The New Visitors
Chapter Five - Pandora’s Box - The Gift
THIRTEEN YEARS EARLIER ...!
Jake woke from a deep slumber, raising and stretching his arms upwards towards the ceiling as far as they would reach. It’s been his daily routine since the start of the summer vacation.
A smile crept over his boyish looks. He could feel in his heart the joy and warmth like the rays of the sun. His mind sparked as most eight-year-old thoughts would, sprinting with every possibility to spend their day.
He officially kicked started this momentum by jumping from his bed bursting past the sheets and scooting into the bathroom of their quaint three-bedroom semi-detached home located in the suburbs of York.
The toilet sounded, flushing loudly, and bouncing off into the hallway, like a revving engine in a deserted schoolyard. Jake took the left and right knob into his grip simultaneously turned the water on to wash his hands.
Collecting the bar of soap, Jake mimicked his dad’s expression whenever he washed his hands. His dad taught him about lathering techniques. The lesson he remembers was to swish the foam between his fingers, holding reminiscent to a church steeple.
He looked in the mirror and made the sound, “tweedled lee...tweedled...lee,” folding his fingers up and down, through the wash, and then rinse. He turned and grabbed the mid-sized hand cloth hanging from a ring mount to dry them off.
Seizing his toothpaste, he squeezed a strip onto the bristles of his Spiderman toothbrush, had a quick look in the mirror when he forgot a small detail in his ritual.
“Doh!” smacking his forehead with the base of his palm. He suddenly remembered to wash his toothbrush first before applying the toothpaste. Turning the faucet on again, he soaked the bristles, spread another line of toothpaste, and began brushing.
As the foam grew increasingly, it bubbled over his lips, he started to pretend, he was a rabid animal growling at his reflection in the mirror.
“Jake!” cried his mom from the kitchen. “Breakfast is ready,” she added. Jake quickly spat the residue into the sink and responded, “Coming Mom!” He finished rinsing his mouth with a light mint mouthwash.
He bolted down the stairs over the waterfall carpeted path. His nostrils filling with the scent of bacon with each step. The smell made his mouth water. His stomach could almost taste the savory richness.
Swinging around the banister, the momentum carried his body forward-facing the hall leading to the kitchen. It gave him a running start to slide across the linoleum floor, an eight-foot stretch before entering the dining area.
As he broke into the room, something or someone stole his attention. A strange girl was sitting in his spot at the family table. This caused him to break concentration, forcing him to lose his balance and take a tumble. He slipped and fell onto his butt with a tremendous thud.
The strange girl giggled at his poor attempt to stick the landing but was more amused at the expression he had on his face while trying to catch his fall.
From his knees, Jake reached up and grabbed the edge of the table. He lifted his head past the smooth plateau surface and peered at her momentarily. He would clutch and climb up to sit in the chair closest to him.
His mom was quite stunned at his awkward entry and tried to erase it from their memory, “Jake,” she said, “I’d like to introduce you to our new neighbors.” He reluctantly acknowledged their presence with a wave in their general direction.
“Jacob Nicodemo,” she scorned, “don’t be rude, get over here and give them a proper hello,” griped his mother.
“This is Tina...Tina Travers and her lovely daughter Holly,” she shared happily. “They just moved into the neighborhood,” Jake’s mom rambled further. “I met them while shopping at Boss’s convenience store and thought to invite them over for breakfast.”
After formally greeting them with a handshake, Jake quietly returned to his seat and felt a loss of appetite.
Holly held a wide smile following Jake’s movements back to his chair. She burst into a chuckle when she had seen the expression on Jake's uninterested face. His not-so-subtle approach in pretending to be enjoying their company.
Holly later directed a compliment about his PJs, “I like your pajamas!” Jake’s face rose with a flush. A soft rosy hue beaming from his cheeks. “It’s okay, I really mean it,” Jake boorishly grunted, “Spiderman is one of my favorites too!” she reassured.
Jake slowly stood to his feet and rotated his head, staring intently at his mother. She smiled back at him and then motioned towards Holly, then returned a look at him, gesturing to engage Holly in conversation.
An exasperated sigh of, “oh come on,” escaped his mouth and his mom snapped a cold scowl toward his direction. With rolling eyes, he sat back down to finish eating his bacon.
All Jake could hope at this point was to avoid feeling more embarrassed or worse the possibility that his mom would propose he entertain Holly. After devouring his last piece of bacon, Jake erupted from his seat and asked his mom, “May I be excused?”
“Yes of course you may, honey!” she reciprocated. His body jumped with excitement but receded when she suddenly requested that he clean the table of his dishes, bring them to the sink, wash and dry them, then also included, “Don’t forget to put them away.”
