It was a gorgeous day; perfect for a new start.
A beautiful young couple unloaded their belongings into the house that will be their new home. A medium-sized van, parked on the street, contained every physical object of the life they have created together, including their beautiful three-year-old daughter, Beth.
One house over, Ted, stared out of his window at his lovely new neighbors. He watched as the young, average looking man unloaded the back of a van while a pretty woman in her twenties helped their daughter out of the vehicle and held her hand as they made their way into the house.
The sun beat down and warmed up Ted’s house until he could not take it anymore. He walked into every room and opened all the windows.
“John, sweetie, can you unload Beth’s stuff first so we can get her settled for the day?” Jessica said to her husband.
The open windows allowed Ted to perfectly hear their conversation.
“Sure thing, Jess.” John kissed his wife on the cheek as they crossed paths.
Ted cringed and Jessica disappeared into the house with Beth.
A few minutes later, she emerged childless. John walked by her holding two boxes marked “Beth” in black sharpie, and disappeared into the house.
Ted moved his eyes from the front yard to the second story of the house, searching for the little girl. After averting his eyes to each window, he finally spotted her. Beth sat in what he assumed was her new room, and she stared out the window at her new surroundings.
Moving his eyes once again, Ted saw John and Jessica in the front yard again, continuing to unload the van.
Jess handed John a big box marked “Kitchen.”
“I think this house is perfect,” Jess began.
“I agree,” John set the box on their new grassy lawn and embraced his wife. “We can forget everything from the past and move on,” he kissed her on the side of her head.
Jess smiled, nodded and grabbed another box from the van as they went into their house together.
Ted ripped himself away from the window and walked to his dresser. A family portrait, crumpled and old, sat on the surface. He picked it up and stared at the younger version of himself standing next to a beautiful brunette woman holding a young boy. He looked happy.
Those days are long gone, Ted thought.
He set down the old photograph and picked up a newspaper clipping that lay next to the picture, two obituaries. A picture of the same brunette woman and young boy accented the articles. He looked in the mirror above the dresser at the unhappy, old man who stared back at him. Rage began to stir in the pit of Ted’s stomach and he punched the mirror with his right fist, making the papers drop to the floor.
Ted shook his hand furiously and blood and glass fell to the floor.
My family is going to be whole again soon, Ted thought.
Ted took a deep breath and quickly moved back to the window to see the progress of the family anxious for a “new start.”
They are going to get a new start, all right, Ted thought.
Ted watched as the young couple emptied the last box out of the van and walked into their house holding hands. He moved his eyes back to the second story and watched as John and Jess’s beautiful child opened her boxes and set every stuffed animal on her new bed.
Ted left the window once again and walked to his kitchen, opened the fridge, and took out a batch of brownies he made the night before. With brownies in hand, he left his house and nonchalantly walked next door.
The door to the young couple’s house remained open. As Ted was about to knock on the open door, he glanced into the house and saw the young couple kissing in their kitchen.
Jessica quickly noticed the presence of a stranger and broke free from her husband. “Hello, may we help you?” She said out of forced politeness.
Ted smiled. “I live next door and wanted to introduce myself,” he held up the brownies, “and bring a house warming gift.”
John eyed him suspiciously as he walked over and took the brownies from his hands. “Thanks,” another forced smile.
“So where you guys from?” Ted said as John set the brownies on the counter.
“We just moved to town from upstate.” Jess gave a weary smile to her husband, “We wanted to get away from our old life. This town seems like a great place to start over and build a new life.”
“Yeah this is a great town for a fresh start,” Ted said with emphasis.
“Yeah, we thought so too.” John agreed.
I’m ready for a new start too, Ted thought.
“Thanks for stopping by,” Jessica said with a smile.
Ted watched her lips move.
“Yeah, of course. I’m right next door if you need anything.” Ted said, still staring at Jessica’s lips.
“Sure,” John said, the politeness completely gone. “See you later.”
“What happened to your hand?” Jess quickly said with concern as she noticed the dried blood.
Ted quickly looked at his hand. “Nothing,” he said abruptly.
Ted left the house feeling satisfied.
Ted left the house, but remained on the property. He exited through the front door and walked around to the side of the house. He could still hear the couple perfectly.
“That guy was creepy,” John said to his wife.
“He was not, sweetie,” Jessica said. “He was just being friendly.”
John rolled his eyes. “Whatever, love.”
Jessica smiles. “I’m going to go help Beth unpack,” she kissed John on the lips. “I love you.”
“Love you too, Jess.” John said as she walked up the stairs.
Ted watched from the window as Jess made her way up the stairs. As soon as she disappeared, he made his way back to the front door, which was still open. John was in the kitchen, placing silverware in drawers.
Ted walked back into the house.
He came at John from behind, his hands wrapped around John’s throat. He tried to fight it, but Ted caught him too off guard.
“This family needs a new start…and you’re not in it”