Food: What’s for breakfast? Dinner? Lunch? Or maybe you could write a poem about that time you met a friend at a cafe.
We felt welcomed. There wasn’t any sort of doubt in that. The Jamisons were nice people for the most part, and this was the first time they had actually invited us over. My friend Doug told me that the Jamisons had lived in the neighborhood for over 4 years now and no one had ever gone over to their house. Although, he did mention some sort of old-folk tale about the Jamisons and how they used to live in England and moved here after they were ran out of the country by a cult or some nonsensical madness like that. I didn’t believe a word of what he said and to be fair, I don’t think he believed a word of it either, but that didn’t stop him from sharing it with me everyday leading up to the dinner.
My family wasn’t too worried either. My parents thought they were nice people and they were happy know that the normally shy and reclusive Jamisons were actually trusting our family and inviting us over. They viewed it like a kind of honor in a sense, not sure why. My sister, on the other hand, was not excited about the dinner at all. She had talked to the Jamison’s daughter in school, Natasha, once before and described it as “discussing nuclear science with a house-cat.” She had no interest in befriending Natasha and feared that this dinner was a way of getting our families to bond so that Natasha could find a friend in school, as mentioned before, she was quite lonely in school and after-school. Although I never got to talk to Natasha, I know my sister could be a jerk sometimes and I had always thought Natasha was kinda cute in a quirky kind of way; so, I was looking forward to getting the chance to speak with her even if my sister wasn’t interested.
The dinner was tomorrow, but before then, Nikolai wanted to give me some advice on how to handle the situation. We planned to meet after dinner at the neighborhood park, which is about 10 minutes from my house and about 10 minutes from his house. It was the perfect meeting spot to be honest. Our parents didn’t like us sneaking out late, but it was easy to just hop out my window and sneak over to the park for an hour or so and just come back inside. There was always this sweet-spot of time, just after dinner, where my mom and dad would sit on the couch and watch some odd soap-opera type show that had they glued to the TV for the entire hour, and the best part was it didn’t have commercial breaks, so I knew they wouldn’t bother checking up on me unless I screamed or some jive like that, but to be fair, I never did that dance, they knew I liked my personal space after dinner, and I mean, hell, what 15 year old would want to be with their parents after dinner watching some sappy, laugh-track ridden, nonsense that only adults found funny.
My room was perfect for sneaking out late at night. I was on the second story of the house, but the window in my room and the roof were connected, so I could easily just hop out of my window and walk on the roof of the house that was directly above of the garage. The jump was from only one-story, so I stuck the landing every time. I packed my usual bag: a flashlight, some chewing gum, a knife (just in-case), my cellphone, and some spare rope that I never found a use for but Nikolai always told me to bring “just in case,” but I never knew what that case included. I quietly left my room and closed my window. I did the usual jump and landed it with a perfect ’10.’ Before I ran out towards the park, I looked back into the living room window and saw my mom and dad watching the show like no one was watching them. It gave me an odd sensation, like they were a show that I was watching, like I was the viewer in their world just as they were the viewer of the lives’ of the soap opera stars. This left me feeling strange. I sort of enjoyed the feeling I got while watching them. It made sense why they watch so much TV now.
I carried-on towards the typical meeting spot, but as I was, I couldn’t help but notice all the vibrant lights coming from the windows of houses that were filled with families and single people doing what it is they do behind closed doors. In my brain I started to think of it like channels on a television. It was a funny feeling that left me sort of fanatical until I laughed unprovoked. It was difficult to ignore the temptations, but I knew that Nikolai was expecting me. So I hurried on my way.
The park was pretty standard, or to be fair, it just looks like every other park I’ve been to; rusty looking swing-set where one of the 3 swings is broken but that doesn’t stop the kids from using it, a slide that boils the bottom on hot days, monkey bars that probably have blood-stains on them, and a small looking jungle-gym that has jagged edges from loosed metal bars that are horribly dangerous for any kid, but hey, I’ve seen parents drop their kids off here and not come back for hours, so, if they don’t care, then I don’t care. Our typical meeting spot was inside of the jungle-gym, I normally beat him there, but tonight was different because of my frequent stops staring at houses.
“Bruvi, where have you been? You’re late.”
“Sorry, man. I was caught up at home. The scene was too hot for me to leave the house on time. Parents kept checking-up on me.”
Nikolai pulled out his bag and started riffling through some tattered notebooks.