“Awe Mom ... really!” Jake retorted. She wasn’t done yet, she made one last demand, “then after you’ve done that, I want you to get dressed, take Holly outside and introduce her to some of your friends.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he mumbled beneath his breath, thinking how this day couldn’t get any worse. He lamented by answering, “Okay.”
In his best Schwarzenegger impression, he looked at Holly and said, “I’ll be back,” she giggled into her hands and Jake disappeared down the hall. He sprang up the stairs to his bedroom to get out of his Spider-Man pyjamas.
A few moments later he reappeared sliding across the floor again and into the kitchen to adopt his mom’s wish; take Holly out and welcome her to his friends.
“Hey,” called Jake, Holly hopped up, startled by his voice. Jake nodded towards the hall attempting to relay the message to have Holly follow him outside. “ Well, are you coming?” he asked abruptly. “come on, let’s go!” he groaned.
Holly looked delighted and replied, “Oh, okay.” She started to collect her dishes from the table, when Jake’s mom halted her efforts saying, “oh no dear, Jake can handle that for you,” shooting him an eyebrow-raising glare.
“It’s okay Mrs. Carter, I can do it,” said Holly politely. “Please call me Brittney!” Jake's mom suggested, “Mrs. Carter sounds too formal,” she added.
Holly’s mom also entered into the conversation “And you Jake, may call me Tina,” she said cheerfully. The two women vanished back into their previous chat and Jake thought, “Wow, they barely missed a beat.”
Before they could disappear into the day. Jake had to clean Holly’s dishes. He spun around to face the sink and saw that she was taking care of them. Jake was taken by Holly’s kindness. He admired her actions at that moment and how cool she was. Then just as fleeting found himself shrugging that idea and dismissing it completely.
Through the hallway, they raced. Jake pushed the front door open and held it for her. She was beaming with delight when she walked past. A big bright smile rose from her face and Jake took notice.
Holly was a petite girl. She had long auburn hair with curls that fell like waves over her great big brown eyes. A cute button nose, oval-shaped to her face and when she smiled, her pink lips extended beyond her cheeks. She was a few inches shorter than Jake, yet he remembered parts of their Mom's conversation about Holly being a year younger.
“So,” Jake said looking to break the somewhat uneasy silence between them. “What do you do for fun?” he asked apprehensively.
Holly suddenly turned to face him dead square in the eyes and responded with “this,” she punched straight into the middle of his chest, “You’re it!” she cried sprinting off laughing joyfully as she entered the nearby playground.
“Hey!” he yelled, then bickered, “No fair!” he stood frozen in that spot, rubbing at his sternum trying to relieve some of the pressure from Holly’s punch.
Although he felt a welt of pain left by her fist, a soothing sneer crept across his face and hastily chased after her.
Running as fast as his legs would go, he leaped over the bench, ran through some bushes but nothing. He lurked and searched to trace her but just like the sun hiding beneath the clouds and disappearing, so had she.
“Holly,” he shouted, “this isn’t nice,” loudly stating his unhappiness. Holly started to giggle uncontrollably. Jake picked out her location, jumped off the slide to investigate the spot more closely.
He ran towards the thick heavy brush. His strides kicked up more quickly and just as he entered the dense foliage, Holly tried to escape the shrubbery. Both unknowingly were heading straight for the other.
Holly stood up to run and Jake accidentally slammed into her, knocking her off balance. Holly began laughing loudly, chuckling with each tumble to the ground. Jake grabbed her shirt trying to keep her from crashing harder and hurting herself before landing on top of her.
Still laughing quite hysterically, Holly rolled over, and their two sweet innocent faces were caught in a trance, gazing deeper into one another’s big bold eyes and for a moment they were lost.
Holly reached up, wrapped her arms around Jake's neck, pulled herself closer to his face, and tenderly kissed him on the cheek. Her body rose to meet his and squeezed, hugging him. Holly snuck herself away from Jake and jolted to her feet.
Jake continued to stare into Holly’s silhouette from the mould she left in the soil. He seemed locked in that position, as though concrete settled and hardened him like a statue. It wasn’t until the sound of his mothers’ voice shattering the spell he fell under.
Jake vaulted to his feet, composing himself and brushing the dirt from his knees, when he suddenly was, “SLAP” Holly hit his shoulder, “You’re It!” she excitedly said and darted towards Jake’s house.
“Ah...come on no fair!” He grunted back, chasing after her again, but this time they would continue to chase one another exchanging the lead.
“You’re it,” Holly laughed. “Nope, you are!” Jake playfully tapped her back.
”Wrong again...You’re it!” Holly touched Jake repeatedly with the tips of her fingers looking to keep the edge in the score, but Jake had other ideas.
“No ... No ... No ... I Beg to differ, you’re it!” and he ramped up his efforts in an attempt to stay ahead of Holly as they ran happily down the street.