American Bedtime Coming of Age

“You’ll never know unless you try.” She shrugged, already grabbing her stuff to leave. I huffed, going back to my computer. 

The first time I saw him was only a few months ago. When a summer afternoon breeze drifted the curtains open to my window, and I saw him. A brunette, with glasses and a book in hand. Resting his arms on the windowsill, and the breeze seemed to ruffle his hair. 

I was left dumbstruck for a moment, he seemed so perfect, completely surreal. 

After a while, I realized myself drifting to that window. Watching him, reading, listening to music, once I even caught him in his bathing suit. 

I tried to look him up, but the devilishly handsome brunette, with a killer six pack, didn’t show up well on Instagram. All the other searches were either too far, or way too fake. 

Therefore, my sister needed me to bite the bullet. After catching me staring out the window, or stretching myself over to catch a glimpse. So, every time I complained or said just about anything about him, my sister would say the same thing. 

“You’ll never know unless you try.” 

Did she mean ask him out? Hell, maybe she meant just going and talking to him. It didn’t really matter. It could have been a simple tease to get a rise out of me, and make me shrink back to myself. 

Yet, everytime I looked at the neighboring door, or thought to ask my parents about the house. A stubborn bubble caught in my throat, the dam never letting my words pass. Maybe it was for the best. 

“What’s for the best?” I jumped, almost crashing my computer to the floor. My sister was incorrectly perched in the doorway, looking at me as though I’d grown a second head. “You were muttering to yourself.” 

“Sorry, I was just thinking out loud,” I apologized, reorganizing my school papers that were strewn around my bed. 

“Are you still daydreaming about a big, handsome boy over there?” she teased, and I threw wadded paper at her. She laughed, and slipped past the door, coming to rest back on the bed. 

“Where’d you even go?” I asked, remembering her previous leaving. 

“Well I got sick of your love drunk eyes gazing at the window,” she laughed, already bridging her own papers around her. “I had to go throw up.” 

I rolled my eyes, restraining myself from glancing one last look at the window. Not only would it bear any difference, but it wouldn't help the onslaught of teasing from my little sister. 

He just seemed so different, even in the slight glances from the window. It almost didn't feel real, like every time I saw him was a trick of light. I had never seen him outside of the house, not running, or even in their front yard. 

“You know, why don't you just ask mom?” my sister suggested, once again pulling me from my thoughts. 

“I mean, I could, but like what if she thinks I’m being creepy,” I said doubtfully. 

“Yeah, I think we passed creepy a while ago,” my sister berated, and rolled my eyes for what felt like the fourth this hour. 

Part of me, a very large part, wanted to keep it to myself. Ignore my sister's teasing and leave it as a mystery, but I knew I would regret it. Leaving it would only let more wonders manifest to me. 

My mother, Erica, was the next option. Maybe she had some answers, and could finally pull back a little more of the curtain. 


“Mom, did you ever meet the neighbors when we moved in?” I asked, pouring the egg into the whisking bowl. We were making pancakes the morning after the conversation with my sister. Usually, cooking breakfast was the last thing I wanted to do on a sunday morning, but I needed information. 

“Which ones? The Thomposons?” my mother interrogated suspiciously, mixing her own bowl that rested in front of her. 

“No, the other side. You know, like the ones that face my bedroom window,” I replied innocently.

“I don't believe we have.” she paused her stirring, looking up to me in suspicion. “Why?” 

“Oh you know, just curious.” I shrugged it off, trying to let it be. If she didn’t know anything, there was no point in continuing to ask her, and start making it a problem. Or worse, she starts getting suspicious and asks my sister. 

Though curiosity was eating me away, and I wasn’t ever one to be considered patient. 

“So, you never knew their son?” I asked simply. 

“To be honest, I didn’t even know if anybody even lived there. I mean, just look at it, all dirty and creaky. I thought for sure it was abandoned.” she replied. “Why would you think a man lived there?” 

“Uh,” I hesitated, was it really worth telling her for information. “Well, sometimes I can hear him playing music, and on occasion I see him reading by the window.” 

“Oh, the guy your sister was telling me about,” she offered. 

“She already told you!” I groaned, annoyed. Of course my rat of a sibling couldn't hold it to herself, it was probably eating her alive. 

“Well what does she have to say about it? She’s only told me about your little staring problem,” my mother said, hiding her pestering behind a genuine curiotsy. 

“She always says the same thing, ‘You;ll never know unless you try.’” I mocked, throwing my hands in frustration. I was getting nowhere, there was still a cute guy out my window, and I had nothing else. 

“Why don't you go say something,” she suggested. “Just go and be yourself, that way you learn more about the neighbors, and talk to the cute boy.” 

“It’s hard mom, I mean, what am I even supposed to say?” 

“What do you think Tanya? He’s not another boy from one of those old stories.” Mom referenced my bookshelf in my bedroom, most of which were romance novels. “He’s a real guy, you know, he isn’t gonna climb through the window himself. Maybe your sister's right, you’ll never know unless you try.” 

I bit my lip, trying to hold from some nasty comments about her own social problems. 

“I realize that,” I argued back. “I was just wondering, you know.” 

The bowl of whisked eggs was long forgotten, but my mother still seemed to be on task and dragged it from my reach. I still felt more lost, maybe more so, I just wanted to know who he was. Yet, nobody had an answer, or an explanation. 