“Sure, sure. I get you. Here.” Nikolai grabbed a red notebook out and handed it over to Bruvi.
“What is this?” Bruvi grabbed the notebook and started to flip through it.
Nikolai pointed at the front of the notebook instructing Bruvi to look at the title of the notebook: Natasha Jamison.
Nikolai threw his hands in the air. “Dude, Natasha Jamison. I got you the rundown on her like you asked me to.”
Bruvi stared at Nikolai confused, “I didn’t ask you to do that for me.”
Nikolai turned around and walked to the edge of the jungle-gym. “No, you didn’t, but. That’s a hard but by the way. But, you need to prepare yourself before you go over to her house and have dinner with her family.”
“Nikolai, I don’t think that whole British cult thing is real, man.”
“What? Dude, you cannot not believe in that. It’s real, man. Look at this.” Nikolai took the notebook from Bruvi and flipped to a page with a printed newspaper article. “Look at this, man. It’s a newspaper article from a small town in Wallingham, England at a family that escaped a cult and fled for asylum in America. Coincident? I… think… not.”
Bruvi took the notebook back and exited the jungle-gym. He began to put the notebook into his book-bag and walked away.
“Bruvi! Read the notebook! Be careful!”
I ignored what Nikolai was telling me and just continued my walk home. The meeting wasn’t long, I wasn’t interested in hearing Nikolai’s nonsense tonight. I wasn’t in the mood. I looked at my phone and I noticed that there was still 30 minutes left on the show my parents were watching. I had some time before I needed to run home to cover my tracks. It was there when I had a strange idea, when everything that happened today led me to think about the next few steps that were about to take place.
The lighting was beauty, and I felt myself drawn to it. There was something more than just curiosity that lured me to the window of the Jamison’s house. I didn’t feel strange or sinister walking up to there window, because, well, I knew what my intentions were… I was just… I was just curious as to what they were doing, nothing more, and I guess, nothing less. There was something they were doing in there and I just had to find out what it was.
I positioned myself near a large bush outside of their side window and peered my head in front of the illuminating glass that felt to me like a gypsy staring into a crystal ball. It was amazing to me, it wasn’t sexual, it wasn’t sinister, it was just blissful to me. I watched Mr. and Mrs. Jamison watching the same soap that my parents watch this time of night, and that made me give a sigh of relief and I’m not sure why. Maybe because it made them seem much more human like my family and myself, or maybe I was just enjoying watching them through the window. Seeing them made me wonder what exactly it was that Nikolai wrote on the notebook that was so concerning to me that I needed to know before my family came by for dinner. I blew off the idea and watched the Jamisons for a bit longer before Natasha came downstairs and started to watch the soap with her parents as well. I smiled and I don’t know why.
It might have been about 10 minutes before I finally decided to get up and go home. The force that drew me to the window was even more powerful at keeping me there but the thought of getting in trouble was more powerful, and leaving was the obvious thing that I needed to do. Before I left, I watched them for a few seconds longer. The same thing; the same feeling.
I wondered my way home quickly as possibly and climbed up the side of the house and through the window. The show would end in about 5 minutes and all seemed good. I had a few minutes to burn before it was time for bed, so I opened up the notebook that Nikolai gave me and flipped through the pages. The notebook was odd and it didn’t seem like it was Nikolai who had wrote it. It seemed like it was written by several different people and not just Nikolai; in-fact, it didn’t seem like it was written by Nikolai at all. The information on the notebook seemed much more personal and private and almost childish and adventurous.
After flipping through page and page and reading entries and dates of various things, it finally dawned on Bruvi that this was actually Natasha’s diary. Bruvi quickly closed the notebook and put it back in his bag. Bruvi wondered how Nikolai got a-hold of diary and quickly texted him asking for an answer.
“Dude, this is Natasha’s diary. Where the hell did you get this?”
Nikolai replied almost instantaneously almost as if he was waiting for the message.
“Read the last page.”
Bruvi felt a bit eerie as he flipped through the pages until he got to the last page. His heart dropped when read what it was Nikolai felt such nerve over.
I can’t wait to have dinner with Bruvi and his family.
Bruvi tweaked his head and questioned the value of this statement aside from the obvious.
“What about the last page? It doesn’t seem any bit strange to me.”
Nikolai, again, replied rather quickly.
“Read it! She can’t wait to have you for dinner! Don’t go, man!”
Bruvi laughed and put his phone down.