Week 25

The world is so unfair. There’s so much injustice in it.

First up, my neighbour gets arrested on suspicion of burglary, even though he had an airtight alibi. Next, my best friend gets picked up for the same job, when he was innocent too!

And now, because I’m an “associate” of them both, the cops want to interview me.

No way. What’s the trouble? I’m their alibi. I know they’re both innocent but the police don’t want to believe it. Even my dad thinks they’re involved, and therefore I am too.

The truth is, we were all at Liam’s place – my neighbour – watching some stupid movies with unbelievable stunts. You know the type, the ones that are so impossible and unlikely, and yet seem so plausible and incredible at the time.

Well, we were there all day – about six hours – watching the original, the sequel and then the third movie they really shouldn’t have made.

And I know that I should talk to the cops, but I also know they’ve already made their minds up.

It doesn’t matter what I say, and how many one-liners I repeat from the flicks. We’ll all end up in court and that’ll be the end of any decent career.

Not that I know exactly what I want to do at the moment, but hey, that’s not the point, is it?

So instead, I’m hanging out at my mum’s grave and suddenly wishing I’d helped dad with his deliveries instead of going over to Liam’s.

Dad reckons he was back around midday and that we weren’t there, but we were! The curtains were closed because the sun was hitting the TV and ruining a movie that was more than capable of ruining itself. And anyway, surely he would’ve heard the explosions and gun fire since we had the TV so loud.

I’m watching the sunset and feeling ice settle on my bones. It’s time to move. I can’t stay here all night. Can’t go home, either.

As I stand, it looks like I don’t have to worry about figuring out a place to sleep, because I can see the glow of blue and red from in the carpark. Two men in blue are already walking towards me and there’s nowhere I can run to, not that I probably could when I’m this cold.

I shake my head. They won’t believe me. If they haven’t believed the others, why would they believe me?

One of them tells me I need to come down to the station, but he’s not acting aggressive, not putting me in handcuffs. The other one looks half bored.

Something doesn’t feel right, but I let them lead me to the car.

They’re so casual about it all, you’d think they were just taking me home instead of downtown.

I expect to see dad waiting for me as we walk in, but he’s not here. They lead me down the hallway to the left, the way I came last year when I had to ID the guy who stole dad’s car.

Again, it doesn’t feel right.

As I’m taken through another set of doors and then motioned through to a small room, I realise I’m not here as a suspect.

Week 24

It was clear the day wasn’t going to go as planned the moment Gemma woke up.

Firstly, the power had gone out overnight, leaving her clock radio flashing a time that didn’t match the rising sun.

Sitting upright, her eyes skimmed the room for her phone before she made the least graceful climb possible out of bed, tripping over the sheets causing her to hit both forehead and knee on the ground at the same time.

Once her foot had been untangled and her phone found in yesterday’s jeans, it was of little comfort that she wasn’t running behind yet.

No milk for coffee and no bread for toast, Gemma cracked an egg in the frying pan instead and darted around the lounge to open the curtains and welcome in the morning light.

Moving back to the stove she realised she hadn’t even turned the element on. Rolling her eyes and shaking her head, she turned the dial and went back to the lounge to prepare her work papers and clear out yesterday’s receipts from her handbag.

Heading back to the kitchen to check on her egg, it was as she’d left it. Stove wasn’t working. Was the power out again? She flicked the kitchen light switch and sure enough, no light.

This time she growled and turned off the element, leaving the egg in its cold pan.

Gemma figured there’d still be some hot water for a shower so headed to the bathroom, only to find there were no towels. She checked the cupboard… no towels there either.

Checked the wash… all the towels seemed to be waiting for the machine.

She covered her face in her hands for a moment and thought. Gym bag!

Skipping the gym yesterday was paying off – she had a clean towel in her bag that she could use.

The water was warm but fading quickly. Not that she needed much time – her shampoo was almost out. There was just enough for a quick wash and rinse and even less conditioner.

Gemma managed to stub her toe on the way out of the shower and swore at the bathmat.

Surely things couldn’t get any worse?

