en route to the hotel,” I responded, “Wish it were vacations still. I wouldn’t have had to miss him. I’d been in London with him right now.”
“Yeah, he’d have loved that too,” she said, looking at me kindly, “Your senior year in school starts tomorrow and he doesn’t want you to miss anything of a year so important for your future.”
I nodded, knowing her words were true.
“So,” she said, placing her hand on her hips, “Shall we get your clothes back from dry cleaning and make a trip to the supermarket? And then, I will bake your favorite chocolate cake and cook your favorite stuff for dinner? What say?”
“Sounds like a plan,” I smiled, feeling good. She’s really sweet.
Dressed in a pair of loose fitting jeans and a dark green baggy top, I stepped out of the house with my grandma into the cool and pleasant evening that felt relaxing to my skin. The soothing breeze teased my straight black tresses that cascaded down my shoulders.
I stayed in Crawford Lane with my father. I had similar hazel brown eyes like him but he wasn’t a great fan of chocolates like me. I wish I could tell something about my mother too.
Crawford Lane was a nice, quiet and friendly neighborhood having colorful houses with vintage rooftops. There was a park, a sports club and a library. No scandals or heavy gossip ever occurred here. Everyone had a good reputation and everyone minded their own business.
Outsiders regarded it as one boring neighborhood. But I liked such kind of a calm suburban lifestyle that was on the outskirts and untouched by the hustle and bustle of a busy city like New York.
Gran and I returned home having our arms full with three brown paper bags each brimming with groceries and other eatables. It took us some time to set all the items in the kitchen. We had just got done with that when the doorbell rang.
“Have you broken up with Luke yet?”
At the doorstep stood a girl who was looking at me with a lot of hope. She was wearing a tiered skirt of the lightest shade of brown with a black sleeveless top. She had brownish black hair that was slightly curly towards the tips and grey eyes.
She was Steffy.
“No?” I responded, raising an eyebrow at her. “For once, you can stop asking that to me whenever we meet.”
She gave me a look of displeasure. “And you can answer me with a Yes for once, babes,” she drawled as she walked in with her well-toned legs on wedges.
“I know you don’t approve of him but I like him the way he is,” I reasoned as I followed after her.
“He is someone you just can’t approve of for your best friend!” she said in exasperation, plopping down onto the sofa. “He is the most popular and good-looking guy in school and, not to be rude or anything, no one gives a fuck whether you and I exist or no. I’m sure he asked you to be his girlfriend only because of some ridiculous bet. Don’t let him break your heart.”
“Guess who’s reading too much of bad boy novels these days?” I said, narrowing my eyes. “Don’t your words sound too cliché to happen in real life?”
“Bitch please! Clichés are the real boss.”
“Just in your head, bitch.”
“Speaking of which, do you have any Ferrero Rochers left?” she asked out of the blue, looking at me with great expectations.
“Yeah I do,” I smiled.
“Of course you do! You always have lots and my luck never ditches me,” she grinned, shooting to her feet. “I should be in the kitchen robbing some.”
I giggled as Stef headed towards the kitchen. I heard Gran and she exchange greetings before my friend was back in the living room with a chilled box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates.
“Though I robbed a whole box, I’d be able to eat only two of these, or maybe five,” she mumbled, slumping again on the sofa, unwrapping one of the chocolates and tossing it into her mouth, “This tastes better than heaven,” she nearly cried, savoring it, “You’re so lucky that you eat boxes of them daily but still don’t gain weight.”
I smiled modestly, then randomly glanced sideways to see a cute guy with brown hair and twinkling brown eyes stood at the door with a goofy look on his face wearing black three-fourths and maroon hoodie.
“Hey Josh, what’s up? Come on in!” I greeted him with a wide smile.
“Don’t speak of the devil and yet the devil is here,” Stef muttered, loud enough for Josh to hear.
“No one asked you for your prejudiced opinions,” he threw a scowl her way as he dropped down on the sofa across to me. He soon came to notice what she was feasting on. “I love free food! I want a Ferroro Rocher!” he exclaimed, reaching out to grab the box from the mini table but missed it.
“You ain’t gonna have any from my box,” frowned Stef, holding the box away from him, “Walk your lousy feet to the kitchen to get yourself chocolates.”
