He watched us.
Just stared at us, and it made me fidget uncomfortably in place.
His icy blue eyes seemed to smolder toward ours.
I wasn’t sure how to proceed with the situation, honestly.
I felt a nudge on my side from my Mom’s elbow. "Don’t be rude," she said. "You don’t have to keep staring at him."
Me, staring at him? I countered inwardly. I wasn’t the one acting creepy. He was gazing at two women with an intrusiveness that was unsettling.
"I’m sorry," my mother apologized to the man. "She’s not usually like this."
And that was the truth.
I was typically polite to people I was meeting for the first time. I did tend to come off as aloof occasionally, but that had more to do with my anxiety than other people.
But with this man...what I wanted to do more than anything was forget about him, head back home, and fall asleep.
"No worries," the man said, smiling.
I cringed at both the smile and the fact that the man said "No worries". My mom hated when people used that expression, something to do with her vocabulary and the fact that she had been a teen in the 70’s. She thought the words "No problem" or "That’s okay" would’ve been more appropriate.
I glanced at my mother and sure enough, she frowned as soon as the words had left the man’s mouth.
Does this mean we can leave? Please tell me we can leave.
Unfortunately for me, my Mom was a woman of candor. If she committed to a job, she made sure she didn’t let other people down.
I sighed as I submitted to defeat.
I guess I have no choice now.
My mother and I had been hired to deliver newspapers from the hours of one a.m to six a.m for the local printing press.
The creepy man with the ice blue eyes—our new employer Jake—was a fifty-something with graying hair that showed a bald spot in the middle of his tanned head. He was heavy set and was wearing dirty overalls.
My mother had applied for the job over the summer to make some extra cash. She was a celebrated teacher with a good reputation and education. Even so, during summer breaks, she only taught for a certain amount of time. That time, however, wasn’t sufficient in paying for all of the household expenses.
Jake had had to look over my mother’s drivers license, her registration, and her auto insurance before hiring her. He also had needed to appraise the Honda to see whether it was in good working condition. Jake legally had to be sure that we and our vehicle met all of the rules and regulations, which included getting me a work permit since I wasn’t quite eighteen yet.
It was a cool June morning, full of the crisp air and chirping crickets outside. The area we were standing near covered about 20,000 square feet with two separate, white buildings in front. There were numerous parking spaces and the vehicles were occupied with other couriers. We were surrounded by desert on all sides.
Our assigned newspapers had to be folded into plastic bags. Deadlines were strict for the delivery process, with the papers needing to be delivered no later than the required time on weekdays. Failure in delivering the papers on time would be a penalty against us.
A penalty meant lesser money.
We had to gather the papers one by one, making several trips to the car to retrieve them all.
"Good luck on your first day," Jake called out to us after we had secured our last bag. My Mom waved at him from inside of the Honda and then drove us away from the parking lot.
My mother and I were assigned to one of the longer routes so that we could make the most amount of money. I was nervous that we wouldn’t have enough time before it reached six. I wasn’t sure why. Maybe I was more anxious than I thought?
Cruising through the empty streets with only an occasional light overhead somehow gave me a sudden feeling of giddiness. I didn’t like having to wake up in the middle of the night to deliver papers, but something about the experience of being around when most people weren’t up made me feel free.
It was interesting to see buildings, sidewalks, and empty streets in the less familiar darkness than when we usually saw them in the daytime.
“It feels like a ghost town, doesn’t it?” My mom asked me as she drove.
“Yeah,” I agreed, nodding my head to myself. “It’s kinda cool but also kinda eerie.” My mother made a sound of acknowledgment.
The neighborhood we arrived in had nicely built two-story houses that reminded me of Colonial homes on the East Coast of the States. There were cherry blossom trees scattered around the houses, and the color of the leaves were a rich green, hinting at the season that would eventually transform into autumn.
The first house we were assigned to was an attractive neo eclectic style that was painted a warm, cream color. Its front lawn clear cut.
“This is a nice neighborhood,” I complimented.
My mother agreed before handing me a single newspaper. “Toss it on the driveway,” she said, using the automatic buttons on her side of the vehicle to roll the window down.
I attempted to throw the paper out the window a few times, but the angle felt awkward for me, my arm protesting the movement.
“Can you do it, the Mom?” I asked instead.
I liked calling her "The Mom". It was something special between the two of us. I had come up with the nickname when I had been a small child. I had thought to myself that "the" had a more powerful meaning to it.
“Lizzy, you need to build more strength. You should be able to throw one newspaper.”
Mom leaned over me to toss the newspaper herself, her muscled arms looking toned as she did. The newspaper landed perfectly on the driveway.
The next client actually lived next door, having the same style house. All that was different was the exterior of the home which was a Maya blue color. My mother didn’t ask me to throw the newspaper again. She just did it herself as I read the list of houses we were given.
A half an hour later, we turned on a cul-de-sac that had fewer lights than the other streets. I was beginning to get car sick from reading the list, my stomach churning as we continued to ride along.
"Can we pull over for a sec?" I asked.
"Feeling sick?" guessed Mom.
I didn’t answer her for I heard a noise from behind me and it distracted me. I didn’t have to look to know that the back seat window had rolled down by itself.
"The window rolled down," I said rather flatly.
My mom drifted to the right of the curb and put the Honda in park. She then spun around to confirm what I had told her.
"How’d you do that?" She asked.
"Do what?" I retorted, swallowing a bit to ease my nausea.
"You made the window roll down."
I leaned forward in the passenger seat, still feeling sick. "What?"
"You made the window roll down with your mind."
I would’ve chuckled if I felt well enough. "No, I didn’t, the Mom."
"Yeah, you did," she said with conviction.
The seconds seemingly flew as the both of us just sat in silence, unaware of what the other was thinking. I was torn between being annoyed and being amused. Why my mother thought I could move things with my mind was beyond me.
If I had been able to move objects with my mind, we certainly wouldn’t be hired as paper deliverers.
We’ve been in the dark too long, I thought.
Disregarding my Mom’s nonsense, I then told her that I was feeling a little better, even though I really wasn’t. I just didn’t want to miss the deadline. My mother changed lanes to drive us through another neighborhood. We still had a few hours to spare.
What I didn’t realize then was that it wouldn’t be the first time my Mom would accuse me of telekinesis. Nor would it be the first time if I questioned my own abilities.