I was never one to shy away from change. I craved it, an adventure. Moving to California from Texas was an adventure if I'd ever heard of one. When my mama told me about her new teaching position, I was excited. I was a solitary person, mostly, I had one or two friends in Texas, but we only ever talked online. I never wanted them at my house. I need copious amounts of alone time, and the thought of having some shit head teenager my age in my room made me cringe. My mama was always really great about my introversion. She never pushed me to make new friends or 'go out.' She said my daddy was the exact same way. For that, I was grateful. Which is also part of the reason I wasn't at all bothered by moving. My mama had always hated Texas. Her family originated from San Diego, and she craved the salty air and sand. My dad had promised to take her back, but he died before he could. I was only 5, then. I barely remember him, but I'm glad my mother was fulfilling his promise to her. The packing and moving process was exhausting, all of the moving men in my house was draining, so I mostly hid out in my room until it was time for them to load the boxes from in there, too. I disappeared until everything was settled in the van. My mother found me curled under the stairs with a book.
"Ready, kiddo?" She asked, offering me her hand. I gave her a smile and accepted it, allowing her to lift me to my feet.
"I'm ready. How long will it take to get there?" I asked, following her out of the house and watching her lock it behind her. I wasn't generally a sentimental person, but saying goodbye to the last place my dad was wasn't exactly easy. She kissed the door before answering me.
"We, are flying! So, three hours, give or take." She exclaimed. My eyes widened.
"I've always wanted to fly! I love the way airplanes work, y'know?" I began to babble rapidly before I was cut off by my mama's wind chime laughter.
"Oh honey, you find joy in the strangest things." She smoothed my long brown hair down my back and touched my nose lightly. "You are such a cool kid, you know that? Every day you remind me of him. He was like a breath of fresh air in this miserable place." My mom wrapped an arm around my shoulders. "Let's go. Our flight leaves in two hours."
We arrived at the Los Angeles airport with only two suitcases for each of us, and a carry on. I'm not sure what my mom had in hers, but mine was loaded down with Stephen King novels. I didn't actually believe in the paranormal, but I appreciated his extensive imagination. My mom hailed a cab, something I'm sure I would have to learn to do, and gave the taxi driver our new address. I looked around me. The movies didn't lie. Palm trees and pretty people for miles.
I have to admit, the house gave me the creeps, but my logical brain told me it was because it needed a fix up. I was up for the challenge. My mother's sharp intake of breathe upon her first look at the house was that of excitement, not apprehension. We were both in awe of it. Hastily she paid the taxi driver, and he helped us unload our luggage. After he had driven away, we stood in front of the wrought iron gate that led into our small front yard.
"It's got such character!" My mother breathed. I nodded in agreement.
"Looks like the perfect setting for a horror book, but in a really cool way." I replied. She shot me a smile.
"Well, let's go inside then." She pulled out the handle of her suitcases and rolled them up the sidewalk and into the house. The foyer was gorgeous, if not a little outdated. Everything was rich wood and stained glass. The staircase was almost too grand as it twisted up into the second story. The banister begged me to slide down it. I made a mental note to try it after I'd unpacked. We walked through the hallway, speechless. The kitchen had been remodeled by previous owners, it was modern and cozy, and I couldn't wait to sit in the breakfast nook overlooking the yard.
"Go, find your bedroom!" My mom urged. I dragged my luggage up the stairs and came to a room at the end of the hall. The ceiling was all odd angles, the color a dulled blue. I loved it. To the right was a door leading into a small bathroom and on the wall to the right of the entry door was a chalk board. The words 'I love you' were written, faded, in chalk. I smiled. I loved a good mystery. I decided I wouldn't erase it. I dumped my luggage against the door way and sat in the middle of the empty room, enjoying its ambiance.
"Did you find one?" My mother asked, her slim figure appearing in my doorway, smiling.
"I did. Isn't it neat?"
"It really is. The architecture in this house is amazing. Did you know there's an attic and a basement?" She wiggled her fingers at me and made a spooky 'oooooh' noise. I laughed, "If you want, we can paint the walls."
"I think I will. This color is a little subdued, even for me."
"Great, we'll go to Sherwin Williams tomorrow. I have class on Monday. Will you be okay here?" She asked. I didn't go to regular school, I did my work online. I tried public school, then private school. It never worked. I was either picked on endlessly, or the teacher didn't even acknowledge me because of my quiet nature.
"I'll be fine. I'll do some school work, explore the house. It'll be fun." I was being honest, too. A whole house to myself sounded like my kind of heaven.
"Well, alright. The movers should be here in the morning. I'm going to unpack my suitcases." With that, she left for the master bedroom and I was left alone in mine. I began unloading my carry on bag of books and setting them on the built in shelf in the wall that jutted out ever so slightly against the left most wall. I hummed along to the song playing through my ear phones.
"D-o-l-l-h-o-u-s-e, I see things that nobody else sees..."
I sang along. I heard a faint knock through the haunting voice in my ears and turned towards the door. I expected my mom, but instead, I saw a boy. He was tall and slim. Dirty blond hair fell in slight curls across his eyes. He was pale, the chocolate of his irises protested against his light skin. His clothes reminded me of Kurt Cobain. A red flannel was unbuttoned to reveal a simple gray t-shirt underneath. His jeans were ripped at the knees and wrinkled. His shy smile revealed dimples in his cheeks.
"You have a pretty voice." He murmured. His voice was like butter. My stomach fluttered at the sound, but I clamped my lips into a tight line.
"Who are you? Why are you in my room?" I demanded, folding my arms over my chest. I wasn't really angry. New people, especially cute new people, made me uncomfortable.
His smile faltered only slightly, and a sadness crept into his eyes. "My name is Tate...I live next door, I didn't mean to bother you..." He turned to leave, and I found myself calling out to him.
"Wait, do you like books?" I asked softly. He turned back around to me, his smile painted back onto his beautiful face.
"Yeah, I like books."