Inspired by the book, “642 Things to Write About.” Please note, this is a fictional story.
He stood in my front doorway with longer sandy brown hair than when I last saw him two years ago. His hair was better kept back then, much like his clothes were compared to now.
Sam lived next door with his mom and dad for a few years before he moved away during the summer prior to 10th grade. His family always kept to themselves. The only person I saw coming and going from the house, other than Sam's mom and dad, was an older lady who I assumed was Sam's grandmother. I would see them leaving the house and upon their return hours later, Sam would have a fresh haircut and new clothes. It wasn’t that I was spying on him, he was just so cute at the time, but I knew so little about him. He was the handsome, mysterious boy next door; the one I wanted to get to know but never seemed to have the chance to. Plus, I was shy and an introvert. I kept my head down in school, was always early to class, and I read a lot. I wasn't the type to be courting boys.
But now here he was, two years later, the summer before our senior year, standing on my front porch. Before I could make any more unfortunate observations about the decline in his appearance, Sam said with urgency, “Maddie, you have to help me. Please. I never moved away, Maddie. I still live next door.”
My eyes grew wide. I was so confused. All I knew about being in a family was that dinner was served on the table at 6:00 pm, and despite being 17 years old, my mom and dad still kissed me goodnight and told me they loved me. What Sam was saying made no rational sense. There's no way he still lived next door. How would his family never let him leave the house? He had to have moved; I hadn’t seen him in two years.
“He's kept me in the attic since Grandma Shirley died. Please help me,” he begged, his soul pouring out of his eyes and into mine. He quickly glanced over at his house in a panic as if making sure no one was coming for him.
With those words, my racing mind stopped coming up with explanations as to why I hadn't seen him in two years. I stopped speculating. My heart dropped to my stomach; it was a feeling I had never experienced before. The only thing I could only focus now was the terror on his face that was soon accompanied by tears flooding from his wide, fear-stricken eyes. I didn't hesitate to believe him.
I stood there for a moment in shock, staring at the boy who I once found so attractive. His clothes were now hanging from his thin, bony body, he had no shoes on, and there were bruises around his ankles that varied in color from purple to blue, and green to yellow.
Panic flooded my heart and chest. Instead of speaking, I grabbed the front of his baggy shirt, feeling his ribs against my fingertips, and pulled him into my house. He willingly came inside, staring at me as I slammed the door shut and locked the deadbolt. I looked at Sam as if I had just seen a ghost. My heart was pounding inside my chest, beating hard like a bass drum at a rock concert.
I looked up at him and said, “Okay.”