Being Neighbors by Marie Hoy-Kenny

Mila knows I imitate her but doesn’t mind. She leads me by the hand to her bedroom. We sit on her fleecy bedspread, and she points at our reflection in the mirror, tells me we have the same brown hair and moon-wide blue eyes.

“We’re alike, see,” she says, and I smile even though I know we’re not.

I note the artful way she’s hung Salvidor Dali prints between Nirvana posters, the fresh scent of her green apple shampoo, the way she crosses one lean leg over the other and tilts her head to the right when she talks, the way her voice is as gentle as a windchime.

She reads to me from Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing, plays me Radiohead and Tragically Hip songs on her guitar, and I study her, trying to remember the exact way to position my fingers.

Mila lends me one of her white tank tops and uses her mom’s hairdressing scissors to cut my jeans, so I have shorts like the kind she wears. She shows me how to flick my eyeliner up at the corners and the right shade of lip gloss to apply to appear just a little edgier than innocent.

She tells me being eighteen is like being a tulip at the exact second it opens and now it’s happened, I need to live unflinchingly.

When we spot the headlights gleaming through the curtains, Mila tells me to wait in the closet. She ties her pink bandana over her boyfriend’s eyes when he steps into the room then tiptoes to my hiding place, grabs my hand, leads me to him, placing his large hands in the back pockets of my new shorts. His lips are warm against my face.

“Mila,” he murmurs, and I close my eyes, picturing the wind tinkling the chime until it becomes my voice too and I answer, “Yes.”

Marie Hoy-Kenny is a writer and theatre enthusiast from Ontario, Canada, where she lives with her guitar-playing husband, two creative and spirited young children, and mischievous poodle. Marie has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Master of Science in Education. She writes young adult and middle grade novels and has had several stories and poems published in literary magazines. Her middle grade ghost novel, which is currently on submission, is inspired in part by the (supposedly) haunted schools she has worked at.  She is presently working on a young adult thriller. Marie is represented by Emmy Nordstrom Higdon from Westwood Creative Artists.