Unfortunately for Gemma, this was only the beginning.

Week 23

History placed into boxes with only flickers of memories still attached.

A game of Tetris as they’re packed into the car, posters careful not to be bent and a guitar safely angled on top.

The house is bare, ripped of its heart; the windows closed as surfaces prepare to gather dust.

A final lock of the doors and a silent farewell to a house, no longer a home.

Week 22

The man had walked past the house three times now. Always from right to left, so the young occupants assumed he must be walking around the block, but it could hardly be for exercise, being that he was wearing a suit.

It wasn’t exactly a casual walk either, with awkward jolts almost like a skip every third or fourth step. Or a hiccup. It was all very strange.

“He’s purposely walking on the cracks,” Jessica pointed out. “All of them.” She nodded towards the man as he passed their neighbours gate and immediately the other two girls could see the pattern.

“He’s going to marry a lot of rats,” Jolene joked without smile.

“Or one big one!” Janie said, her face pressed against the glass.

The three children, their heads filling up one half of the window, had started looking out for the man after his second passing.

They thought they knew most of their neighbours – mostly from knocking on doors for school fundraisers and Halloween – but this man was unfamiliar and getting more and more curious with every moment.

They’d already guessed a range of possibilities for his being on their street and had ruled out a number them. Not a salesman, not a realtor, not a politician and certainly not a delivery man.

The man turned left at the end of their street and disappeared from view.

The girls returned to their previous positions – the eldest, Jessica, by the computer, Jolene on the couch with her book and Janie, the youngest, to the floor with her dolls – but not to their previous activities.

“If he passes again,” Jolene wondered. “Should we ask what he’s doing?”

There was a moment of silence and quizzical looks before Jessica  frowned and shook her head. “He could be dangerous. What if he’s a crook?”

“I think he’s an alien!” Janie said, not for the first time. The others ignored her and continued to frown at the thought of this strange man.

“If he’s a crook, do we call the police?”

Again Jessica shook her head. “What for? We don’t have anything to report… yet.”

“Who do you call in case of aliens?” Again, Janie was ignored.

Jolene looked at the clock on top of the bookshelf. It was almost four o’clock. “Mum should be home soon. She might know something.”

All three girls looked out the window again. It would be another few minutes before the man should walk past. Just as they began to look away their mother’s car pulled into the driveway.

Janie was quick to her feet and immediately began dancing on tiptoes waiting for her mother to walk through the front door and to tell her wild tales of the man in the suit.

As the clock’s hands ticked by, Jolene and Jessica once again felt lines form between their eyebrows. Janie stood still.

After what felt like the longest three minutes, Jolene jumped up from the couch, reached the front door in two long strides and swung it open, Janie peering out at her side.

The car was parked, but their mother wasn’t in it. Nor was she in the front garden or chatting over the fence to the neighbours.

Jessica soon joined the others at the door to see what was keeping them so quiet when they would usually be chatting to mum.

“Where is she?” Janie was the first to speak.

Suddenly they became aware of how still the day was. Their street was often quiet, but never this much. The more the girls listened for sound, the more they realised there was nothing but the breeze. No building sounds from the house across the street. No distant sound of cars. No birds above them. Nothing.

“Close the door.” It wasn’t so much a request as a demand from Jessica and the girls quickly pulled inside. “Call mum’s cell,” she nodded at Jolene. “I’ll text dad.”

As the girls went to pick up their phones, the man in the suit walked past their window for the fourth time. All three girls stood still as they watched him. His strange skips and hiccups more obvious now.

They gravitated towards the window as they continued to watch him pass their neighbours gate and round the corner, again to the left.

The older girls started to push numbers on their phones when Janie gasped.

As they turned to look where the man in the suit had come from, they saw a familiar figure at the end of the street repeating his steps, coming closer to their house, but seemingly unaware of it.

Their mother, in her heels and best blue dress, was stepping on every crack in the concrete while her head kept straight ahead.

As the girls watched with wide eyes, their mother walked awkwardly past their house, past their neighbours’ gate, around the corner and out of sight.