I walked back into the house to find the smell of haddock fill my nose. I loved my mom's baked haddock so much that it made me completely forget about my conversation with Michael and the supposedly haunted house across the street. I followed my nose into the kitchen to find my mom mixing up some instant mashed potatoes.
"Hey mom." I greeted, peeking over her shoulder into the pot.
"How was your walk?" she questioned, putting the cover back on the stainless steel pot and turning to face me.
That definitely reminded me of the conversation. I shrugged, leaning back against the island. "Fine."
"Meet anyone in the neighborhood?"
"Yeah, some guy. Actually, two guys."
A mischievous smile spread across my mother's face. "Oh really?"
"Mom, it's nothing huge, okay?" I sighed. "One of them was kind of cocky, and the other never even talks."
My mom's face fell. "Well...I'm sure there are much better people in town. You'll see."
"Oh, I'm hanging out with one of them later tonight." I told her.
The look she gave me almost made me laugh. She looked at me like I had just asked her about different recipes to prepare a dog. She sighed and rolled her eyes, turning back to the food on the stove.
"Alright," she finally said. "Just be back before ten, I guess."
I left the kitchen and went up to my room to get a little bit of research done before dinner. I switched on my fairy lights and went over to my bed, pulling my laptop onto my thighs. I proped my pillows up against the headboard and leaned back against them. I opened my laptop and went to google and searched for Westfield Drive in my town. A bunch of different newspaper articles came up. I clicked on the first one and the headline really grabbed my attention.
Entire Family Dead at 30 Westfield Drive House. Must've been about the Hemmings House. The article basically talked about exactly what Michael had already told me. I moved onto the next article that said Boy Killed in Motorcycle Accident. That definitely wasn't about the Hemmings House.
A boy was killed in a motorcycle accident on Westfield Drive on September 23, 2013. His family asked for his identity to be closed to the public, but it was released that he was only eighteen. No one saw the accident or knows what caused it. The boy was found five feet away from his bike, which had skidded down the road.
"Bridgette, dinner!" my mom called from downstairs.
I'd have to ask Michael about that later. I closed my laptop and headed downstairs to eat. It was 7:03 according to the clock on the stove. After dinner I'd have to go meet up with Michael. I sat down at the table across from my brother and folded my arms on the table.
"So your mother tells me you're meeting up with a boy later?" my dad inquired.
"A boy?" my brother, Jeremy scoffed. "What boy is meeting up with you?"
I shrugged. "His name is Michael. I met him after mom and dad kicked me out of the house for a while."
"There's gotta be something wrong with this kid if he's hanging out with you," my brother laughed. "C'mon, is he a drug dealer? Rapist? Serial killer?"
"Jeremiah!" my mom scolded.
Jeremy just shrugged and picked up his fork. "Just trying to keep her safe."
"If 'just keeping me safe' is a new way to say 'trying to harrass and make fun of me', then you're doing beautifully." I told him.
"Shut up and eat your fish." my dad grumbled.
I zipped up my jacket as I closed the front door and walked down the driveway. I sat down on the sidewalk in front of my house and waited for Michael to come meet me. I stared at the ground and nudged a pebble around with the toe of my shoe. That's when I noticed a dark shadow looming above me. I looked up and met eyes with Michael.
"Have fun, Cooper?" he smirked.
"A blast," I said and stood up, dusting off my pants. "So where are we going?"
"Just for a walk," he shrugged. "Is that alright with you, Cooper?"
"Is there a problem with my first name?" I asked him as we began walking the way towards his house.
Michael just shrugged. "I just like calling you Cooper. Is there a problem with your last name?"
"No, I was just wondering," I told him, and then added, "Clifford."
He laughed at me. "Cute, Cooper. But no one likes a copycat."
We walked down the street until we reached the house that had the huge tree in the front yard that Ashton was leaning against. Michael led me down the short driveway to the front door. He knocked twice on it and waited.
"Hope you don't mind if Ashton joins us." he said as we waited for Ashton.
"Oh, so you'll call him by his first name." I pointed out.
