Delilah

Delilah Walsh has lived in the same house for the last fifteen years. However, the house next door has never been one so lucky. Majority seem to be encompassed by the idea of living there, though no one ever stays. All Delilah ever wanted was a neighborhood friend to ride bikes with or play in the yard, but after many years of children coming and going, she decided it wasn’t worth worrying about. The end has come to her first year of high school, and almost routinely, moving trucks have gathered outside the house next door. The thought of new neighbors no longer sparks her interest. Although, this family has something the others didn’t: a teenage boy.

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2. The Neighbors

Delilah’s POV

As, I reach the bottom of the stairs, I see my mom standing, wide-eyed and all smiles, holding a large plate full of baked goods.

“Really?” I look at her, unamused.

“Yes, really,” she states, returning my look.

“Why?” I whine, pleading with my eyes.

“Delilah Elise, we are going and that’s final,” she demands, giving me her ‘don’t-argue-with-me’ look.

“Okay, okay,” I surrender, “No need for the middle name.” She rolls her eyes, and her smile returns as she heads for the door. Unwillingly, I follow her.

As we step onto the neighbors’ lawn, I spot three of the four girls I saw earlier, still running around on the freshly cut grass. I make eye contact with the oldest of the three, and immediately they all stop dead in their tracks.

“Hello,” my mother speaks softly, “Are your parents around?” The two littlest girls, who I suspect to be twins, stare mesmerized at the plate my mom holds--each of them wearing a greedy grin. The older one continues to hold my gaze.

“Mooooom,” she begins, not tearing her eyes from mine, “People want to see you.”

“What?” is all I can hear, and out of the corner of my eye I see a young woman pull her head out from inside the trunk. I break eye contact with the girl, who continues to stare, and glance over at the woman. Beside her, stands another young girl, though she looks older than the one staring at me. Slowly, they make their way over to us.

“Hi,” my mom smiles at her with her award winning smile. “I’m Diane, and this is my daughter Delilah. We’re your new neighbors.” The woman exhales deeply, running a hand through her hair--her stress becoming very apparent on her face.

“Hi,” she smiles back, “I’m Johannah. These are my daughters, Daisy, Phoebe, Felicite, and Charlotte.”

“Lottie,” the oldest of the four girls corrects her. Johannah rolls her eyes.

“Yes, Lottie,” she repeats. “It’s very nice to meet you both.”

“You too,” my mother replies, “It’s always nice to have a friendly neighbor.” If it possible, my mother’s smile seems to get bigger. Oh, no. She’s likes them. Mom, no. Don’t get attached. “I always like to welcome the neighbors with a little something, so I baked. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Oh!” Johannah’s face lights up, “Not at all! Thank you!” No. No. No. She likes my mother too. Don’t make it harder on yourself, lady! Just then, I hear the door swing open and out steps the boy. Oh, jeez. “There you are!” Johannah shouts. “Diane, Delilah, this is my son, Louis.”

“Hi,” he mumbles quietly, walking up beside them. He glances at my mom politely, then to me. He half smiles, nervously, then looks back at my mom, listening to her and his mother talk.

“Excuse me, but I notice you have an accent,” my mother blurts out. Wow, way to point out the obvious Mom. “English, is it?”

Johannah smiles. “Yes, actually. We’ve just moved from Doncaster.” The boy sighs. Obviously, he wasn’t in favor of the move. Johannah notices, and rolls her eyes. “Oh would you just get over yourself, Louis.”

He glances at her a moment, his lips parted as if he’s going to say something, but doesn’t. Before anything else can be said, he makes his way over to the trunk, collecting a handful of boxes, and walks inside the house.

“You’ll have to excuse my son,” Johannah apologizes, “He isn’t exactly thrilled to be here.” I glance around, pausing on each of the young girls’ faces. The twins are still eyeing the tray, while the middle daughter, Felicite, I think it was, is carefully observing my mother. She doesn’t seem to know what to think of us. The oldest, Char—I mean, Lottie, stands politely, yet unamused. She seems to have the same feelings about the move as her brother.

I stand quietly, listening to my mother and Johannah chat. I've lost interest in just about everything they've said, but I continue to stick around. Finally, Johannah tells my mother that she has to get back to unpacking, or she'll be out here all night. By this time, the twins are back to chasing each other, and the other two girls are talking on the porch. I glance quickly back at the house, but I don't see any sign of the boy. I shake my head. Stop worrying about him, Delilah. He's not staying. They never do.

My mom and I walk back to the house after saying our goodbyes to the new neighbors. I look up at her and she's smiling like a fool.

