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The Illusion - Chapter 2

Neighbors.
-Klara-

"Welcome to the Westwood Post!" I started off Newspaper class. There were about 15 students that filled the seats which excited me because this year was my second year as head editor and I was ready to prove to the college admissions at Burch college in Boston that I was a leader. "I'm Klara Gritts, your head editor. This year we have a lot of exciting things happening. Instead of printing every other month, we will be printing monthly!" Claps were spread across the room.

"Thanks to Klara's advertising this summer, we got some sponsors willing to help us pay for a few extra papers," our adviser, Mrs. Maud, chimed in. Maud was a 40-year-old woman with a lot of willpower. She was never afraid to speak her mind, which I highly admired.

"So, to start off our year, we need to plan for the September issue. Ideas?" I uncap a dry-erase marker to start our storyboard. As people talked about ideas including the football team and the fall play, a quiet girl in the back raised her hand.

"You don't have to raise your hand, this is an open floor," I remind her.

"What about that new kid?" She murmurs.

"I remember hearing about that. What's his name?" Maud asked from behind her desk.

"Ricky! Oh my goodness, he is so gorgeous!" Marie, an energetic cheerleader, gushed.

"Isn't he supposed to be dangerous?" Chase, a sophomore who had a crush on me last year, slammed Marie down.

"But, danger is really attractive in a guy." She rolled her eyes at him.

"How is he dangerous?" I asked curiously, leaning against the podium.

"I heard that he got kicked out of his last school for starting a fight, in which one kid almost died and two were sent to the hospital," explained Chase.

"Well, that's intense," Maud fills the empty silence that appeared after Chase's comment, "who wants to interview the new student?" Everyone got really quiet. "Marie?"

"He's hot, but it's not worth it," her eyes filled half her face in fright.

"I will do it, Maud." I claim, shocking everyone.

"Thanks, Klara. Always willing to take one for the team," it was her way of applauding me, "alright, more ideas?"

I continued to see Ricky as I walked throughout my first day of school and I always found myself trying to walk the other way, not out of fear but being unprepared. He was intelligent and cunning, I just wanted to have the upper hand for some reason.

When school was finally done, I drove Tracey home and ended up staying for an after school snack while having a chat with her mother, who was a stay-at-home mom. After two cookies and venting about freshman being such slow walkers in the hallway, I decided to go home. Dad wasn't home yet, which always makes me a tad nervous but as I get out of my car, I notice that my neighbor was home. Jackson Walker has been my neighbor since I was born. While it was a blessing to have another kid to play with growing up, it has turned into a curse that neither of us are willing to speak about. Turning my back to his window that had a full view of my front lawn, I see a 1968 mustang sitting in my elderly neighbors driveway with boxes consuming it.

"Don't strain yourself too much, Richard!" I hear Matilda, the widow screech at the poor man. Walking around my truck, I see Ricky bringing boxes into the garage.

"Don't worry, grandmother," he chuckled to himself lightly, "I don't think you should be worrying about me."

"I just don't want you to tire yourself out too quickly," she leans back and forth on her rocker that graced her front porch for too many years to count, "well hello, Klara!"

"Good Afternoon, Mrs. Parker." Suddenly it all clicked, causing me to almost drop my books.

"Have you met my grandson, Richard?" She gestures to Ricky who pulled out another box from the car.

"Yes, I have." I slowly nod.

"We have English together, Grammy." Ricky notified her, setting the box within the garage door.

"Richard, isn't that the subject you failed last year? Klara is going to be a journalism major in college which is close to English. It's perfect! She can tutor you this year!" Mrs. Parker eagerly looked between us causing us to exchange glances.

"I told you Grammy, this year will be different," he said in such a seriously tone, it made me question.

"Whatever you say, Dear. I have to go check on dinner," she stood and shuffled inside, closing the door behind her.

"Sorry about that," Ricky turned to me after she had gone.

"It's fine," I tried to smile even though I wasn't quite sure what to say. We both had a moment of awkward silence before we began to turn away. I stopped however and turned back around, "Hey, uh," pausing I pushed my fingers through my dark red hair, "I'm head editor of our school newspaper and I have to write an article on the new kid, do you want to meet up after dinner in my garden to do an interview?"

"Yeah," He nodded, squinting his eyes as if he didn't believe me but sounded optimistic when he confirmed, "yeah, that would be cool."

"Great, I'll see you then." I smile, turning to head back inside when I see Jackson at his window, viewing the interaction happening below him.

I headed up to my room, starting on homework as I got settled in. Deciding I needed more light, I go to open the shade when, to my surprise, I see Ricky unpacking his things in his new bedroom. Our windows happen to face each others, making me feel suddenly awkward. His eye catches mine and I quickly drop the shade to a close and grab my camera, heading to the backyard.

Other than being head editor, there are two things I love to do: work in my garden and take photographs. There were a few blooms left in some of the flowers and I thought I would capture them before they were gone. My mother had always loved gardening and always had me assist her in planting, weeding, and watering. I bent down in front of some tulips and let the focus set in before I realized a pair of shoes were behind them. Looking up, I find Jackson, standing on the other side of plants.

"Jackson..." my breath catches, suddenly feeling nervous and comforted.

"Hey Klara," he seemed calm, yet on edge about something, "so that new guy is our neighbor?"

"Ricky? Yeah, he moved in with his grandmother, Mrs. Parker," I turned to look at his house behind me, in which a figure moved from the window. Was he watching us like Jackson did?

"Listen, Klara, I don't know if I like you talking to him much," Jackson comments, shocking me.

"Excuse me, but you and I haven't talked in years, if not in passing. When do you have any declaration in who I speak to?" I place a hand on my hip.

"I know these last few years have been hard on you... they have been on me too, if you don't remember," he shoves back in my face.

"Look, I don't want to have the tie that I have with you, but we have it. The only thing we can do now is ignore each other, and that's been working best, so I'd feel better if you would continue this strategy."

"What happened was not my fault, Klara," his voice is stern in a hushed tone.

"No, it wasn't, but it wasn't mine either," I remind him as well.

"I just don't want that guy around."

"That isn't in your control, Jackson." I raise an eyebrow, testing his limits.

"Not for long," he turns away.

"What does that mean?" I call after him, but he does answer as he returns to his home.

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Published: 10/3/2013
Bouquets and Brickbats