“I’m just saying it might be good for you,” Erica persuaded, her tone soft and caring. “I know this move has been hard on you, but staying in the house all day isn’t going to make it any better. You’re going to be going to school in the fall, and there will be tons of people there. Just go talk to him, what's the worst that can happen.”

I smiled, she was trying her best. Maybe, in the afternoon, I could go and talk to them. Yet, for now I still had to make breakfast, and make sure those eggs were really scrambled.


Turns out, thought and execution were two very different things. Everytime I wanted to go over there, something pulled me back. The front room wasn’t clean, my friend from our old town had called, I wanted to make lunch for everybody. Something just had to come in the way. 

This seeming curse, or procrastination as my sister called it, just took over the other things. Though everytime I noticed the boy in the window, it was like another stab to the heart. He didn’t even notice me, I mean probably nothing more than a creeping window girl. 

Everytime, I noticed something new about him. His hair was always in a slight swoop to the left, and it was more of a slight red when the sun hit in the evening. The boy only ever read one book, though everytime I crammed to see the tile, it was always just out of sight. 

Throughout the summer, the days began to stretch. Begging for myself to meet with him the next day, then the next, or maybe next week. Days on the calendar began to scratch off, and the big mark for school was fast approaching. 

Then, I had school in the morning, this was my last chance. I didn’t know where he went to school, to be honest I didn’t even know his name, but I wasn’t going to risk him going to boarding school far away. 

So that morning, I had taken out the baking supplies, pulling together a lovely batch of cookies. Stalked myself up, pulling on a coat, as the September winds were coming in, and walked to the house. 

My feet seemed to drag, pulling my invisible restraints back to my house. But no, I had to do this. This was my final chance, I needed to just know him. His name, his school, his insta name, anything. 

Then I came in front of the house, it seemed just as my mother had said, old. There was ween covering the lawn, and I wasn’t even sure if the porch would be able to support my weight. I doubted myself all the way to the door. Could this be the right house? Maybe there was some special back entrance? Yet, I stood in front of the door, begging the wood to hold my weight. 

I knocked, once, twice, held my breath for a moment, no one was coming. A separate part of me wanted to knock again, bang hard enough the door fell on its own. For what though, a boy, was I really going that crazy. 

Then the door opened, revealing an old lady with a crooked smile. Her hoobly form came with a heavy moth stench.  In my shock I almost dropped the cookies, but caught myself. 

“Hi ma’am. I was just wondering if your son was here?” I hesitated, it wasn’t like we were eight and asked him to come play. I definitely should have planned this. 

“I’m sorry!” she practically yelled, scaring out of my socks for the second time. “I don’t have no son!” 

“Oh, sorry, I was talking about the boy in the upstairs bedroom. I live next door, and I just wanted to,” I paused, thinking over how to approach this. “Talk to him, you know, he seems to be quite a nice young man.” 

The lady looked as though I had grown another head, her eyes wide and tracing me. Her hands were shaking on the grip of her cane, and the other resting on her lower back. She looked as though she could fall over and die if the wind blew too hard. 

“Oh, I see you brought cookies,” she deflected, making me switch carefully to the new topic. 

“Yes, I was hoping to bring them to him,” I offered, trying to get us back on track.

“No, I already told you I have no son, or man. Nobody lives in the house but me,” she argued, hungrily glaring at the cookies. 

“Right sorry, the boy you know. He lives upstairs, he reads that book” I was growing far too frustrated to be handling this with any patience. 

“My son long gone, died,” she stated simply, as though nothing was wrong with the omission. I thought I heard her wrong, there was no way the boy was dead. I must have seen him everyday for the past three months. “He read books all day, but now they grow dusty. I can get myself upstairs to clean them.” 

I stared agape for a moment, was she just a crazy old lady, or was she onto something. 

“Right, well. I’m sorry to have wasted your time.” I apologized, but the woman jumped.

“Wait, leave the cookies,” she begged, I sighed and dropped them into her hands. 


When I arrived back at the house, I was still shaking with questions. Frustrating bubbling over everything, this meeting was supposed to fix the problem, not make it ten times worse. 

I heaved down on my bed, huffing from undeposited anger. Then a wind caught through the room, and I noticed him resting on his windowsill. 

I watched him closely this time, not caring about his abs or clothes. Instead how his skin, even from far away, seemed to be ghastly pale like I could see his bones if I squinted. I trailed over the rest of him, the hand holding the book, conveniently hiding the title, was so fragile. 

Then the wind gusted again, leaving the curtain to block my view. But when he reappeared, something new happened. He was looking dead at me, for the first time ever. The boy's eyes were milky white, with the slightest bit of color and a heavily dilated pupil. He looked unnatural, and for a moment I thought I could look right through him. 

Though, he was staring right at me, and if I blinked I might have missed it. But, sure enough, I didn't. He winked, smirked, then was gone. My shock chilled over me, like an ice bucket was spilled down my spine. 

Like a breath of breeze he disappeared, leaving his book resting on the windowsill, opened to the beginning. Then as the wind gusted particularly hard, it snapped close, and I saw the title. 

All it read was, ‘I see you.’ 

March 12, 2022 02:32

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