"You really like them, don't you?" I ask, studying her face.

"Don't you?" she asks excitedly, avoiding my question.

"Yeah, they seem nice." 

"Oh, so nice!" she repeats with more enthusiasm. I shake my head. It's like we've switched roles. Ever since Dad left, she's been eager to find someone new to talk to. Every time she spots moving trucks outside the house next door, she becomes a whole new person. Now I realize how pathetic I looked as a young girl. Fact is, I learned. She's still just as naive. 

I make my way back to my room, leaving my mom to fuss over the new neighbors. I sit on my bed, reaching for my sketchbook, and stare at the strange person. I chew my pencil again, waiting for my hand to take over and finish the mystery person, but after several moments of meaningless staring, I give up. I get up and walk over to my desk to put my sketchbook away, when I catch a glimpse of Louis pacing his room. As I look closer, I notice that he's talking on the phone. He looks upset. I stare curiously for a moment, when suddenly he looks up and meets my gaze. I freeze. He says something else into the phone, not tearing his eyes from mine. In a matter of seconds, he hangs up, putting the phone back in his pocket. I mentally hit myself for staring, but I don't look away. Just then, I get an idea. I take my sketchbook back out from the drawer, and flip to a new page. Next, I scribble Are you okay? in big black letters, and hold it up high, so Louis can see. He stares at it expressionless for what feels like forever, and then he smiles. He holds up a finger, gesturing for me to wait while he searches for something in his room to answer me with. He comes back to the window with a small notebook and a sharpie. He writes, Yeah. Thanks (= on it, and holds it up, smiling. I squint, attempting to read the small writing and before I know it, I'm smiling too.

Okay. Good. (: I write back, and then before he can answer, I write, Sorry for staring..

He smiles, shaking his head, and holds his thumb up. Oh, good. He's not mad. All of a sudden, his eyes widen, as if he's just heard bad news. His smile drops immediately, and he begins scribbling vigorously on the paper. I gotta go. )= Sorry he writes, and then quickly leaves the room. I stand there a minute after he's gone, puzzled. I shake my head, knowing it's not worth worrying about and walk back to my bed. I spend the rest of the evening, laying in bed reading my book. That is, until I'm called down to supper. 

As I reach the dining room, I see my mother has laid out a three course meal on our overly large dining table. I find her in the kitchen, finishing up the desert. She still wears the same foolish grin she had on earlier. 

"Is Dad coming home?" I ask, my eyes wide.

"What?" She looks at me, her smile fading.

"I mean there's got to be some reason you cooked so much food.." I say, hiding a smile. She is unamused.

"Delilah, can't you just appreciate a well cooked meal for once? Without all the sarcasm." she scolds. 

"Sorry, Mom." I roll my eyes, and look down guiltily. She continues her work, and I walk back to the table, taking a seat in my usual chair. Minutes later, she joins me, smiling again. I shake my head, knowing exactly why she's so happy, but I don't say a word. Who am I to ruin my mother's good mood?

"I'm thinking about inviting Johannah and her family over for dinner sometime this week." she says, breaking the ongoing silence. 

"Oh?" is all I manage to say. Oh, Mom. Not this again. 

"Yes," she smiles, "Would you join us?" She looks at me expectantly.

"Oh.." I pause. "Erm.. of course." I smile, humoring her. It works. Her face lights up again and she goes off on her long spiel about the new neighbors. I start off, listening intently, but before I'm aware of it, my mind begins to wander.

 

Louis's POV

I leave the room quickly, embarrassed. The last thing I need is the new neighbor girl thinking I'm some kind of 'Peeping Tom'. I head toward the front door, my mind set on getting more boxes from the car, but decide to take a quick look at the rest of the house before I get there. I wander around the first floor, peeking in each of the many rooms. The house is nice. Too nice. In fact, it's debatable whether or not my mum can afford it. I look around at all the pale colored walls and dark mahogany floors. This place has to be twice as much as our last home. Come to think of it, the whole neighborhood is pretty exquisite. I begin feeling uncomfortable.

After a some-what brief look over the house, I make my way back out to the front yard. When I open the door, I see two women standing on the lawn talking to my mother. As I move closer I notice the younger of the two women is the neighbor girl.

"There you are!" My mother shouts as I walk toward them. "Diane, Delilah, this is my son, Louis." Hmm. Delilah? What an interesting name.

"Hi," I mumble, finally reaching them. I give them both a quick smile, and stand listening quietly to the ongoing conversation.

"Excuse me, but I notice you have an accent," I hear Diane say. "English, is it?"

