Across the Street

March 4, 2008
By Guanghui Wang, Mountain View, CA

Her steps were sprightly and her feet barely hit the scratchy concrete as she pranced across the street.

Etta would be elated to see her, Norah thought, although she can’t show it well.

But Norah would know, because Norah knew her best.

Norah’s feet caught in the crack of the steps leading to one twenty seven, Kemp Street. Her momentary stumble did nothing to dowse her spirits as her boney finger pressed against the doorbell.

Ding donggg…

The faint chime reverberated through out the house, and Norah’s keen ears caught the sound.

Her tongue flicked out to swipe at her parched lips as she tried to quell her growing excitement. At least to a competent level.

The door opened with a rebellious squeak and Oliver’s tanned face poked out. His light blue eyes widened at the scrawny girl at his steps.

“Well. You’re here early.” He mumbled, his body blocked by the door’s wooden frame.

Norah shrugged. “I guess.”

“Yeah. …How was the trip?” His light eyes flickered between Norah’s mud caked feet and the woven bracelet tied casually at her wrist.

“The usual. The hotel was nice. The beaches were warm. The siblings were noisy. The parents lame. The usual.” Was her nonchalant reply. Her eyes, too big for her slim face, stared at him undauntedly.

“That’s good.” His mouth quirked to one side as he looked back at her.

Norah’s feet were beginning to drum with unease. “Well?” Her eyebrows knit together.


“Are you going to let me in?” She snapped.

Oliver looked at her blankly. “If you hose down your feet. What’d you do, dance in dog crap?” He shot back, amiable facades dropped.

Norah scowled at his vexing attitude. “I stepped in some mud.”

He smirked. “I’m sure.”

She threw her hands up in frustration. “I came to pick up Etta. Can you just let me in already?”

Oliver slipped out quickly, closing the door. He stayed deaf to Norah’s indignant, “Excuse me! Etta? Hello?”, and strode over to the hose sprawled across the green lawn.

She cursed him under her breath as he blasted her feet with icy water.

“Now that you’re finished being ridiculous, can you please let me pick up Etta.”

“She can wait.” Oliver said before sitting down on the steps.

Norah squinted at him suspiciously. “What do you mean by that?”

“I mean, you can pick her up later.”

“What? What? Excuse me? You can’t just decide when or when not I can -”

“Well, Etta and I…we’ve grown attached.” He drawled, a lazy smirk settling on his face.

“What? You hate her, remember? She always stares at you, right? That’s what you said last time you babysat her. Besides, Etta’s faithful. She wouldn’t just like you. I mean, it’s you. She can’t possibly like you. You’re… you.” Her nose wrinkled.

He smiled cockily. “Yeah, well. I have my charms.”

“Well, whatever. I don’t care how fond of each other you are, let me in right now. I’m going to take her home. ”

“NO!” He yelled.


Oliver cringed at his slip. “I mean, no, she’s asleep. Come back tomorrow.”

“Oh.” Norah shrugged. “I can just carry her.”

“Yeah… she’s been getting heavier…might not want to do that. Besides, your house is so far.” Oliver said quickly.

This managed a chuckle out of her. “I live across the street. And how heavy could she get? I’m not some porcelain doll; I can carry Etta for two minutes.” Norah said, shooting him an amused glance.

“Can’t she stay at my place for a little while longer?” Oliver whined.

Norah paled. “Oh God. You’ve done something to her, haven’t you? Oh God. You sick, sick TWERP! I knew you would be up to no good, but Mom insisted you’d take care of her. You should have heard her praise you. ‘Oliver is very responsible’, wah wah wah. …Oh GOD, what did you DO?” She panicked, flinging her limbs in a dramatic mime of the sick deeds that Oliver committed upon Etta.

“Whoa, chill, OK? I didn’t do anything to Etta. I mean, everything was her fault, really.” Oliver grumbled.

An accusing finger jabbed him in the chest. “I knew it!” Norah crowed triumphantly, but then wilted at the morbid thoughts that ran through her mind. “What…what happened? She’s still…she’s not…” Her legs buckled and she plopped onto the asphalt weakly.

Oliver sighed and stared at his feet in guilt. “I wasn’t my fault, I swear…”


“See for yourself.” His tone was remorseful as he silently padded into his home. Minutes later, he placed a glass container in front of Norah.

“Oh thank God.” Norah murmured, her fingers stroking the glass lovingly. “Hello, baby. Ettie! Ettie! Wake up!”

A clump of limbs scuttled towards Norah from within the cage.

Norah screamed.

“CHILL OUT!” Oliver clapped his hand over her mouth.

“She’s missing a leg! Oh my poor baby…my sweet, helpless, Ettie. Ohhh.” She moaned in despair.

Oliver rolled his eyes. “It wasn’t my fault. Little Miss Stupid here found her way out somehow and got caught under a chair. At least I saved her before someone crushed her, right?” He piped up optimistically.

Norah shot him a withering glare. “You just shut up already. You’ve done enough.” Her eyes softened like melted butter as she gazed at Etta. “We’re leaving. And never coming back. Not to abusers like you.”

“Hey, now, that’s not fair. It wasn’t my fault! Hey!” Oliver sputtered after her retreating form.

“You’re safe now, baby. No dumb Olivers to come and scare you.”

Her steps were sprightly and her feet barely hit the scratchy concrete as she pranced across the street.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.


MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!