The Boy Next Door

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Cecilia Richardson awoke to the constant pounding on her bedroom door. It increased in its intensity as she slid from her bed. From the other side she heard her mother's annoying voice.

"Cecilia, get up. You're father's leaving for work in a couple of minutes."

She didn't understand why her mother wanted her to see her father off. She opened the door and shot her mother an evil yet tired stare.

"I made breakfast." Her mother stood in the doorway, wearing an apron that looked straight out of a Betty Crocker manual. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail and a streak of flour ran across her right cheek. "How many pancakes do you want?"

"Seriously?" Cecilia rubbed her eye. "Mom, you look ridiculous in that outfit." She expected her mother to turn irate. Instead the smile didn't waver from her face.

"It's too early to start this. Now get up. You're not going to sleep until noon." She turned and walked back to the kitchen.

Cecilia peaked out from her bedroom and watched her father, dressed in a business suit with a black and white checkered tie, sitting at the kitchen table. He sipped quietly from his coffee mug while skimming through his cell phone. She took zombie like footsteps into the living room and watched as mother frantically moved back and forth from the kitchen to her father.

"You're going to brush your teeth first before you eat, right?" her mother asked.

"No mom. I thought I'd do something different today," Cecilia replied sarcastically.

"Don't start that tone with me. I don't need any of your lip."

Since moving to Athemore, her mother had attempted to distance themselves from the environment they left behind in San Diego. She dealt with settling into their new quiet suburban neighborhood by spending his hard earned money. Yesterday she bought expensive black and white furniture and matching black and white photographs. Last week she purchased brand new placemats for their black polished dining room table. Her father never said a word about her ridiculous shopping sprees and her attempt to get rid of anything that gave off a "bad vibe."

Yet neither of them asked how she felt about the move.

They didn't allow her to have her say. They gave her a week to say goodbye to her friends and her boyfriend, Glenn who she missed terribly. Now that he wasn't around, she had no one else to vent her frustrations to.

Mr. Richardson gulped the last drops of his coffee. "I have to go." He grabbed his suitcase and headed to the front door.

"What time will you be home?" Mrs. Richardson dried her hands on a soaked dishtowel.

"Around six." He kissed her on the cheek and rushed out the door.

Cecilia dragged her feet along the carpet and over to the dining room. "So you woke me up just to watch him eat?" She stared at the half eaten eggs and pieces of bacon left on her father's plate.

"Today is your father's first day at work." Her mother wiped down the kitchen counter. "Plus I thought we could have some quality time together, just you and me." She placed the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and when finished, she draped her apron over the handle on the stove.

"I'll pass if you don't mind." Cecilia turned around and headed back to her bedroom. In her closet she grabbed a pack of cigarettes tucked behind a stack of board games on the top shelf. Afterwards, she headed out through the front door.

It took some time for her eyes to adjust to the sun's glare. She sat on the concrete footsteps and examined her new neighborhood. All the houses looked the same to her with their white and tan façades, mowed front yards, and neatly trimmed green grass. Every house had flower pots placed on their front steps. Any screen door not properly secured swung back and forth in the slight wind. She also didn't see any cars parked along the streets. She heard kids yelling and playing down the street.

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