As I open the front door, I am blinded by the summer sun after being in my dark room for so long. The concrete burns my feet as I press my feet down on the ground. The busy street in front of me was buzzing with cars trying to get from one place to another. Traffic would be even worse during the school year because there are many schools within my community. The mailbox was left open with a stack of letters and ads stuffed inside. I single-handedly grab all the mails, but they fall to the ground. Looking up, I notice a strange man in front of the driveway looking out onto the street. He had a long untamed beard, wore sunglasses, sweatpants, a Giants baseball cap, and a carried a worn out backpack that was stuffed so much that it was popping open. He seemed like the kind of man that would sit in front of Home Depot, smoking as he waits for someone to give him a job.
I grab the last magazine and close the front door behind me as I go back inside. I place the mail down on the table and open the curtains letting the sunlight in. The man is still standing in front of our driveway. Moments later, he walks near the bushes in front of our house and disappears. When he reappears, he stands in our front yard. Why is he in my yard? I rotate my fidget spinner anxiously as sweat starts dripping from my forehead. Someone taps my shoulder causing me to jump.
“What are you doing?” Niki, my friend, asks.
I point towards the yard, Niki’s eyes widen as she sees the man standing in my yard. She knows he’s not supposed to be in my yard. Niki yanks my arm and pulls me to the ground. We crouch down and peek over the windowsill. She twirls her hair around her finger and I keep spinning my fidget spinner.
“Is he going to rob our house or something?” Niki whispers.
Her usual confident voice is gone. And it’s replaced by fear, which isn’t common. All I could think of was what could go wrong. My dad isn’t even home and my mom is in the backyard. I would call my mom but, I can’t move. My legs are stiff and my fingernails are digging into the windowsill. My eyes are glued to the man, examining his every move, like a predator watching their prey before the attack. Expect, I’m not the predator. Instead, I am the frightened prey with her scared friend.
My brain was flooding with what ifs. What if he robs the house like Niki said? What if something happens to us?
He looks around to check if anyone is watching. Walking across the yard, he disappears again into the bushes. Into the shrubs that are next to the fence so you can’t see the person. I used to play in those bushes back when I was 8 years old. From the outside, you wouldn't be able to see anything that's happening in the bushes. He could be doing anything in there.
The ADT alarm system beeps and in its usual monotone voice says, “Back door.”
“Riya? What are you guys looking at?” My mom questions as she closes the back door.
I finally stand up but my legs are weak. I’ve never been so scared for something like this. My mom notices my worried expression and tilts her head asking what’s wrong.
“There’s a stranger in the bushes!” Niki blurts out, unable to control herself.
My mom raises her eyebrows, doubting what Niki said. She walks to the window slowly, the old wooden floors creaking every step she takes.
“He’s hiding in bushes. You can’t see him but he went in there. We saw him,” I explain.
The bushes rustle and you could definitely tell that there was someone in there. The bushes rustle and you could tell that there was someone in there. Without waiting any longer, my mom grabs the phone and punches in a bunch of numbers. It was the police. Niki and I listen carefully to every word the police officer and my mom say. My mom ultimately ends the call and simply says, “The police are on their way.”
I expect the police officers to come quickly, but they’re taking forever. Or it might just be because I can’t wait much longer. The police car finally pulls up in the driveway and my worry is slightly gone. The police knock on the door and my mom rushes to the door, swinging it open. I don’t listen to half their conversation. Instead, my eyes focus on the bushes. No movement and no noise. My mom points out the bushes where the man is hiding and she stands far away while both the officers approach the bushes. They seem to hesitate for a second but they disappear into the bushes too. Five minutes pass and the officers finally emerge from the bushes with the man who was clutching his backpack. He’s not wearing any handcuffs or anything to make sure he doesn’t run away. In fact, the police officers aren’t even holding him. They just tell him to leave. How could he just leave like that? Maybe he wasn’t doing anything suspicious in there.
“There’s nothing to worry about ma’am,” the lady officer informs my mom.
“What was he doing then?” my mom demands with curiosity.
“He wasn’t doing anything but sleeping. Turns out he’s homeless. Without any place to go, he decided to sleep in the bushes.” the other police explains.
Knowing that he’s homeless, I feel really bad for all the negative thoughts I had about him.