“Your box? When did it becomeyourbox? She’s such a blood sucker. How can you be friends with her?” Josh asked me, giving Stef a cold look.
" Woof woof goes the dog,” sang Stef.
“Poor girl just can’t accept she ain’t good at bowling as me, ” sneered Josh.
Stef pretended to not have heard him.
I laughed. “Listen up mortals, this happens to be my house and I get to decide how long a silly fight lasts. Josh, ” I said, turning to him, ” I will get you chocolates and when I return, I should find both of you alive.”
Stef and Josh looked away from each other and sat with their noses high in the air.
I sighed and left for the kitchen. When I returned, both my best friends were seated exactly how I had left them. I laughed and handed over the round chocolates to Josh.
" Thanks a lot, El!” said Josh. “So glad you’re not one of those mad people who waste time annoying sane humans instead of confessing their true feelings to someone they really like,”
That got a 360 degree change in Stef. A blush crept onto her cheeks that she wasn’t aware of.
Josh smirked, “Yeah right, I’m talking about Adam. You like him a lot, don’t you?”
“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said without meeting our eyes.
“Please, dude, El and I ain’t empty nuts here to not see what’s going on between you two,” said Josh and I nodded knowingly, “Why don’t you get upfront with him and tell him about your more-than - just - best - friends feeling for him?”
“Excuse me? Boys are the ones who are supposed to make the first move. That’s the universal rule,” Stef said, narrowing her eyes on him.
“It’s so unfair to leave everything to the boys,” protested Josh. “Why do boys have to do all the stuff? We guys have to work the hardest to get things dirty on the bed too!”
Steffy and I gave him a look at that statement of his.
“So, how many girls did it take last night to help you lose your virginity?” Stef mocked.
Josh scowled at her. “I was just giving an example of how every expectation is pinned on the boys.”
“Yeah so, we surely don’t have it in us to come up with a decent example, right?” I taunted him.
“Decent is the antonym of Josh.”
We heard that voice and turned our heads to the door to see none other than Adam stepping inside the house. He was wearing three fourths like Josh and a checkered shirt.
Adam was a complete boy next door with blonde hair and light brown eyes completed with a charming smile on his face.
“Hey man, hope you have been standing there for long,” said Josh which earned him a death glare from Stef.
“Nah! Just arrived, “smiled the other boy and I saw relief on Stef’s face.
“Hey thanks, Eleanor,” said Adam politely.” So what did I miss?” he asked, joining us.
“N-Nothing at all,” Stef said hurriedly even before Josh could open his mouth.
“H-Hi Steffy,” Adam greeted her, meeting her eyes consciously. “How are you?”
“I am good...thanks...um, what about you?”
“I’m good too...can I, uh, sit here if you don’t mind?” Adam asked awkwardly referring to the place next to Stef on the couch.
“Y-Yeah, sure,′ Stef responded consciously. “Here, h-have some chocolates.”
Stef was so nervous that some of the Ferrero Rochers fell off the box as she held it in front of him.
Stef and Adam bumped their heads when they clumsily bent down at the same time to pick those chocolates up and when their hands accidently brushed against each other, they pulled away more awkward than ever.
Josh seemed to enjoy their antics. Even I found their behavior so amusing that I had a hard time holding back my laughter.
“So I was saying that the lane is buzzing with the news of a new family coming to live here,” spoke Josh.
“Yeah. Mr Max, the real estate agent is quite happy with the commission he has got after selling the house in a neighborhood that’s looked upon as boring,” added Adam, sounding glad to be talking about something.
“Hey wait, what are you guys talking about? A new family in Crawford Lane?” I asked, caught completely off guard by that.
The three of them gave me looks of surprise.
“Don’t you know about it yet, El?” she asked. I shook my head feeling stupid. She spoke further, “Okay, well, the new family is gonna occupy the house that’s right next to yours. They would be what you literally call, your neighbor.”
I let the news sink into my skin. I looked out through the window at my neighboring house. It’s been quite a while since that house has been vacant after old Mr. Alfred moved to Chicago.
“If that’s the case, I just hope my new neighbors wouldn’t be one of those nosy or noisy neighbors ’cause I’m quite used to living next to a calm and empty house and Mr. Alfred had been very sweet.”