The Small Town We Live In

This is a story about friendship, love, and everything in between.

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1. The New Girl

 

This is a work of fiction.

Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination

or are used fictitiously.

Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead,

is entirely coincidental.

 


 

 

"Alright, alright... I'll do it."

I stared at the phone after hanging up. I have never looked at something in my life with such annoyance.

My grandmother had just informed me about a new tenant moving in and told me to clean the room at the end of the hall upstairs.

"Well this is no fun. Why on Earth would another person choose to live here anyway?" I complained to myself as I collected the mop and the bucket from the shed behind the house. I haven't visited this place since the start of summer. Boy, did it reek.

 

My shoulders dropped as soon as I opened the vacant room's door and saw all the work I had to do. The cobwebs were thick enough to be curtains in every corner of the ceiling. The floor carpet was covered with so much dust that I was able to leave footprints on it. And worse, the moulds.

Disgusting.

I sighed, thinking I had to spend the whole day cleaning this room. On my day off too.

And so I began by sweeping the floor, coughing when the dust reached my face.

 

"Looks like a tough job," said Eric, as he stood by the door frame, "and very tiring too."

No shit.

"Glad you could see that. Are you just going to stand there?" I asked as I was finally able to move the last stuff out onto the hallway. I realized that this room had served as our storage place. There were a lot of stuff that I thought I have lost but they were only here all along.

He placed his fingers under his chin - which had at least two days worth of stubble, scratching it as he pondered on something. Yeah, right. He had dark hair that reached a bit past the bottom of the back of his neck. He often tied that up into a small bun but he had a beanie on today. Only he can pull off a beanie in the middle of summer and the world was like a giant oven.

"No," he feigned disappointment, "because I just remembered that I have something else to do." And just like that, as I have expected, Eric sauntered away - probably to his room, to get obsessed over something in his computer.

Eric is my best friend. He's got these unusual remedies stored in his head. Who knew sugar can stop hiccups? He's really reliable, you know, well except when it comes to cleaning. He could barely keep his room clean for one day.

I resumed cleaning and after a while, I needed to fetch new water. Kyle was enjoying a suspiciously familiar tub of ice cream down the living room.

"What are you busy for, Aidan?" he asked, licking the spoon.

"Is that my ice cream? It is, isn't it?" I accused, stopping myself from pouring the murky bucket of water at him.

"Relax..." He gave me a lazy smile. "It didn't have your name on it." He was looking up at me. You see, from the living room, one could see the open passage where the stairs led to and some of the doors of the rooms on the second floor. While from where I was standing, I could see the whole living room, as well as the arch that led to the dining room.

I made a note to myself that I needed to check the refrigerator later.

"Now what's all the cleaning for?" he asked. Unlike Eric, his hair was curly and unruly but he still managed to keep it in a way that even though it looked like a mop on his head, it suited him.

"Good thing you asked. Help me." I said.

"Why? It's your job," he gave me a lazy smile like the bum he was. "Grandma left the place to your care for a reason." Being friends since I could remember, Eric and Kyle had gotten used to calling my family like their own.

"Remind me why I'm friends with you again?" I shook my head, heading towards the bathroom.

"You love me, dude," He drawled.

"Any more love confessions I need to hear?" I heard Eric's voice as he skipped down the stairs, probably towards Kyle.

"Shut up," I groaned. Before I could head back to the vacant room, the phone rang. I raced down the stairs before Eric or Kyle could answer it. No one knows what they'll do to it or the caller. My so-called friends are weird like that.

My grandmother had called, telling me that the new tenant was going to arrive earlier than expected. Instead of tomorrow, she'll be here around dinner time.

She.

The new tenant was a girl. What was my grandmother thinking? So I voiced it out to her.

"So what?" she replied, "It's not like we never had a female boarder before."

"But Gran..." The first and only 'female boarder' we had was my cousin. But she had graduated and was now working in the city.

"I've made up my mind. That girl's family had been so kind to us." She said. I decided to end it right there before she went into lecture mode.

"Bye, Gran."

"Bye, Aidan." I hung up and sighed.

 

Great. Another princess like Keira... I thought, imagining the new girl. Keira was a school mate and she moved in from a city too. Let's just say she gave quite an impression. She was in almost every single conversation in the boy's locker room every week.

I flopped the wet mop on the floor and began wiping. And then there were faint running footsteps.

"Aidan?" I heard in a muffled manner. A door from the direction of my room opened and closed. "Aidan, where are you? Eric said you're up here!"

"In here!" I yelled back. The running footsteps came closer. The door opened and a little boy ran inside. "Ugh. I've always, always, reminded you about leaving your shoes outside the house. Now look at this, the floor's all muddy!" I scolded him, flopping the mop a little harder than necessary, splattering murky water on his pants in revenge. Petty, I know. But then I remembered who washes my little brother and I's clothes. Yours truly.

"Oops, sorry," he said shyly, without any trace of sincerity, at all. "But Aidan, can I borrow your bike?"

"Fine," I sighed. Then the boy cheered. "Just don't forget to leave your shoes outside, Connor."

"I will!" Then he ran downstairs. That's what he said the last time. And I don't even know why I bother.

 

After my personal back torture, it was dark outside. And I smell like molds. I shivered. I couldn't wait to have my shower.

"So, what do you guys want for dinner?" I asked.

It was just my luck that it was also my turn to cook dinner. The shower would have to wait. Cooking always went to Kyle. Despite his laziness, he made the best meals out of anything. He loved experimenting, and nothing could come between him and his love for food. But every other night I get to cook. I wasn't so bad myself, unlike Eric, who couldn't cook for his life. I mean, that boy couldn't even crack an egg without breaking the whole thing.

"Guys," I called from the kitchen, "about this new tenant..."

"We have a new boarder?" Connor asked.

"That's what I guessed with all the obsessive compulsive cleaning," Eric chimed in. I peeked through the small rectangle hole in the kitchen wall. It gave a view of the dining area and the passage towards the living room.

"Yeah," I continued, "the thing is...  the tenant's a g-" I didn't get to finish as I was interrupted by the bell. "Kyle, could you continue this for me for a sec?" I handed him the wooden spoon as soon as he entered.

 

I opened the gate and was surprised by what I saw. In front of me stood a girl with a knitted bonnet over her long hair and a thick framed glasses. Her skin was fair as the moonlight. She wore a sweater over a shirt and a long skirt. It gets pretty cold during the night here despite the oven-like temperature in the day.

"Uhh, may I help you?" I asked.

She then pulled a small piece of paper from her pocket. Flushed, she asked," I'm in the right address, am I not?" She had a gentle and soft voice. "Because you see, I've been to nine wrong houses already. I called earlier, and-"

"Oh, you're the one my grandmother was talking about?" I asked, "Come in." I looked around for her luggage but didn't find any aside from the one had on her shoulder. It was a small girly gym bag. She had another one on the other shoulder- not that big either. It was leather with beads and patterns on it.

"Where are your other bags?" I asked.

She looked at me with an eyebrow raised. "What other bags?"

I shrugged. Don't girls bring tons of baggage? I'd know, because my cousin did. "Let me help you with that." I said pointing to her gym bag.

"No thanks, I can manage." she said, heading towards the door. She waited for me as I followed after her on the steps towards the front door. I opened the screen door and more light shone on her face. I didn't know if it was the lighting and that it was quite dark here outside, but she didn't appear to have any make-up.

I noticed once we stepped inside, the room got quiet.

Everyone was looking at the girl in front of me as she lowered her bags on the floor.

She began tapping her foot while standing. "Right... So can anyone tell me where the bathroom is?"

 

 

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