I stumble up the three cement steps. The flower pot that is always blooming has died off and the flowers are brown and have molded into a crusted position. Across the street Mom’s bedroom light is still off. The morning fog hovers above the street, like a blanket keeping away the cold. I wish I could slip underneath it and fall asleep.
My finger presses the yellow button. The sound echos through the house. Footsteps draw closer. My breath freezes in front of me and stays there until I blow it away.
The door locks shuffle around inside.
“Hi Mr. Hanks, can I come in?”
“Oh, um. Of course, come in.” He steps back, and tightens his brown bathrobe. I shuffle inside awkwardly.
The kitchen is bright, old, and musty. There are dirty mugs and plates lining the counter, old coffee, and newspapers everywhere. He clears the table and gestures for me to sit.
“I’m so sorry for intruding so early in the morning, Mr. Hanks.”
He waves his hand as if it was nothing. “I’ve been up since two.”
I sigh. “Yeah, me too.”
“So Olivia, what is the matter? Unless of course, you just felt obligated to come say hello to your old neighbor at six in the morning.” He winks at me. I smile back.
“There has been some… well… odd things going on yesterday night. I wasn’t sure who to talk to, so I just thought… you know, I’d talk to you.” I shift in my seat.
“You know Olivia, I’m surprised you didn’t come over here sooner. Would you like coffee?” He pulls two green mugs out of the top cabinet.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“I asked if you wanted coffee.”
“No. Well, yes. But what did you say before that?”
“Oh. I said, I’m surprised you didn’t come over here sooner.”
“But… why? I don’t understand.”
“Olivia, have you been hearing those weird, weird sounds outside lately?”
Mr. Hanks sets my coffee in front of me. The steam rises and swirls together just like all the crazy ideas racing through my head.
“I suggest you and your mother stay… well cautious, at least for the time being. Maybe stay home from school for a few days. Until things, well… settle out. Do you understand?”
I swallow the lump in my throat, but it doesn’t go away.
“You should get home before your mother wakes up. Mellissa will panic if she wakes up and you’re gone.
Mr. Hanks words run through my head. ‘Weird noises…outside… stay cautious… ’ I run home, through the front gate, up the porch steps, and into my bed.
* * * * * * * * *
“Olivia? Honey? What’s going on? Are you Okay?” I sit up. All foggy headed. Mom is sitting next to me. Her hand on my forehead.
“Mom.” I whisper. “Something is very wrong.”
She brushes the hair out of my face. “I know Olivia. I know.”