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Neighbors

by Josh Mallernee 6 months ago in Adventure

Chapter 1

Neighbors
Photo by Jacalyn Beales on Unsplash

Jerome was slowly descending the side of what apparently was a mountain, or at least seemed that way. He had started this journey from his front porch about ten minutes ago. “Find something that shows the power of nature, and take a picture of it.” Mr. Smith, his science teacher, had given out the assignment as they were leaving yesterday.

Jerome had just recently moved to the small town of Asheville, coincidentally he had just had his fourteenth birthday. He was an average boy for his age. He was roughly five and a half feet, long brown hair, and green eyes that stood out more than anything else about the child. There was nothing extraordinarily unique about him other than his eyes and his imagination. He was your average teenage boy relocated to a small town in a new city. He hadn’t made any friends yet, not because he hadn’t tried, he just wasn’t very good at talking to people. He was originally from a much larger town in California. He didn’t want to move and lose all his friends, but his father had gotten a new job, and his parents had wanted to get away from a growing crime rate in California.

The sound of the river to his left reminded him of the planes taking off at the nearby Air Force base in his hometown. He wasn’t sure why the river was so loud, but he knew this was the picture he wanted. The sun reflected off the road below as if someone had lined the street with mirrors. The boy was drawn to the light like a moth to a flame. “Hey kid! Watch out! The river’s flooding!” The voice seemed distant, but close at the same time. It had the sound of age to it. Jerome looked up to find an older woman walking her dog up the hill. “Thanks, for the warning ma’am. Do you know where I might get a good picture of the river for my science project?”

The lady studied the boy for a minute before responding. “I don’t know that you can, without going past where it’s already flooded, but that is clearly out of the question. You’ll be washed away boy!” “Thanks for your concern.” Jerome replied as kindly as possible as he went closer to where the water had breached the road. He heard the lady muttering, “stupid kids” in the distance but it seemed like it was coming from another world as far as Jerome was concerned. He was entranced by the river. This was definitely a force of nature. The power of the river could be heard similar to what one would imagine an avalanche sounded like, but at the same time the water he could see looked so tranquil and peaceful. Like a small pond had formed in the dip of the road from too much rain.

“This can’t possibly be dangerous.” He said to no one in particular, yet the old woman decided to once again, remind him he was a dumb kid. Even though the water looked peaceful Jerome still cautiously stuck his foot into the water. His foot was immediately greeted by the shockingly cold water, cutting into his flesh like a knife. The sensation travelled quickly up his leg to his chest seizing his breath momentarily. There was a force of nature right there, he thought. It was as if your entire body was pulling away from the cold and your lungs were sure you were going to drown so they suddenly seized up to prevent the impending doom. After what seemed like an eternity and mustering his courage he stepped forward with his other foot. This time the shock of the cold didn’t even phase him. Funny how that works too, he thought.

The flooded area of the road was only three feet across so it took no time to cross the area. Nothing happened of course he knew it wouldn't, but still yet the elderly lady decided to once again give her input. “You could have died boy, you kids never listen. It’s a wonder more of you don’t get yourselves killed.” “Have a nice day ma’am” Jerome yelled back as he continued forward looking to his left for a good view of the river.

He found a two story brown house less than ten feet from the flooded area. It was a fairly large house. The exterior looked like a log house, but it clearly wasn't. It was obviously for the effect. The house had a large wrap around porch leading from the road. Jerome could see the rushing river clearly. It had once been a singular silver line of water, but it had branched off. Jerome was immediately reminded of a Worshac test the way the water had branched out along the valley as if it had suddenly shifted into a giant spider. Without thinking Jerome walked onto the porch trying to find a place for the perfect picture.

The porch was cluttered and he was sure this was the house of a single man. There were unmarked boxes along the porch stacked haphazardly along the side of the house. The problem was that they were located on the other side of a locked gate. The gate was about three feet high, and for a moment he considered hopping it to get his picture. As if his senses had suddenly been recovered he realized he should probably ask first. He turned back to the side door he had seen and knocked.

The door began to creep open. I didn’t think I knocked that hard, he thought to himself. “Hello”? He called into the darkened room. “Is there anyone home?”. He had asked the question already knowing the answer as there was no car in the driveway. Once again acting on instinct without thinking he slowly entered the house. Surely he could find a way to the porch without going through the house entirely, he thought. His thoughts were interrupted by the sweetest voice he had ever heard. “What are you doing? Mister Radke will shoot you. He’s a cop you know!”

