The O’Briens

The moon is sitting high, together with the stars, lighting up the street for the possums and bats that have only just begun their day. Yet I am preparing to end my day, it reads “10:57 pm” on my alarm clock. My bedroom window is wide open allowing the air in with the hopes of cooling the house from the scorching summer’s day. The rattle of a truck filled with boxes and appliances announces the arrival of the neighbours. New neighbours are moving in.

The sun’s rays that shine through my window, are blinding me. I roll to my right and see that my alarm clock reads “6:24 am”. It’s too early for a Saturday. My annoyance grows as the shuffling of boxes and the slamming of doors gets louder. I drag my sleepy body out of bed and find myself looking out for a view of the new neighbours, the O’Briens. Mr O’Brien is tall and stocky, sporting a Collingwood FC cap in order to hide some unruly white curls. Whereas, Mrs O’Brien is short and skeletal with the white roots of her straight hair having outgrown their blonde dye. If they weren’t helping one another to carry boxes, I would never have guessed they were married. They don’t seem to look at one another even when carrying the couch together. Their attention is preoccupied with something in the house as they continued to glance back at their new home. Perhaps, they have a child or a baby. Maybe I can babysit one day. Yet, the truth is that I have been hoping for someone my age. Maybe a boy, a hot one!

I continue to watch them while they unpack their boxes yet I never see anyone else come in or out of the house. The house looks very bare since the last family moved out, the Simmons. They were a family of five with all three kids under the age of 12. A very lively household with music blaring and children laughing. Ever since their departure the house has looked deserted.

The entire day passes with no sign of another soul other than Mr and Mrs O’Brien. Even they have made no ruckus since their arrival. I have concluded that my hope for a neighbourhood friend is a miss. It was silly to think that the person who lives next door to you can become the long-lost soul that you have been meaning to meet all your life. I have surely been reading too many romance novels. I look at my alarm clock and notice that it’s only “9:25 pm”. I might as well continue reading my book “The Carrie Diaries”, I can get my romance fix from there.

In my book, Carrie is in love with a bad-boy, Sebastian. It’s silly how most girls want the bad-boys. Carrie knows that Sebastian is bad news yet she continues to crush on him.

Crash! Boom! “Please don’t do it, Liam! Liam, please!” a female voice yells. “Liam, I am your mother. Please don’t hurt me.” Her voice softens yet her fear is ringing in my ears.

“Mum, get out of my way!” a bold male voice yells. “Stop being such a bitch!” There is silence in between his commands. His mother is too scared to fight him. “Fuck, mum! Move!”

“Aaah!” it’s a scream from the mother as she thuds to the floor. She must have been hit by Liam. I hear loud footsteps walking away.

I have been still since the first sound. Frozen into place. Too scared to peer out of my window to see what is happening at the O’Brien’s house. Yet now that it has gotten quieter I sneak over to my window and scan the O’Brien property. There is a light on in the living room and through the shutters, I see a woman sprawled on the floor wincing in pain. There is also a light on in the backyard, flashing on and off. As I look closely, in the corner of the backyard next to a lemon tree sits a thin young man, possibly 17 years old, pulling his hair in frustration and itching his arms.

This boy, Liam, is scary. He itches harder and he begins muttering things. He looks around to see if anyone can see him. The muttering gradually gets louder until I can hear him on the verge of screaming and crying at the same time. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t want to do it. I’m so sorry, Mum. I’m so sorry. Mum, I’m so sorry. I didn’t want to.” He wails.

As I watch him, cradled in the corner professing his sorrow, I see a shell of a boy. Something has been stolen from him. A lover. A friend. His childhood. Liam looks around his new garden, scanning as I did before him. From my window, I can see the shine from tears crowding his eyes and his face is filled with pain.

Liam peers around his new backyard and realises the time. The moon and stars lighting up the night as my cat sits on the fence separating me from Liam. He walks into his house and back into his bedroom.

1:00 am.

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