When a suspicious adolescent discovers his dad sneaking into his neighbor’s house every evening, he breaks into her house. His perception of his father is completely altered by what he discovers inside, shocking him to his very essence.
Ryan, 15, and his parents had always yearned for a taste of a wonderful existence full of excitement, travel, and joy. Although it was scarcely enough to meet their daily needs, their middle-class income never matched their aspirations.
Ryan’s mother, Reese, and his father, Derek, worked at home. Derek taught math in a nearby school. Since Derek worked diligently and even paid a lot of overtime, every penny came from him. But nothing appeared sufficient.
But Ryan and his mother’s souls yearned for the day they would travel to the enchanted Disneyland and the seductive Parisian streets. Unfortunately, the Barry family’s dream was out of their grasp.
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A new distraction soon appeared in the shape of Ryan’s parents’ new neighbor, a stunning young woman who moved to the end of the block while Ryan’s parents were preoccupied with their unending financial concerns. This family had no idea how this new house in their community would completely upend their modest way of life.
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Reese and her neighbor were passing the new neighbor, a pretty brunette with freckles and square-framed spectacles, as they moved through the aisles of the grocery store one day.
“Have you heard about that new lady on the block?” Reese’s neighbor whispered. “I heard her name is Mia. she never talks to anyone and is always locked inside her house. Don’t you think it’s strange? Nobody around here knows what’s going on in her house.”
“Dad! STOP right there! How could you do this to mom??”
“Yeah, I have seen her only at the store. She seems young and good-looking. No wonder the men on our block keep hitting on her constantly! But the fact that she’s mostly holed up in her house…that’s odd!” Reese said as she couldn’t help but feel odd about this enigmatic arrival and what the reclusive woman’s life was like in private.
Mia had been living in the area for a few weeks. She was constantly the subject of gossip behind her back, but she didn’t care. Despite her tendency to seclusion, the local men would try to attract her notice. All married and single males were enamored with Mia because of her breathtaking beauty.
But for some reason, the lady avoided engaging in conversation with anyone and avoided conversation altogether.
To everyone’s surprise, however, only Derek could speak with Mia when he saw her struggling to transport heavy grocery bags out of the store. To Reese’s surprise and suspicion that he had developed a sudden interest in the mysterious, attractive lady, he assisted her in carrying the bags home.
Reese’s mind gradually became haunted and consumed by envy, and her son Ryan became aware of the tense environment at home.
After a few weeks, the Barry family’s stress increased. When Derek began arriving home later than usual, worn out, and drained, Reese’s frustration reached a boiling point, and she lost it completely.
Why has it become my new practice to arrive home so late? With a searing resentment in her voice, Reese yelled at Derek.
She had a visibly angry expression, and Derek could see that he had a lot of explanation to do.
“Darling, I told you…I have to work overtime at school,” said Derek.
“Overtime? I don’t think it’s helping us in any way because you don’t seem to bring in more money,” Reese lashed out.
“Honey, not now, alright? I’m already tired. And I promise everything will be fine soon. Trust me.”
Derek kept saying things would get better shortly, but they never did.
And with each passing day, his heated fights with Reese got worse.
Ryan was concerned about his parents’ ongoing arguments in the house. He had trouble identifying how deeply ingrained his mother’s jealousy had become in her psyche.
He tried to reassure her that everything would be alright and even persuaded her that his dad was working diligently for them. But nothing altered, and Reese continued to believe Derek was guilty.
Ryan began to feel the strain of his parents’ arguments, particularly after he once overheard another heated argument.
His heart sank when the child overheard his mother accusing his father of adultery.
“I know something is going on between you and that Mia,” Reese yelled, her voice trembling with emotions.
“Is she more beautiful than me? Did she agree to sleep with you? Is she better than me in bed? How could you do this to me?”
Ryan’s hearing surprised him. His dad had only once assisted Mia, so his mom’s charges were absurdly harsh and unjustified. Ryan was disturbed by his mother’s unprovoked attack on his father and the vicious measures she took in response to a seemingly innocuous interaction between him and Mia.
“Mom needs to stop feeling jealous about that lady,” thought Ryan.
“Dad would never cheat on her. I know dad very well. He would never betray mom…Not in a million years.”
But the next evening, just outside his bedroom window, Ryan witnessed something else that he could never have envisioned happening in front of his horrified eyes. It verified his mother’s worst fears, much to his horror.
“Dad? What’s he doing in Mia’s house?” As he closed the door behind him, Derek crept into the home of the young neighbor, shocking Ryan.
Ryan was completely taken aback and struggled to escape the suspicion that his father was keeping something from the family.
The young boy asked his father in shock, “Who is she?” while pointing inside the bedroom.
“Dad said he has overtime in school. What’s he doing in Mia’s house?” Staring out of his bedroom window at Mia’s barely discernible home, Ryan murmured. Derek was meant to be at work right now, so he knew this was unusual.
Ryan’s mind raced with a series of unsettling ideas about what his dad might be up to at Mia’s home when the doors were closed.
Later that evening, exhausted as normal, Derek arrived home and informed Reese that he had overtime.
