Every once in a while, I would run past this house. The house was weathered with its married browns, and it’s tainted windows leaked it’s darkness to the outside. The lawn was always unmowed, and wilted daffodils led to the front door. Dark blue paint chipped off around the corners from harsh winter weather. Maybe if I had decided to stop for once I would catch more details. But all I would do was run.
It was just around early March when I decided that I would stop to look at the house for once. But today someone stood on the porch of that old house. I’d seen him before at school. He was in the grade above me, in 10th grade. I didn’t stop to look at the house this time. I just decided to run. I ran and ran. I didn’t know why I couldn’t stop. It was almost as if the wind became my legs and whisked me away. I didn’t stop until I reached the stoop of my house that my friends said was perfect for sitting on. I sat and breathed in the chilling spring air. It was everything I’d ever hoped for. A new something.
For every day of the next week, he would stand on the porch. He stared as I ran by. All I could see was his dark brown eyes. I wondered why. Maybe I wished he’d stop standing there so I could look at that house. Maybe I wished I didn’t run this way all the time. Maybe I wished that this house didn’t exist at all.
But on the 8th day, he wasn’t there.
I wondered if I wished too hard. Maybe I had terrible luck. That had to be it. I wished him away, and I was worried that maybe I wished his house away too.
“My family doesn’t believe in luck,” Kate said. “I don’t know why you tell me these things anyway.” I didn’t know why I would tell her either. In her eyes, God always had an answer. Luck wasn’t one of them. She would tell me that God cannot dictate what will and will not happen. And I would sigh and stare at the glow in the dark stars stuck on her ceiling and listen to her neighbors wind chimes in the distance. Kate was a good friend. But she wasn’t a good listener.
“Is Hope staying for dinner?” Kate’s mom asked.
“Do you want to?” Kate asked, her blue eyes linked to mine. I shrugged. She rolled her eyes and pulled herself off her twin bed. I listened as she yelled to her mom as she made her way down those wooden creaky stairs. I turned my head to admire her baby photos. From the glare of her ceiling light I could make out her 1 month old face next to her older sister, Marley. The pink frame had pony stickers along the side of the edges. For being 14, Kate was still kind of kiddish. She still wore headbands with pink pom poms, something I hadn’t done since the 3rd grade. I mostly wore whatever I had, and clothes my mom gave me before she got pregnant again. She’s having a girl, even though she and dad were hoping for another boy. I didn’t care though. I was just excited to have another sibling besides Mateo.
“It’s ready,” Kate said. “Come on.” I followed her down and we all sat together. Marley’s friend, Effie, was already here. I hadn’t seen him since school started. Marley and Effie were going to graduate soon, and they were pretty eager. I stared down at my plate. I would eat anything, yet Kate wouldn’t. I’d learned not to be picky by my father. He used to buy ramen and have us eat the dried noodles uncooked. I don’t know how, but it sort of worked.
“I don’t like chicken,” Kate sighed.
“You just don’t like it because Linus cooked it,” Marley said, scoffing. Linus was their stepfather. He was very timid, and Kate was quite the opposite. Very loud and stubborn, while Linus was calm and collected. Sometimes I wished it was the other way around, and that I didn’t have to think about what I would say to Kate. But then Kate would be afraid of Linus. I piled salad onto my plate, and stuffed lettuce into my mouth, dressing smearing my lips.
“Well, I didn’t know Linus cooked it,” Kate retorted. I heaved a breath out through my nose. I was eating too fast, I was probably going to be bloated later.
“How couldn’t you?” Marley asked. “You were in the kitchen five minutes ago!”
“Maybe I don’t constantly pay attention to my surroundings?” Kate said, narrowing her eyes.
“Girls, enough!” Kate’s mom shouted, slamming her hands on the table. “Katelyn, go make yourself a peanut butter sandwich if you’re not liking tonight’s dinner. And Hope, I hope you remember that our family says a prayer before we begin a meal.” I slowly set my fork down and swallowed. I didn’t remember. As Kate said, I too don’t constantly pay attention to my surroundings. We all clasped hands as Kate rummaged around in the kitchen. Part of me wished I was home right about now. Eventually Kate plopped down in her seat and a sad looking peanut butter and Nutella sandwich landed on her plate. In the corner of my eye, I could see a small flier hung up against the wall. The letters were in pink cursive with pink and yellow confetti. Kate’s 15th Birthday Party! March 28th at 46 Longview Road 4 pm to 10 pm.
“I didn’t know you were having a party,” I said, easing back into my seat. I already picked out her present, and my mom was knitting her a scarf.
“Yeah, I am,” Kate said, biting her sandwich. I looked around. Effie’s eyes were widening, but he kept them on the plate.
“I’m excited, I already got your present,” I exclaimed.
“I mean, you can take one of the fliers,” Kate said. “I don’t know if we’ll have enough room.”
“Were you planning on not inviting me?” I asked.
“It’s nothing personal,” Kate said, sighing. “I invited the entire math club. You don’t like any of them, anyway.”
“I could be polite,” I said. I didn’t understand. She was my best friend. We were supposed to be best friends.
“That would just make you fake,” Kate said, tilting her head. I abruptly stood and turned on the back of my heel. I yanked on my sneakers and burst out the back door. Maybe I had a right to be mad, maybe I didn’t. I didn’t care. I didn’t care if I was fake or not. I didn’t care that Kate didn’t invite me to her birthday party. I didn’t care if no one said anything to me. But I did care what Kate thought of me. All I could do now was run.