Neighbors [365 Writing Project]





I watched from the kitchen window as Lily played in the backyard.  My brother had given us one of those Fisher Price play sets and Lily loved playing on it every day.  He no longer needed it and felt we could use it for Lily and Stefan.  Thinking about it, I don’t know why he would have such kids play set.  Jon isn’t married nor does he have any kids.  Not that it makes a difference where he got it from – it’s just one of those things that make you wonder.  Jon does have a history of different women in and out of his life, maybe it came from of them. Again, it doesn’t matter.  All that mattered was Lily and Stefan enjoyed it.  Stefan was down for his afternoon nap and would be there for at least another forty-five minutes of so.  Lily stopped taking naps as soon as she graduated to her big girl bed nine months ago.  Stefan being confined to a crib doesn’t have the luxury of getting out of bed whenever he wants to, unlike Lily who saw her new bed as an opportunity to do what she wants.

Our dog Radar liked to play in the set as well.  Lily has tried numerous times to get him to come down the slide with her, but has been unsuccessful as of yet.  When Radar isn’t playing with the kids or scarfing down his food, that dog loves to bark at the neighbors through the chain-link fence..   Abe Rodriguez and his family live next door.  They’re established in the neighborhood and older than us as well.  Abe and Julia or Julie, I can never remember which one it is so I just call her Mrs. Rodriguez, have a grandson about Lily’s age.  When he visits his grandparents, he plays outside on the swing in their backyard.  Radar barks and barks at that kid.  It’s not like the four year old is slinging rocks at the mutt, Radar is just a puppy who barks at everyone not in our family. 

This is one of those times.

I’m standing in the kitchen watching Lily through the window play “school playground” as Radar is up against the chain-link fence barking at the kid and Julia or Julie.  I whisper a curse about how dumb the dog is, open the door and scold the dog.

“Radar!  Get inside and shut up!!”

Not that I care he’s barking at the neighbors, I just don’t want him waking up Stefan yet.  I still got about 45 minutes before I have to change a diaper and I really don’t want to be doing it right now because my dumb dog is being loud.

Radar complies and runs inside. He scurries off to our bedroom where Nat is more than likely resting before she has to go into work this evening.

I wave an apologetic wave to Julie or Julie and ask Lily if she needs anything.  She reminds me she’s not allowed to have anything to drink on the “school playground” and goes back to her fun.  I take this to mean she’s eventually going to be thirsty, so I come back inside, grab one of her Shopkins cups and fill it with water from the fridge.  When I look back outside, Lily is walking towards the chain-link fence.  Julia or Julie’s grandson is there calling her to him.  I look around their backyard to see her on the phone, but paying attention to her grandson.  I look back at the kid to see what’s going on.

OH HELL NAW!!

That little punk just Lily a flower through the chain-link fence!

Lily takes the flower and goes back to her play set.

Nope!

Nope!


I’m going to Home Depot next weekend to put up a wooden fence.




This is a writing prompt from my 365 Writing Project Series.  This prompt was about neighbors.

1:08


Jacques stood at the corner of 8th and Linus facing north into the park.  He pulled his phone out of his pocket and checked the time.  
1:08
But he already knew that.  

He took a breath and even said a quick prayer.  He let out a slight chuckle because he had never thought of doing that before.  Maybe this time will be different.   Maybe it will change things.  It was worth a shot.  He didn't have much time.  He walked into Rogers Park in the direction of the benches near the knolls.  
This scene has played out many times before.  This time had to be different.  This time had to be the one.  He was going to do what he felt needed to be done and then hope for the best.  
Off in the distance he could see her.  His window of opportunity was short and he had to get to her without interruption.  
From the left a homeless man came up to Jacques.
"Sir, can you spare some loose......"
"Here you go Reggie..." Jacques hands over his wallet before Reggie could even finish his sentence.  He hopped over the log border, started off into a sprint and stopped a few yards from her.  There she sat on a park bench reading a book.  She was beautiful.  He's never seen her any other way.  He slowly approached her as she moved her bangs behind her left ear, licked her middle finger, turned the page, uncrossed her legs and placed her left leg over the right one.
He stood awkwardly, and softly called out to her, "Katherine?"
Katherine looked up and held her hand up to block the sun, "Yes?"
"Hi.  My name is Jacques. Jacques Copeland."
"Do I know you?"
"Currently, no.   In the sense of the meta-physical universe, you know all about me and I know all about you.  Look, I know you don't understand, but do you mind if I sit next to you?  I swear I mean you know harm."
"I don't know."
"If it makes you feel safer, there's going to be a couple of cops walking around the corner in a couple seconds."
"How do you???"
Just like Jacques promised, two park and wildlife police officers in conversation walk around the corner and stop by a nearby table.
"How??  How did you??"
Jacques sighed and took a breath, "I've always hoped the explanation would somehow remain.  It takes up precious time.  If you can believe it or not, I am living the same fifty-two minutes over and over again.  We've had this conversation and some derivative of it numerous times.  I'm stuck in time loop, for a reason I've not come close to understanding."

