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Boy Next Door
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Byron heard noises coming from the den. "That's odd, I thought Mum and Dad had left fifteen minutes ago" he mumbled as he rushed downstairs to check. It was surprising to see the girl with the long black hair from across the street. He's greeted her a few times when she rides by on her pink bicycle but she never responds.

She was in deep telephone conversation in the living room; he hated to disturb her so he waited quietly in the doorway.

"Yes, I think he will...soon. I'm so excited, can't wait!" Audibly he heard her say. "No, no...just us, a quiet dinner for immediate family. See you,'bye". She had a pleasant sounding voice as though she was constantly smiling. She turned suddenly sensing Byron's presence.

"Oh,...uh...he..llo there, I didn't know anyone was here."

She stood up and walked slowly towards Byron who was still standing by the door.

"We have problems with our telephone, I sorta bumped into your parents and they said it's okay for me to use your phone.  You must be Byron?" She smiled sweetly and held out her hand to Byron.

"Is that an American accent?" Byron asked as he held his hand out to shake hers.

"Yes, purely Californian, born and raised in Los Angeles, your Mom said you've visited there twice?" She asked as she stepped slowly toward the front door with Byron following her lead. Byron couldn't help gazing at her long flowing black hair. It swayed as she walked. It was hypnotic. How many times had he hoped he could meet her. How many times had he tried to time his jogging in the park to her bike riding but he never could get it right. Now, here she is.

"Yes, I've been to Disneyland. I enjoyed 'Captain EO', I saw it twice." Byron confessed. He felt a little gauche beside this American girl. She was so young yet appeared so worldly talking about her globe-trotting with her parents who are both in the travel business.

They crossed the lane to her house chatting gaily about anything and everything that came to their young minds. In a short time they got to know each other well. They stood by her front door, sat on the steps, strolled through her modest garden, and time stood still for Byron. He immersed himself in their conversation and in his young heart he knew he was falling in love with this beguiling girl. Her face lit up when she spoke, her voice was music to his ears, she was lovely, she was witty, she was everything Byron ever wanted in a girl. He had never had a steady girlfriend in his life and he now understood why. He knew there had to be a reason.

"It was wonderful speaking to you. Your brother told me you're a good kid and he's right!" She remarked, gave him a quick peck on the cheek, and disappeared behind the front door of her house.

"My brother? She knows my brother?" Byron couldn't believe his ears. Reluctantly he left her front door, her smooth voice still singing in his ears.

That evening he waited to speak to his brother. Dinner seemed to take forever. Every mouthful of food seemed to take ages to chew. He needed to speak to him about Julianne but he didn't know where to begin. Should he ask if his brother had known her for a while now? How can I do this without appearing interested in Julianne? "Oh help," Byron mumbled to himself.

When dinner was finally over, he knocked on his brother's bedroom door. "Michael?" Byron whispered forcefully through the cracks.

"Door's open, come in 'kid'."

"I don't like you calling me 'Kid', when did that start?" Byron knew he had heard that moniker from Julianne today. He felt defeated.

"Hey pal, lighten up, what are you getting so cross for?" Michael rumpled Byron's hair.

"Just want to know, uh...I mean...I was wondering." Byron didn't know what to say, he tried to start again but Michael interrupted.

"Julianne thought you were great to talk to. She was thrilled to meet you and was impressed by you. I liked it when she said that you're a good 'kid'." Michael remarked with a smile and a nod of approval to Byron.

"Michael, I didn't know you knew her, you've never mentioned her name before...and where are you going all dressed up like that?" Byron saw that Michael wasn't wearing his trainers. He always wore his trainers. Tonight he's got on his special shoes, Byron frowned. "Dear brother, I can't tell you everything that happens to me, or tell you what goes on every minute of my life nor where I'm're beginning to sound like Mum."

His brother looked agitated, Michael noticed. He's never seen that look on his face before. Michael searched for the reason but never considered it could be Julianne.

"Are you worried about something? Was there something she said that upset you? What's wrong Ronnie?" Byron didn't mind the nickname Ronnie, his Mum used that nickname when he was a baby and somehow it stuck, besides, it is better than kid, Byron pouted.

"No, nothing's wrong. It just surprised me to find a stranger using our phone, I may have been a bit curt, that's all." Byron lied.

That evening Byron couldn't go to sleep thinking of Julianne. He vacillated between several approaches he could make. He thought he'd just come out and tell her that he loved her and she's the only girl for him, or, he could openly court her first and let things take care of itself, or, should he write her a long soulful love letter? Byron fell asleep thinking only of Julianne. His last thoughts were of her.

Byron woke up with a start. He was late for school. He hurried through his breakfast, dressed hastily and dashed off to the Bus Stop. The day went by quickly for him as he had no other aim today but to speak to Julianne. Coming home from school and racing up the stairs to his room, he saw Michael rushing out of his all dressed in his beige suit.

"Michael, who died? The last time you wore that was at Uncle Ted's funeral!" Byron joked and shadow boxed with his brother.

"You could call it a funeral, I guess. It'll be the burial of my 'singlehood'." Michael jostled back ducking Byron's uppercut.

"Your what-hood?" Byron was almost to his bedroom door when he heard his brother shout at the top of his lungs, "I'm getting engaged! I'm getting engaged to be married! Can you believe it? Mum and Dad are over the moon and I know you'll love your new 'sister-in-law'-



Byron blinked. He couldn't believe his ears. In these past few weeks he had heard huddled conversations that sounded important between Michael and his parents but he never had a clue.

Michael was gone in a flash smugly tucking a small black velvet box in his jacket pocket, whistling in the hallway.

Byron slowly opened his bedroom door- his heart crushed. He sat for a moment at his little writing desk, opened the top drawer, and took out his Game Boy. He checked to see if the batteries were in there as he remembers borrowing them for a while to use on his Walkman. He switched it on and heard the familiar Tetris theme. Byron smiled and couldn't wait to start his game. He enjoyed his Game Boy. His Grandpa gave it to him last year on his twelfth birthday. He'll worry about Julianne later.


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