The Double Life

By: Nia Wilson



I heard a car door slam outside, and I glanced up and out the window. From this angle, I had a clear view of my neighbor’s front yard. Two men had exited a brown sedan parked halfway across my driveway. I couldn’t really blame them, since the mammoth moving van was parked in front of the house again, but I was starting to get irritated.

I took a deep breath in and breathed out, trying to focus my energy elsewhere. I wasn’t going anywhere right this minute, right? Right. So no harm. If the vehicle was still there when I went to leave the house, which was whenever I felt like it and not a moment before, I would knock on the neighbor’s door and ask him to move it.

Simple enough.

I switched legs and rubbed the thick lotion in quickly so I could get it on my entire body before my skin dried. I ignored the sounds from next door, reminding myself that being nosey wasn’t any more neighborly than blocking someone’s driveway.

Satisfied I was as smooth and supple as I was going to get, I put on my plush silver robe and went back into my room to pick out some clothes. I settled on a pair of blue jeans-one of several pairs-and a lightweight, green sweater. I dressed quickly, leaving my hair up in the towel and slipping on my socks and silver tennis shoes.

The encounter with Malik the night before had shaken me up. I’d completely forgotten to swing by the grocery store and get a few things, so I would be heading to the grocery store sometime today to take care of that situation.

I didn’t really like grocery shopping, but I did like to eat. I had to choose my battles.

I walked down the stairs, careful not to trip over Johann as he vied for my attention by attempting to trip my while I navigated a flight of stairs. At this point, it was hard to tell if Johann even liked me, but I imagined he did. He followed me everywhere, sitting on my lap every time I sat down long enough for him to get comfortable. If he didn’t love me, he at least love the food I fed him. That was close enough for me.

I checked his food and water while he watched me intently. I’m not entirely sure what he imagined I was going to put in his bowl, but Johann watched me with a level of focus he reserved only for events that involved food.

He waited until I stepped away and went to his bowl, sniffing tentatively before taking a bite. I gave him a tender scratch along his spine and grabbed my keys off the hook. The groceries weren’t going to buy themselves, and I wanted to get it out of the way so I could enjoy the rest of my day. Maybe I’d go hiking, or at least enjoy the crisp weather and the bright sun.





Chapter 4




I pushed the button for the garage and sighed. How had I already forgotten that my driveway was blocked? I climbed into the Jag and turned on the engine. Maybe if I could angle it just right, I could squeeze by without having to confront anyone. Confrontation wasn’t my thing. It wasn’t that I was bad at speaking my mind. In fact, I was excellent at speaking my mind, not so good at reigning it in once I got going.

I backed out slowly, watching both mirrors to make sure I didn’t hit the sedan or drop off the curb in my grandma’s car. Half-way down the drive, I realized that it was hopeless and put my car in park, killing the engine and pocketing my keys.

I glanced in the mirror before I got out and rolled my eyes. My towel was still wrapped around my head. In my haste to get out of the house and get down with errands, I’d forgotten. I pulled the towel off and quickly finger-combed my hair. It was still damp, but it would pass.

Opening the door, I stepped out of the car and walked down the drive. One of the things I really like about my neighborhood was that everyone’s yard was neatly fenced. Unfortunately, in this case, it was a pain.

I worked my way around the sedan and my car, back onto the sidewalk towards the walkway to the house next door. I pushed the gate in, but it didn’t budge. At only three feet high, I could have easily hopped over it, but I didn’t think my new neighbor would find that amusing. I’m sure he locked it to keep his child safe, something I couldn’t fault him for doing.

I stood at the gate and hollered at the house.

“Excuse me! Excuse me, can you hear me?”

Nothing.

I blew a strand of hair out of my face and bit my lip. There was no way around the stupid car, and I wasn’t about to welcome them to the neighborhood by having their car towed.

I hollered again, standing on my tip toes and trying to see inside. The front windows already had blinds on them, and the door was closed tightly. The weather was perfect, just a typical early autumn day in San Diego. My windows were open to let in the breeze, air conditioner turned off weeks ago in favor of the fresh air that blew steadily through our tiny little suburb.

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