"I think I should leave."
"I knew you were going to say that.  You ALWAYS say that! But Katherine, we've sat on this bench for countless minutes talking to one another.  We've gotten to know one another.  I know your name is Katherine Rhodes.  You're twenty-seven years old and a pharmacy technician.  You called in sick today and came here to read.  It reminds you of your parents.  They've been gone six years.  You like peanut butter but not jelly.  You prefer your mashed potatoes prepared with the skin still on.  You enjoy tea with extra lemon.  You've been to every continental state and have a picture from each state in a mural on your living room.
So you've told me.
You've also been hurt before.  In such a way you can never really open up to a man your innermost feelings and dreams."
"I don't ever remember meeting you."
"You never do.  No one ever does.  Just myself.  Everyone goes back to doing what they were doing when it starts.  At two o’clock, everyone leaves, and I return to one-oh-eight and have to relive this over and over again.  In the span of countless fifty-two minutes over and over, I've witnessed and learned things that other's forget.  But none of that really matters.  The only thing that matters is what I've come here to tell you. "
Katherine stared right into Jacques' eyes.
"I love you Katherine.  I love you.  I want to say I've loved you from the time I first laid eyes on you, but it's been so long and I've wanted to tell you so many times.  But not every meeting comes out the same.  I only have a short amount of time for you to fall in love with me, but right now it doesn't matter. It can be fate, course correction, or I'm just a lucky guy to be able to spend as much time with you as I have.  But I fully believe that the whole point of this... this event. Is because of us.  God.  The Universe.  Whatever wants me to get it right.  It wants me to open up to you just like you've opened up to me little by little over the course of, I don't know how long I've been doing this.  It wants me to tell you that you can be loved, Katherine.  That you can be loved by me and we can beat this thing and when it turns 2:01 we're still going to be here together and we're going to cherish each moment afterwards."
Katherine took a second to comprehend it all.
"If what you say is true and you really do know all this about me.  Have you ever tried this before?  This... This confession?"
"No.  This is the first time.  I've never told you how I've felt.  I realized I was holding that back when we've disclosed ourselves to each other over the..... What I can only assume have been years I've been meeting you here."
"Years?"

"Years."

"If it's only fifty-two minutes when do you sleep?"
"I usually just go to a park bench and sleep until the next reset."
"And during these 'resets' you go back fifty-two minutes in time??"
"Yes, to the exact geographical point I was at 1:08."
"And you're the only one that remembers?"
"As far as I know.  Everyone is doing what they were doing fifty-two minutes prior as well with no recollection of what just transpired."
"What all have you done?  Seen?"
"A lot!  There's only so much you can get accomplished in 52 minutes.  So it's been pretty much all been legal." 
Katherine sat there, trying to take it all in.  It was all new to her.  This man, new to her.  But he knew all about her.  He knew things little things only those close to her knew.  She didn't want to be hurt, but she didn't think she could not at least take the chance.
"All right.  I believe you.  I believe everything."
"Oh, Katherine!"
Jacques leaned forward, embraced her and squeezed her tight.
"You better not be a psycho!"
Jacques laughed, "No."
Katherine embraced him as well.  A genuine smile crossed his lips as he closed his eyes finally feeling safe for the first time in.... in a very long time.
He opened his eyes and Jacques is standing on the corner of 8th and Linus facing north into the park.  He pulled his phone out of his pocket and checked the time.  
1:08

But he already knew that.  

Autobiography - Page 112 [Writing Contest Entry]


You started writing your autobiography earlier this year. In 484 words or fewer, tell us what you’ve written so far on page 112.




… and that is why my family was kicked out of Sugar Land, Texas and told to never return for the rest of Betty White’s life.


***

                It wasn’t long after the Sugar Land banishment when I got the call from The Workshop.  My new handler would be an agent by the name of Bradly Cooper.  No, not THAT Bradly Cooper, it’s just a guy with the same name as THAT Bradly Cooper.  I made it a point not to bring up the exact similarities of the name to my new handler.  I’m sure he had heard it all before – a lot like I did growing up with the last name of “Bolton.”

                “Bolton, huh?” a teacher, employer or police officer would start, “any relation to Michael?”

                Most of the times I’d say no and get my speeding ticket. But when MySpace and Facebook started to become a thing I decided to put my aforementioned Photoshop skills into play.  I started to superimpose a picture of the soulful R&B singer and me into pictures together.  We’d be playing softball; baking cookies; having Thanksgiving dinner; but not Christmas dinner – he’s a busy guy.  So now I would say, “Heck yeah we’re related!!” and I’d show them the pictures.  Those idiots would be so jealous.

                But Agent Bradly Cooper wasn’t related to THAT Bradly Cooper because who would in the Cooper family would name two kids “Bradly”?  When the wife and I were trying to pick out baby names for one of the kids (I honestly don’t remember which one, but let’s say it was Emma), we couldn’t pick a name that had already been claimed by a family member.  We couldn’t claim it even it was an in-law or a middle name.  We also couldn’t claim it if it was my mother-in-law’s elementary school mortal enemy.  So it’s safe to say that Agent Bradly Cooper wasn’t related to the “Sexiest Man Alive” but I’m sure he isn’t too horribly deformed.  I’m assuming he’s partially deformed since he does have a desk job.

                When Agent Bradly Cooper called me, I was standing in the check-out lane at Target.  I had just run in there for a new iron, but ended up with about three-hundred dollars’ worth of glorious household items of various solid primary colors.  We talked while Olive the twenty-something cashier scanned my impulse items.  Agent Bradly Cooper informed me of changes in the ranks and protocols since the Livingston assignment fiasco.  I’m a team player so I understood.  It would mean working with new agents and over greater geographical areas.  I scheduled time to meet him in Washington and noticed he sounded a lot like Betty White.

                “Bolton, huh?”  Olive asked when handing me back my card. “Do you know there’s a Troy Bolton in High School Musical?”

If you're interested in contacting Eric D. Bolton for any of your freelance writing needs, please contact me at ericdbolton@mail.com