Sometimes...he’d stand on the hill across the street, staring at my front door for hours, waiting for my son to get back.
by Alison Lyke
As relieved as I was to move from an urban area into the suburbs, I was concerned that my son had lost his neighborhood friends. Single childhood is precarious and lonely, even for the well adjusted.
There were new friends to be had in our little condo community, but our son didn’t really take a shine to anyone until the new next-door neighbors moved in, about a month after us. There were two moms and a baby girl, it seemed, I didn’t notice the little boy until our son encountered him on a bike ride.
“He lives right next store. Isn’t that cool!” my son said.
Perfect. I was glad to solve the mystery of why a couple and baby needed such a large condo. The two boys spent many hours running around the complex, lost in a haze of semi-unsupervised boyhood adventure.
Then, his new playmate started coming around a lot more, but he never came inside. The kid had a knack for ringing the doorbell just as I was the most busy. When I opened the door, he always asked, “Is he there?”
Often, he was not. My son participated in several afterschool activities and he did have other friends in other neighborhoods.
Sometimes, the little boy would say, “I’ll wait until he’s home.” Then he’d stand on the hill across the street, staring at my front door for hours, waiting for my son to get back.
I thought I might just not answer the doorbell when my son wasn’t in, which turned into a huge issue. The boy would ring the doorbell relentlessly until I answered. I thought, maybe I should talk to his moms, but they didn’t seem to be home very much. The boy was often alone in the afternoons before they came home from work.
One morning, on the way to an early meeting, I drove past the bus stop and noticed that my son’s playmate wasn’t there with the other children.
“Is your friend sick?” I asked later that afternoon, hoping for a few days respite from the doorbell.
“He’s never at school. I think he’s homeschooled.”
I mentally rolled my eyes. That explains why he’s so lonely.
A few nights later, I was startled awake by the boy’s ring. It was around one a.m.
“Is he there?” the boy asked when I swung open the door.
I sent him on his way, making sure I saw him go into his own house. I resolved to talk to his parents as soon as I could. The next morning, he was standing on the hill, watching my son as he left for school.
Around noon, I started out to speak with his parents, but they were loading up a moving truck. Well, that takes care of that. The poor kid was just having anxiety about moving, and missing his friend.
But, why live someplace only five months? Why pack up and move so often, and with the little baby girl in tow?
“I’m sorry your friend moved,” I told my son that evening.
“Yeah,” he shrugged, “I guess.”
Several days later, the doorbell rang. I knew that insistent ring, it wouldn’t be anyone else.
“Is he there?” His playmate asked.
I nodded yes and watched as my son ran off to play with the boy.
"I thought your friend moved,” I said over our dinner last night, an unambitious, mid-week, tuna casserole.
“I looked in his condo. It’s all emptied out. No furniture or curtains. I watched his moms load up their van.” I said, starting to feel nervous.
“Well, he does still live there. He said has lived there for a long time, and he probably will live there forever.” My son said.
I’m shaking while I type this. It’s almost one a.m. I’m not sure what I’m going to do when the doorbell rings.