Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Four hours have passed since Mia woke up from her dream. She sighed as she found herself staring at the messaging app before her. When she noticed that there hadn't been a response for a while, the girl opened the contacts app and went to the second entry in her address book.
A little further away, Olivia looked up at the hoop that was in front of her. The last time she tried this didn't go so well. This time, she had to get it right, for the sake of her boyfriend (who was watching from a few feet away).
"Go ahead and shoot it. It's okay. The hoop's not going to bite."
The last time Kenton said this, Olivia just wanted to take that ball and toss it at his head. Figuring that she had girlfriend privileges, she turned around and flung it towards him. With lightning-fast reflexes, the basketball player reached up and stopped the ball by catching it in his hands.
"What? Was you going for my head?"
Olivia smiled and scratched the back of her head and replied "Well, I figured one of the benefits of us being a couple would be me being able to hurt you when you say something silly."
"Oh, talking about being friends with benefits now?"
"Ha, ha, funny."
It was then that Olivia noticed the vibrations of the phone in her pocket. She pulled it out and answered it as soon as she saw who it was.
Kenton noticed that Olivia's facial expression turned odd. This was, by far, the most cheerful that Mia had ever been since before Elias's passing.
"Not much. You're sounding... really happy."
"Yeah, I'm feeling pretty good today."
"Well, that's good."
"So, you wanna hang out somewhere?"
This was almost scaring Olivia. It might just be for a minute or for an hour, but for now the old Mia was back in action.
"Well, I'm over at Kenton's. I guess you could come over if you want."
Kenton's eyes widened. Being Mia's friend, he wanted to see her happy, but at the same time he couldn't help but remember the fact that the last time he saw her resulted in cheek pain.
Olivia finished the conversation and hung up the phone. "Oh, I'm so sorry, Kenton. I should have asked you if it was okay since it's your house!"
"Oh, now we're being polite again? What happened to wanting to hit me in the head?"
"Oh, shut up."
"You shut up."
"No, you first."
"But I insist."
The two of them found themselves laughing at the playful argument they were having. The two of them continued to talk until they heard a bike coming down the street.
"Hey, you made it!"
"No thanks to you! The whole time you've been dating him you've not once told me that he lives here!" Mia's eyes widened and she covered her mouth as she realized that she might have let something slip. Olivia laughed and replied "It's okay. He knows."
Kenton could only give his new(?) girlfriend a look that said "Really?" before walking over to Mia and taking a deep breath.
"Mia... I just want to say that... I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking clearly when I introduced you to Cameron. I know that you're hurting and seeing that must've made you feel like..."
Mia closed her eyes and shook her head. "You don't have to apologize. If anything, I'm the one who should be sorry for using the ol' slapper on you."
"So... are we friends again?" Kenton asked as he extended his hand. Mia looked at the hand, then up at his eyes, and down again as she reached out. She grabbed the hand and used it to pull him into a hug. "I should be asking the same thing." she said as he returned the gesture.
"We're just so glad to see that you're feeling better." Olivia said. Mia broke off the hug with Kenton and went over and wrapped her arms the person who probably deserved it more.
"Thank you for being there for me at the video store, Olivia."
"Thank you for keeping yourself together as well as you did."
"I couldn't have done it without you. You're like the big sister I've never had."
"Stop it. You're going to make me cry."
"But it's true."
Kenton watched this as he heard someone say into his ear "Looks like I got here at the right time."
Olivia and Mia broke off their hug and noticed that Cameron was now standing next to Kenton. Olivia silently groaned as she wasn't sure if his presence would ruin the good mood that Mia was in.
On noticing Cameron, Mia looked down at the ground and said "Hey."
"Hey." Cameron replied as he seemed to be staring at the same blade of grass that she was. Kenton and Olivia exchanged confused looks.
Down the street and around the corner, Charmaine was walking out of the kitchen and looking out over the dining room. It had a decent amount of people enjoying their lunches while the waitress on duty moved hastily from table to table.
"Hey, did you hear that about that kid who got his head caved in at the park a month ago?"
Charmaine's head perked up and she grabbed a rag and acted like she was cleaning the large plate-glass window near the two elderly gentlemen that were talking.
"No, what happened to him? I heard that the punk that nailed him gave himself the ol' Mr. Sparky."
Several of the other patrons of the restaurant looked up as Charmaine sighed and let her head rest on the pane of glass.
"Well, the boy's home now."
"That's good. He's a hearty fellow. It's good for the survival of the fittest. We need that after everything went awry in Illinois four years back."
"What is his name? Who's his family?"
"Oh... what was it again? Ah, the Spears family. William Spears."
"Spears ... Spears..." Charmaine mumbled as she walked back into the kitchen and to a small little writing desk that she used as her "office". She scribbled the name on a piece of paper. There was something about that last name that stood out to her.
Back at Kenton's house, the four of them tried to figure out exactly what to do for the day.
"How about a two-on-two game of basketball?"
"I would rather not. I'm exhausted." Olivia said as she acted like she was daintily fanning herself.
"Because all of those not-baskets you made tired you out?"
