The Space Between Us(4)By: Anie Michaels
The field was probably meant to be used for sports like soccer or football, but there were no goals or bleachers on the sidelines, just grass. There was a trail that went around the field made of bark dust and looked like it might be used for running. There was only one cut-through in the fence along this side of the property. The fence backed up against a row of houses, some of which you could see into the backyards. Most of them had big bushes that made it hard to see anything besides the roofs. The cut-through was lined by trees and covered in gravel. It was only about fifty feet long, but it felt like a tunnel. Once you were inside you were secluded, shrouded by trees and bushes. Treetops canopied the walkway and tall shrubs on either side boxed you in.
Once you came out the other side, you were just plopped right into a neighborhood. You could either go left or right. My new house, if I remembered, was on the left. I took the turn and noticed that Asher was walking ahead of me, about a half block up the street. I watched him as he came to a stop in front of my house, looking up at the blue two-story house my dad had bought without even seeing it. My grandparents lived in Willow Brook, so they had been able to check it out for him, but still, it was a little crazy. Asher only stood there for a few seconds and then continued down the street, turning right at the end of the block continuing on the sidewalk. Maybe he had known the family who lived in the house before us and missed whoever had been there. That made me think about my friends back home, and I wondered if they were missing me. Maybe Dad would let me use his cell phone to call Lucy after dinner.
The house was empty when I opened the door - empty of everything. Hardly anything was unpacked so there were no pictures hanging on the wall, no dishes in the cupboards, but even more disturbing to me was how empty the house was of any feeling. I was so used to my old house; it held all my memories. So many memories. I remembered baking cookies with my mom, rolling out sugar cookie dough on the island that sat in the middle of the kitchen. I remembered her flattening the dough with the rolling pin, blowing her brown hair out of her face, smiling at me, pretending not to see me sneaking pieces of dough into my mouth. This new kitchen meant nothing to me, held no memories. I'll never hear my mother's laugh in this kitchen or play monopoly with Lucy.
I turned from the empty room and went up the stairs to my bedroom which, thankfully, was at least partly put together. My dad had been sure to get to my room first. I collapsed on my bed and must have fallen asleep because the next thing I heard was the doorbell ringing. At least, I assumed it was the doorbell. My old house's doorbell rang once, a single chime. This doorbell went on forever and sounded like a grandfather clock. It rang the entire time I walked to the front door. I was so irritated by the obnoxious bells that I swung the door open with more force than necessary. I was surprised to see Asher standing on the other side.
“Oh, hi,” I said, caught off guard by the sight of him on the porch.
“Hi. My mom made these and asked me to bring them over. She wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood.”
I looked down at the plate he handed me and tried really hard not to let it show on my faced how upsetting it was to get a plate of homemade cookies from his mother. I took them and thanked him, manners always won out.
“Did you know the family that lived here before me?” I asked him, trying to get my mind off the fact that he had a mother who made cookies and how unfair it suddenly seemed.
“Yeah, my best friend Trace lived here. His Dad's job transferred him all the way to Minnesota so they moved. My mom said that maybe someday I could go and visit him over summer vacation.”
“That sucks that he moved, but it's cool that your mom would let you go see him,” I offered.
“Yeah,” he said but then paused. “Is your head ok? You know, from earlier?” My hand automatically moved to rub the small bump that had formed where the rock hit me.
“Yeah, it's no big deal. Thanks again for stopping him.”
“I saw you made friends with Reeve.” I shrugged.
“She seems nice. She talks a lot.” He laughed at my comment.
“That she does. But you get use to her, I guess.” He rocked back and forth on his heels a few times and I stood there, not really sure what else there was to say. “Well, I walk to school every morning so if you want, you can walk with me.”