When I came home from school yesterday, I heard someone in the kitchen. I froze immediately. Both my mom and dad work till the late evening and never come home early.
“Mom?” My voice cracked.
“Dad?” No answer.
I took a couple steps forward, letting my backpack slide off.
Finally, a voice. “Don’t come in here, dork.”
The voice sounded like my neighbor Kate. She’s a couple grades ahead of me. We used to play together when we were younger, but for the last few years she’s acted like I don’t exist.
“Kate? Is that you?” I still wasn’t one hundred percent sure.
“Shut up, Tyler! I’m leaving now.”
Knowing that it was just Kate (and not a violent burglar), I rushed into the kitchen. Kate was crouching behind the fridge door.
I peeked behind the door.
“What are you doing, Kate?”
I could see what she was doing: attempting to wipe up spilled spaghetti sauce from the floor with about twenty-seven paper towels.
“How did you get in here?”
Kate looked up at me. I could see tears forming in her eyes.
“Promise me Tyler, you won’t tell your parents about this.”
“You had me freaking out.”
“I’m sorry…I don’t know how to explain this.”
Kate dropped her gaze and slumped further to the ground. Her white sneakers were sprinkled with red sauce.
“I won’t tell anybody, Kate.” I crouched down and started to clean up the spill.
Kate sighed. “This is going to sound stupid, but it’s the truth.”
I nodded at her while throwing paper towel number twenty-one in the trash. It was strange to see Kate this vulnerable. I was used to her throwing insults my way or pretending that we’d never been friends.
“I haven’t eaten in like two and a half days,” she said.
“On purpose?” I asked.
“No.” She shook her head so her hair covered her face.
“Well, I usually throw a pizza on when I get home. You want Four Cheese or Supreme?
Kate let out a short laugh.
“You promise on your life you won’t breathe a word of this to your parents?”
“I don’t think they care about your favorite type of pizza.”
“Not a word.”
We cleaned up the last of the spill together while our cheese pizza baked.
After eating, we dug out my old Nintendo 64 so we could play dirt bike racing games like we used to when we were friends.
“Let me know if you ever want to play video games again,” I said when Kate was leaving.
“I don’t know…maybe.”
“Maybe sounds good to me.”
Today, Kate texted me: Supercross 2000 tomorrow?
I texted back: I can’t wait for another chance to finally beat you