"Shut up, Kenton."
"Wow, you two are like a married couple." Cameron bluntly pointed out.
"Actually, you kinda are. I used to bicker like that with..." Mia started to say before hitting reality once again.
"How about a movie?" Kenton then quickly suggested to try to get Mia's mind off the situation.
"From where? The video store?" Olivia said quietly. Realizing his faux pas, Kenton nervously tugged at his collar and did some quick thinking.
"Well, we have that on-demand stuff on the cable box. Maybe we could find something there?"
"Well, I'm down for that, I guess." Olivia said, just relieved that the activities turned to being indoors just as the sun was starting to get warm.
"Sound good to you two?"
"Actually... I think I'm going to go..."
"Oh, Mia! Are you sure?" Olivia rapidly interjected. It appears that the roller coaster of emotions had peaked in Mia's mind and was about to go over the edge. Mia nodded and stood up before walking away.
"Damn it." Olivia uttered under her breath. Kenton shook his head in defeat.
"I tried, Olivia. I really did."
"I know. It's nothing that you did. I guess it's hard to figure out what's going to set her off."
"Well, the first time she talked to him was in a video store. Maybe that's a possible trigger?" Cameron suggested.
"I guess I'm going to head out, too. Enjoy your movie, lovebirds!"
"Catch you later, Cameron?"
Cameron got up and walked away in the same direction that Mia headed.
"Bro?" Olivia said as she looked at Kenton with a raised eyebrow.
"Yeah, I guess it's a term of endearment or something with him."
Cameron found himself whistling as he walked up the street. After turning a corner, he noticed Mia propped up against the same mailbox that she kicked the other day. Not wanting to provoke her, he walked on by and kept going.
Cameron turned around and looked at Mia as she walked over to him.
"Was it... really, you that I talked to this morning?"
"You went away for a half-hour around ten-thirty to take a shower. Is that proof enough?"
"Well, that's right. So, it's really you."
"Was that all that you were wanting to know?"
"Um... I was wanting to know if you still wanted to hang out?"
"Hmm... Yeah, I can."
Cameron smiled and placed a hand on her shoulder. The two of them took off down the road.
"We spent all morning talking about me. Why don't we talk about you?"
"Uh, sure, I guess."
"Are you new here? Do you go to school here?"
"Oh, I've lived in the area for a while."
"Really? I haven't seen you around!"
"You're in middle school, right?"
"Well, yes. You'd be in the same school, right? If you've been here for years, how come I never seen you before?"
Cameron gave her a confused look.
"Um... well, I spent sixth grade being homeschooled, but that went out the window. I'll be starting middle school soon."
"What?! You look like you're older than me!"
"Nope, I'm twelve. You're fourteen, right?"
"Well, we both suck at guessing ages then!"
The two of them crossed a street and Mia stopped to look at a house with two boarded up front windows and a padlock on the chain-link fence surrounding the house.
"What is it?" Cameron said as he gazed across the unkempt and disgusting yard.
"This was where Elias lived."
"Yeah, I know."
Mia turned to the younger boy and asked, "How do you do know?"
"Well… uh… I saw it on the news."
"What do you think's going to happen to it?"
"Let's see... I guess that they've finished whatever investigation that they've done as there's no 'Crime Scene' tape on the porch."
"Yeah... the case was probably open-and-shut."
"At this point, they are likely going to sell the property for dirt cheap."
"Who would buy a house like this? What could someone find good about this house?"
"Let's find out."
Mia turned to see what Cameron meant just in time to see him grabbing the fence and climbing over.
"Cameron! What are you doing?"
"Finding out. Are you coming?"
Mia looked to the left and right before grabbing the fence and hopping over to join him.
The two of them ran up to the front door of the house. To eliminate the obvious, Cameron tried to open the door via the doorknob. Seeing that it was locked, he noticed that the door was simply secured with a typical door lock.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. Mia watched as he pulled out a set of lock-picks that were small enough to fit in a credit-card pocket and worked the lock open.
"That's a little scary..." she said as the two of them walked into the living room and looked around.
"I have an older brother that likes to lock me out of the house. I learned how to do that at a young age."
The two of them noticed that the air in the living room was stale and the house was dark except for the small bits of light coming in from behind the curtains. Both Mia and Cameron got out their smart phones and used the flashlight app.
"You come prepared, too?" Cameron said as he smirked.
"Of course." Mia said, trying to shake off the fact that she was now in the building where her boyfriend spent the last few moments of his life.
"So, where do you think they...?" Cameron said as they looked moved from the living room and into the kitchen.
"I don't know..."
"You know, it's like we're crime scene investigators. Like the ones on television."
The two "investigators" walked into a bathroom that was just off the kitchen. The room was filthy and looked like it had been torn apart as if it was being searched for something.
"I think... this was where they did it." Cameron said as he shined the light around the room.
"Shall we go upstairs?" Cameron asked as he opened another door that led into the foyer where there was a staircase. Mia followed up as he climbed the stairs.
When they reached the top, Mia opened the first door and peeked inside. It was another bathroom was kept almost immaculate outside of the dust that had accumulated throughout the previous month.