Jerome turned to find the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. She had dark brown hair that flowed to her shoulders, it seemed to be blended perfectly with slight hints of gold. He watched her hair as it glided over the shoulders of her white dress when she turned her head. Her eyes were the deepest brown he had ever seen. They almost looked black from his distance, but he couldn’t stop staring into them. He suddenly remembered the first time he had explored a cave with his father and he was unable to pull his eyes away from the mouth of the cave. As if the darkness was trying to swallow him. That was similar to how he felt looking into her eyes. Finally pulling his vision back to take in her whole face. This must be what love at first sight is he thought.

“Yea I don’t know what I was thinking.” He replied as he walked towards this beautiful creature he had just found. He felt like a hunter who had just found his prize animal, but could never harm a hair on it’s head. “I’m Jerome, and you are?” He asked meekly if he felt like he was a peasant in the presence of a queen. “I’m Misty, what are you doing here anyway?” He suddenly found himself at a loss for words, which wasn’t uncommon for him but he wanted to talk to her more than anyone else he had ever met in his life. It was as if his mouth had forgotten how to make words.

He suddenly found himself standing directly in front of her. He was unaware he had even moved, but yet there he was. “I was trying to get a good picture of the river and the view from his back porch would be perfect. Do you know when he comes home?” “He’s a cop, duh, They have weird hours. He always comes home randomly, but you can come hang out with my brother and I if you want till he gets home. That is if he comes home before it gets too late.” Jerome had never heard a better offer in his life. He would follow this girl to the ends of the world if she asked him. “Sure, I’m Jerome by the way.”

“Umm yea you already said that.” She giggled as she walked to the smaller white house directly next door. The house paled in comparison to the neighboring cop, but the front yard was huge. There was a small brown fence lining the edge of the back yard, and a large Oak tree located at the end of the yard. This must be the south he thought as he noted the tire swing hanging from the largest branch between the fence and the tree. There was a small garden lining the road with flowers which he was sure covered every color in the spectrum. He wondered what their real color might be as he had just learned about how light works and how the color we see isn’t necessarily the actual color of the object. They walked up a steep driveway to some broken down rock stairs that looked in need of repair, and to reaffirm this belief he felt one of the stones shift under his weight.

The porch was tiny in comparison to the wrap around, but it was pretty standard for what you would expect of a house. Well normal houses he thought. The house they had moved into didn’t even have a porch really. More like a stoop. The creaking of a porch swing grabbed his attention and he looked up to see a boy of roughly eight sitting on the swing alone. Misty must be watching her brother. “I saw you walking across the flooded road while I was watching my brother.” She suddenly spoke as if knowing what he was thinking at that moment. “This is Matthew, Matthew this is my friend Jerome.” Friend he thought she’s already calling me her friend.

He found his feelings were slightly bruised, the last thing he wanted to be was just her friend. Pulling himself back from his silly thoughts he replied, “What's up Matt? Can I call you Matt?” Matthew had the same dark hair and dark eyes as his sister, but his hair was much closer cropped and clearly not long at all. Matthew continued to stare blankly at Jerome, but never replied. “He isn’t much of a talker when it comes to new people.” she explained, “but he doesn’t mind Matt.” “So tell me about you, Jerome the brave.”

“Brave?” He asked, confused. “Well you did just walk across a flooded road, went onto the property of a cop and just began to enter a house without any hesitation. So I kind of thought it was a fitting title.” She replied, followed immediately by a giggle. Jerome was still too naïve to realize she was flirting with him, but instead assumed she was mocking him. It must have shown in his face because she suddenly replied. “I’m just teasing you.”

The two began to talk and he gave her his whole story. Telling her how his father was a doctor and had taken a job at the local hospital. He explained how he had been uprooted from his hometown and hadn’t really made any friends yet. She drank in his story as if she was dying of thirst in the middle of the desert under the burning sun. “Well I for one am glad that I met you.” She replied after had finished his introduction. He felt like he had just turned four shades of red. “I’m glad to have met you too.”

Adventure

Josh Mallernee

Struggling writer been writing since I was a kid and am now trying to make my dreams come true. Writing has always been a passion of mine and I am looking forward to seeing how my writing works here.

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