The Boy Next Door

Flash Fiction Fridays

It can’t be…

Marie stood in her driveway in pajama pants and a t-shirt, a bag of flyers and advertisements clutched firmly in her hand, her jaw hanging slack in surprise. She stared at the boy pushing a gas-powered mower across the patch of land in front of his house, the house next door to Marie’s. She stared at him with eyes wide, heart pounding, hands trembling.

It can’t be…can it?

She found herself walking toward him, one step at a time, her slippers picking up clumps of freshly-mowed grass. “Excuse me,” she heard her voice say, although she couldn’t remember having opened her mouth. “Excuse me, young man?”

At first the boy didn’t seem to have heard her, but when his head turned along with the mower’s path his gaze caught hers and he let go of the mower’s dead-switch. “Sorry, were you talking to me?” he asked. His voice was still fresh, young. He was probably about twelve… Precisely the right age…

Marie thought she smiled, but she wasn’t quite sure. “Your family just moved in, right?” she began, conscious of the strange shakiness of her voice. When the boy nodded she added, “I’m Marie, from next door. What’s your name?”

The boy opened his mouth to answer, but another voice did it for him. “James!” called a blond-haired woman from the house. “Supper’s ready!”

Marie glanced at the woman, waved and smiled as best she could, and then looked back at the boy. No resemblance at all, she thought. He could very well be adopted…

“Sorry,” the boy said as he walked, abandoning the mower in the middle of the lawn. “She hates letting supper get cold. Maybe we’ll come over later to meet you!” And with that he was up the two steps on the front of the house and in through the door, gone.

Marie stared after him, her ears echoing with the sound of his voice, her eyes blinking back tears as she mentally compared the hair, the eyes, the cheekbones.

There was no doubt about it, she told herself. No doubt at all in her mind.

The boy next door was her grandson.

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