chapter four| broken things

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The stories stopped coming on October 27, 1960. Finn remembered silly things like that. He remembered that date because it was the day Jack stopped talking to him. It was quite a random event, he felt, but suddenly one day, Jack wanted nothing to do with him. After waiting at the tree house for several hours and seeing that no new stories had been put up, Finn had scrambled home. Jack had been fast asleep, and Finn decided it was best not to wake her. He even decided to go to school early the next day to surprise her with cookies his mother made the day before.

But Jack never came.

She usually stayed for lunch, just for a few minutes, so she could talk to Finn. That day, she never came, and after that, Finn rarely saw Jack. He'd wait for her when he could so they could walk to school but she was never there. She'd even cut her long hair, choppily so, which surprised him because Jack took immense pride in her hair. The window facing his room was always shut and covered with drapes for some reason, and every time he'd go over to her house, Jack was never there. Finn swore he saw her shadow but each time Mrs. Chow would shake her head and tell him that Jack wasn't home.

The summer of 1965 came with much anticipation, as Finn was eager to play more baseball rather than be stuck inside. Now that he was seventeen years old, his parents granted him more freedom. This meant that he was even permitted to use the car. However, Finn still preferred his mode of transportation to be a bike. Even though many years had passed, Finn sometimes found himself staring at Jack's bedroom window, wondering what she was doing.

It was on one such occasion that Finn found himself staring out his open window at the room across from him, sighing deeply. Friday let out a bark when she realized Finn had stopped paying attention to her.

"Okay fine," Finn muttered. "I am staring, but that's okay, right? It's normal?" The beagle cocked her head to the side, and Finn groaned. "You're right, it's creepy."

Friday seemed to say, "I don't care about your issues; I want to play." She nudged a baseball towards Finn, who picked it up.

"Can't play fetch with a baseball, girl," Finn said fondly, scratching the back of her head. Finn stood from his bed, bouncing excitedly. "Guess what, Friday! Next week, Tommy and the rest of us are going up North to the beach! How fun is that?" Finn started miming a pitch. "I have to work on my throws, Coach says I'm the best he's seen but he's surely exaggerating. What do you think?"

Friday barked in approval.

"Yeah, I think so too." Finn wound up. "I just need to make sure that for our first game I strike all the players out before they even get on the field!" College was close thought, forever invading his mind when Finn expected it the least. He hated it but knew he had to keep it in his thoughts. Finn imagined himself on the mound, reeling back and throwing the ball so fast, nobody could even see it. The crowd held their breath, while the stadium lights beat down on him as everyone watched with anticipation. The ball finally left his hand, flying straight past the batter and into the catcher's mi-

CRASH!

Finn opens his eyes, startled when he finds the baseball he once held, was most definitely not in his hands. To his horror, it was in the room across from his, the baseball-sized hole in Jack's window proof of Finn's stupidity.

"I left the window open..." Finn whispered to himself, horrified.

Friday barked, seemingly saying, "You also broke her window, you idiot."

"Finn! What happened?" his mother screamed from below. Finn and Friday share a panicked look as Finn ran down the stairs. "Finn! Where are you going? What was that noise?"

"Glass..." Finn said tentatively.

"Did you break something again?" Mrs. Wrangley huffed, setting down her spatula. "How many times have I told you not to play fetch with Friday in your bedroom?"

"Nothing broke in mine," Finn said quietly. Mrs. Wrangley gasped, the implication dawning on her. "I broke Jack's window."

"Finn Bryant Wrangley!" Mrs. Wrangley chided. "You better not have done that on purpose! Lord knows the poor family gets their fair share of nastiness, and I've raised you to be better than that!"

"Mom, it wasn't on purpose, I swear!" Finn cried.

"Go over and apologize!" Mrs. Wrangley instructed. "Be sure to include that you will do anything, and I do mean anything, to make it up to them."

Finn doesn't waste time, rushing out the door and sprinting over to Jack's house. He politely knocks, bouncing up and down with nerves. Mrs. Chow opened the door, smiling pleasantly as she always did. Her dark, shiny hair was cut at the shoulders, reflecting the current style. She was a reserved and polite woman, always looking to make others happy.

"Ah, Finn, nice to see you," she greeted. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"

"Mrs. Chow, you look lovely," Finn said politely. "See, there may have been an accident involving Jack's window and my baseball, and I wanted to apologize profusely. I'm-"

"Accident?" Mrs. Chow asked, confused. "Jack hasn't said anything. Jack!" Mrs. Chow shouted, and after a few moments, the sound of feet padding down the stairs reached Finn's ears. He became eerily still as Jack came into view. Her hair was in a ponytail and she was wearing jeans stained with different colored paints. Jack said nothing, quietly handing her mother the baseball and going back upstairs. Seeing her sent a pang of nostalgia through Finn. He truly did miss being friends with her. Her mere presence sent a flood of memories through him.

"It was an accident," Finn explained but Mrs. Chow laughed.

"I'm aware, but thank you for apologizing," Mrs. Chow said sweetly. "Can I get you anything to drink? It's extremely hot outside."

"Oh, no thank you," Finn declined. "But if there's anything I can do to make it up to you, please let me know."

Mrs. Chow thought for a second. "Well, there is one thing I need," Mrs. Chow said.

"Anything," Finn promised.

"Years ago, Mr. Chow had this bookshelf put in, and I can't move it by myself," Mrs.Chow explained. "Jack and I can't seem to lift it together either. If you come by this afternoon, maybe we could all give it a try!"

Finn failed to hide a grin. "What time would you like me here by?"

"Five seems like an acceptable time, does it not?" Mrs. Chow asked. "I know you're a busy young man, and it is summer, so I don't want to take up much of your time."

"Oh, it's no problem, Mrs. Chow," Finn said, backing away. "I'll be over by five!" He jogged back over to his house and found his mother looking through her recipe book, trying to find something to make for the Chow family.

"Can I help?" Finn asked.

Mrs. Wrangley rolled her eyes. "Seeing as you're the reason I'm making the apology cookies, yes, you should help." Friday barked in agreement, a smirk playing at the dog's lips.

Finn simply grinned, winking at his dog.

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