“I know that it’s a lie, dad. What were you doing in that woman’s house?” Ryan had an idea as he snuck away from his father’s view. Ryan decided to find out the truth before telling his mother because he knew it would cause a scene at home if he claimed to have seen his dad breaking into Mia’s home.
He waited at his bedroom window the following evening, and amazingly, Ryan witnessed his father breaking into Mia’s home at about the same moment.
“Is dad out of his mind? Does he even know what will happen if mom finds out?”
Ryan noticed something was seriously awry when he saw his dad sneaking into Mia’s home all that week. He also didn’t want to think that his dad was having an extramarital affair because he knew he couldn’t keep it a secret indefinitely. However, just the idea of Derek secretly going to see Mia in the night convinced him otherwise.
One evening, Ryan trailed his father in the shadows to learn what was happening at Mia’s home.
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“There he is…I knew it…she was waiting for him, and she knew he’ll be back from work now,” Ryan shouted as he ducked behind a wall directly below Mia’s living room. He observed the woman leading his father into the bedroom before she closed the door behind them.
“I’m done now! I must halt them. I don’t understand why you would do this, Dad, “Ryan yelled as he barged into Mia’s home via the carport and pursued his father, obstructing his path.
“Dad! STOP right there! How could you do this to mom??”
Derek whirled around, his visage going white as a sheet from shock.
“Ryan? What are you doing here? How did you get in?” Derek became alarmed.
However, Ryan could not look away from the scene in front of his startled eyes. His pulse raced as he attempted to make sense of what he was seeing.
The young boy asked his father in shock, “Who is she?” while pointing inside the bedroom. Ryan’s eyes welled up with emotions because he never had in a million dreams imagined seeing something like that.
Derek introduced the girl in the bedroom as Sarah, Mia’s disabled daughter, after realizing he needed to clarify a lot to Ryan.
Then Derek disclosed that he had been paying Sarah for daily private lessons to raise extra cash for a surprise trip to Paris for Reese and his son.
“Sweetie, Sarah is my new student. She had a terrible accident some months ago and is unable to walk. She attends online classes but has difficulty with math. So I was tutoring her every evening for extra money,” explained Derek.
“Ryan,” he added softly as he squeezed the boy’s shoulder reassuringly. “I know what you might be thinking. I should’ve told you and mom earlier. It was confusing and upsetting, but you should know why I didn’t tell you.”
In disbelief, Ryan was wrong to think his father was to blame. He hugged Derek tightly and regretted drawing unfounded conclusions about him as tears streamed down his cheeks.
“I’m sorry, dad!” Ryan cried. “I shouldn’t have doubted you. And I won’t tell mom about what I saw, okay? Let’s not spoil the surprise.”
Then, with little idea of what was in store for them, Ryan and his father devised another scheme to surprise Reese on her birthday two months later.
“I’m tired of your lies. Derek, you told me you had extra classes, but I just found out from a friend that you’d left school early,” Reese blew up on Derek when he lied about overtime again.
“Mom, you’re overthinking. I’m sure your friend must’ve confused someone else with dad. And why would he lie to us? I trust dad, okay? And I want you to trust him, too…for my sake. Believe me, mom, or you’ll regret it later!”
Reese reluctantly concurred, but she lost faith in Derek as the days passed. Ryan teamed up with his father in the interim and assisted him in instructing Sarah. In addition to playing board games with her, he would remain next to her and read books.
As the days went by, Ryan and Sarah grew close, and Ryan became aware of how lonely the young woman had been since her injury.
However, things were getting better. Sarah was improving and steadily regaining her strength to walk with Derek and Ryan’s assistance.
Being a part of the girl’s recovery made Derek feel happy, and since Reese’s birthday was coming up, he realized it was time to tell her about the surprise.
Derek placed three tickets on the table as the family sat down for dinner one evening, revealing they would all be traveling to Paris in a week. Tears started to flood into Reese’s eyes, and she gasped.
“Honey, are you serious? Are we going to Paris? But you told me we can’t afford it….”
“Mom, I told you dad’s a gem! He worked hard for that money, and you’ll be surprised if I told you that he helped Mia’s daughter with math tuition every evening after work to take us on our dream trip to Paris!”
When Ryan and Derek told Reese the reality, her eyes lit up with tears.
I’m so sorry, honey, and I love you so much. How could you conceal this from me? Reese cried. She apologized to Derek after realizing she had been wrong to be distrustful and envious. She also visited Mia later that evening and expressed her regrets to her.
Everything for Mia and the Barry family changed at that precise instant. They bonded quickly and enjoyed each other’s company as they spent time together. Sarah, a daughter of Mia, was the most joyful of all.
She enjoyed having so many guests. It was a significant shift in her life, particularly after witnessing her mother laugh and move on. It came out that Sarah’s father had died in the same car accident that had left her disabled. After losing her beloved, Mia was devastated, so she sold her mansion and relocated to a quiet area to deal with her sorrow. She never interacted with people because of this.
Ryan couldn’t help but appreciate everything that had occurred as the sun set behind the orange-tinged clouds. He had acquired a wealth of knowledge about his family, himself, and, most importantly, the efficacy of kindness and confidence.
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