Michael flashed me a small smile. "I was just making sure you knew who I was talking about," he turned and pounded three times on the door. "Hey, Irwin, let's go!"
"How come he doesn't talk?" I questioned quietly.
Michael and shrugged and made an "I don't know" kind of noise. "He won't even talk to me."
Ashton opened the door and slipped outside, already wearing his sunglasses. Michael turned and grabbed my wrist, bringing me down the steps with him and back down the driveway. Ashton stepped into place on Michael's other side and walked silently with us.
"Irwin, you remember Cooper, right?" Michael asked, gesturing to me.
Ashton looked around Michael to nod his head at me like he did earlier in the afternoon. I nodded back with a small smile before looking down at my feet again. I had to ask Michael about the motorcycle accident but how could I bring it up without sounding creepy about it? "Yeah, wanna tell me about the dude who died in the middle of the road?" Not exactly the best.
"So Cooper," Michael began. "How old are you?"
"Seventeen," I replied. "I'll be eighteen in two weeks. Why, how old are you?"
"Aw, you're a little baby! I'm already eighteen," he smiled proudly. Ashton grunted and Michael tripped over his feet into me. "Ow! What? Oh, yeah, Ashton's nineteen."
"Aw, you're a little baby!" I imitated and Ashton smiled at me, showing off a set of dimples.
"Don't encourage him." Michael muttered, taking his sunglasses from his back pocket and sliding them on.
"Why do you guys constantly wear sunglasses?" I inquired. "It's getting dark out."
"Because we're fucking badass, that's why." Michael said, holding his head up high.
I rolled my eyes. Alright, time to get down to business before Michael had to go back home. "Hey, can I ask a question?"
"Shoot, Cooper." Michael said, stopping at a crosswalk. He looked both ways before leading Ashton and I across the street.
"I did some research," I began slowly. "And apparently someone else died on this road. I didn't get to read all of it, but it said there was a motorcycle crash."
Michael stopped dead in his tracks. Ashton faced me before yanking on Michael's arm to pull him behind his body so Ashton was now in the middle. Ashton faced Michael but kept his arms out, like he was trying to protect me from him. Michael's face was blank as he slid his glasses off his face. He was looking in my direction, but it was like he was staring passed me.
"I need to get home." he said almost in a whisper.
Ashton relaxed and let Michael turn and walk away from us. I gently pushed passed Ashton.
"What do you mean you have to go?
Michael turned abruptly and he looked absolutely enraged. "Just drop it, Bridgette," I took a step back, my face falling. Michael seemed to calm down a bit too. He turned away again. "I'll see you tomorrow, Cooper."
I just watched as Michael crossed the road again and continued down the street, putting his sunglasses back on over his green eyes. Ashton lightly touched my arm and I turned around to look up at him. His mouth was slightly parted like he wanted to say something, but he closed it. He pointed back the way Michael had just left.
"Right, you probably want to get home." I nodded and so did he. He began walking, but paused and waved me forward for me to walk with him. I scurried forward and walked across the street with him. I couldn't think of anything to fill the awkward silence, so I just noted the obvious. "So...you don't talk?"
Ashton chuckled and shook his head.
"How long has that been going on for?" I wondered.
Ashton look up and moved his fingers like he was counting. He held up six fingers.
"Six years?" I gasped. He shook his head. "Six...months?"
"Do you ever get tired of never talking to anyone?"
He shrugged and nodded a little.
"How long have you been friends with Michael?"
Ashton did his little counting thing again before he held up two fingers.
"Two months?" I asked and he shook his head. "Two years?"
"Do you have any other friends?"
"Do you talk to them?"
He paused, then nodded.
"How come you'll talk to them but not anyone else?"
He shrugged and shook his head.
"Right, you probably can't explain. You know, with the whole not talking thing."
He laughed and ran a hand through his hair. He patted me on the back before jamming both of his hands in his pockets.
"So...you like me then?" I guessed.
Ashton smiled and nodded.
"Good," I smiled back. "I like you too. So maybe I can get you to talk to me someday."
Ashton shrugged, but kept the smile on his face.
Word count: 1,709