"Yes, actually," my mother smiles, "We've just moved from Doncaster." I sigh. Yeah, unfortunately. My mother pauses, looking at me and rolling her eyes. "Oh would you just get over yourself, Louis." Get over myself?! You took me away from my home. Don't tell me to get over myself. I begin opening my mouth to give her a piece of my mind, but decide not to embarrass her, or myself in front of the new neighbors. Quickly, I shut my mouth and walk over to get more boxes. I storm into the house, upset by my mothers attitude. "Get over yourself, Louis." I mumble to myself, mocking her. I wish it was that easy, mum! 

I just can't believe her sometimes. She acts like it's my fault we moved. It's so frustrating! You get in one little scrap, and it's off to another country. I roll my eyes. Okay, so it sounds like it's my fault.. but she doesn't know the whole story, and she sure as hell hasn't given me a chance to explain myself. From the moment she received that call from Mr. Morrison, she began treating me like an absolute criminal. "Louis do this. Louis do that. Louis, don't do that or you'll mess it up!" I'm seriously beginning to think I'm in primary school again. Don't get me wrong, my mum is as good as they come. I love her more than anything, but lately, we've been each other's least favorite people. 

I set the boxes down in the middle of the floor, next to the other hundred boxes that had already been brought in. How did we even manage to bring this much stuff? I look around. This is really all of it. ...well, except for the obvious furniture. Wow. She wasn't kidding. I live here now. In America. I groan at the thought, and head back up to "my room." As I reach my room, I notice a box that wasn't there before. I figure one of my sisters must have brought it up while I was wandering around. I open it up to find my old football trophies, my football, and some photographs. I smile, tossing the football up in the air. It still smells of fresh grass. I look closer in the box, and pick up the photographs. I flip through, smiling at me and my teammates. I look closer and see a photo of me and Stan at Keepmoat Stadium. I stare at it a moment and frown. Stan. He's the real reason I'm here. He should have known better. I put the photos down in disgust, and reach for my phone. I think about giving Stan a ring and a piece of my mind. I shake my head. Wouldn't do any good. I'm here, now. Yelling at Stan wouldn't change that.

I begin to set my phone down when it starts buzzing in my hand.

"Tommo," I state out of habit. Not recognizing the number, I correct myself. "I-I mean. Louis speaking." 

"Louis! Hi! This is Caroline Akers. Ella's mum. Sorry to bother you, but I can't seem to get ahold of your mum. Luckily, Tessa had your mobile number. Anyway, I was just wondering if the twins were still coming to Ella's birthday party on Friday. I'm trying to get a count for everyone coming so we have enough food." 

I frown. "Erm..no, I'm sorry Mrs. Akers, but the twins won't be able to make it. We.." I swallow, accepting my fate, "We don't exactly live in Doncaster anymore."

"You moved?" she sounds surprised. "I can't believe I didn't know that. Tessa nor Ella has said anything about that. Where to?"

I look down, kicking at the carpet. "To be honest, they probably don't know we moved. Mum kind of just packed us up and left." I pause before answering her second question. "Connecticut," I finally say. 

"Connecticut?" her voice raises and octave. "As in the states?" 

"Yeah.." I mumble, looking around my room. My eyes travel over my window and I see a distinct shape in the window across from mine. I stare blankly at the figure, distracted by my conversation with Mrs. Akers. 

"Wow. Well, best wishes to you and your family, Louis. Shame we couldn't have said goodbye."

"Thanks, Mrs. A. Tell Tessa and Ella I said hello?" 

"Don't you mean goodbye?" she corrects me. I sigh, but stare expressionless at the window. 

"Yeah.. I guess so. Goodbye." I hang up the phone and realize I've been staring at the neighbor girl again. Shit! She must think I'm a creep. I narrow my eyes trying to see if she's even looking my way, and just my luck she is. I move closer and she she's holding up a sign. 

"Are you okay?" I read.

I smile. She's worried about me. I nod, but realize she probably can't see me. Quickly, I look around my room and find something to answer her with. The best I can come up with is a sharpie and a used notebook from school. I tell her I'm fine and she apologizes for staring. I laugh. I'm the one who was staring. I give her a thumbs up, and let her know it's cool. I think about telling her that I'm not as creepy as I seem, but am interrupted by my mum's harsh voice.

"Louis! Get down here!" 

My smile drops immediately, and I scribble a goodbye on the sheet of paper. I drop the paper in the box with my trophies and photographs, and quickly make my way downstairs. I wonder what I did this time. 

 

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