Cameron left the next door and blinked before closing it. He took a couple seconds to catch his breath and his composure as Mia walked over to him.
"What's in there?"
"Don't, Mia. You don't want to go in there."
"Is that... his room... where he..."
Cameron nodded and stepped aside with the knowledge that she was going to go in there regardless of any warnings that he could give her. She slowly opened the door and, in an instant, knew exactly what happened and why Cameron trying to talk her out of going in there.
The desk where Elias's computer used to be was long gone, confiscated by the authorities to link or unlink him from his parents' activities. The desk where he was sitting was still intact, complete with the robot that he was working on for Kenton's birthday. She had seen it in pictures many times, but this was the first time that she saw it in person. The desk sat a few feet away from the corner of Elias's bed.
She now knew that it wasn't the electricity that killed him. The shock must've thrown him back and the back of his head landed right on the rounded bedpost. The dried blood on the stripped mattress and the bedpost made that much clear. The thought that he spent the last seconds of his life in pain and agony from that caused her to tear up. Cameron heard her gasp and knew that the waterworks weren't that far behind.
"I'll just leave you alone." he said as he stepped out of the room and down the hallway. Against common sense, she walked a few steps further into the room. She got a closer look at his desk and noticed that there were things attached to the wall. She opened the flashlight app and almost dropped it when she saw what was on the wall.
One picture had Elias and Kenton standing in front of the arcade machine that they tested out. Another was him on stage at the talent show after being awarded the trophy. Then there was a gap where it looked like another photo once was but had since disappeared. After that was the one that brought her into full-blown sobbing. It was a printed selfie of Elias with her in front of the TV after one of the many days that they wasted just playing video games.
"I'm so sorry... I'm so..." she quietly said as she sat down on a corner of his bed. Even after her dream the previous night, she wasn't a complete believer in ghosts. However, some part of her was secretly wishing that even a ghostly arm would wrap around her shoulder and comfort her.
After what Cameron could swear was an eternity, she stood up and started to leave the room. However, she stopped and walked back to the desk. She gently plucked the photo with her in it and held decided to take it with her.
"Ready to go?" Cameron said as she walked back into the hallway. Mia nodded and the two of them left out of the front door and hopped back over the fence.
"Are you going to be okay?" Cameron asked when he noticed that Mia's eyes were puffy from crying. Mia didn't respond.
"Maybe going inside wasn't the best idea..." he thought aloud. Mia shook her head and suddenly wrapped her arm around him to give him a hug.
"It's exactly what I needed. Thank you."
"Well, I'm glad that I was able to help. So, see you around?"
Mia nodded and the two went their separate ways.
Back at Kenton's house, Charmaine (having a bit of time to kill before having to prep for the dinner shift) opened the front door and walked in. Whatever movie was watching was apparently boring as Kenton's head was leaning back while Olivia's was on his shoulder and both were quietly snoring.
At the sound of the door closing, both jolted awake and looked at her. "Hey, you two!" she said as she set a couple grocery bags on the counter.
"Hi, Ms. Hayes!"
"Kenton, help me put these groceries away."
Kenton nodded, hopped up, and scurried over to the counter as Olivia got up and headed towards the bathroom.
"What were you two doing?"
"Watching a movie!"
"With your eyes shut?"
"Yeah, it was kinda boring."
"Young man, there's something we need to talk about now that you're getting older."
Uh oh. Kenton was no fool; he knew exactly where this conversation was going.
"When a young man gets to be your age, he has to realize that he's got certain responsibilities in life."
"And when I come in and see what I see, I think the worst and I know that I can't stop you because sometimes you're just not in control of certain things."
"I just want to let you know that pay-per-view on-demand TV is expensive."
"Yeah, I know that you rented a movie. I have it set up to alert me on my phone. Boy, I can't have you renting ten-dollar movies just to have you fall asleep in the middle of them! When you rent a movie, you better make sure you watch it!"
"...Okay. Can do. Thanks, Mom."
"It's okay. Now, try to find something good on the non-premium TV while I do a little 'homework'. Next time I find out that you rented a ten-dollar movie again, you better take notes because there's gonna be a quiz!"
Olivia walked back into the room as Charmaine grabbed a little notebook out of her purse before walking into her bedroom.
"What was that all about? Does she think that we're...?"
"She didn't like that we fell asleep during a pay-per-view show. That's all."
"I know, right?"
The two of them sat back down on the couch as Kenton continued thumbing through channels.
"You know, Olivia, something just didn't seem right about Cameron..."
"How did he know that Mia and Elias first spoke to each other at the video store?"
"You didn't tell him?"
The two looked at each other with raised eyebrows. Meanwhile, Charmaine was sure that she had saw William's last name before... but where? She had a stack of yearbooks open and she was going through the pictures of the previous years at the elementary school. When she got to the fourth-grade pictures, she did a double take as her finger arrived at a certain picture of two boys standing with the local elementary school mascot.
"William Spears, grade 4, poses with his younger brother, Cameron Elder."