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The Boy Next Door - Pt. I: Family Business

Updated: Jan 8, 2023

A psychological thriller exposing family secrets from decades ago. What if your entire life was a lie? That might be the case for Nina.

Based on true events

October 2021 – Logan, Illinois

Nina bursts through the front door with her mouthful of the largest vomit her insides could create, dripping through the webs of her fingers. She falls lifelessly to her knees and dresses the green lawn in a new orange shade. Her phone keeps ringing, but she ignores the call.

“What the hell is happening to me right now?!” she yelled before using her trembling arms to stand up for air. Her phone rings again– it’s Dr. Edwards.

“Where have you been?! I’ve been calling you for an hour!” Dr. Edwards angrily-whispered through the phone.

“You really don’t want to know,” Nina replied in a groggy tone.

Dr. Edwards continued.

“I came to check on your parents like you asked and… Well, I’m not sure how to tell you this, but we have a problem.”

6 Months Ago

April 2021 – San Antonio, Texas

Nina always felt out of place.

“You’re a haystack in a needle,” was the painful point her dad would consistently poke her with. He’s a tall, lanky man who loves two things dearly– basketball and using phrases like, 'a needle in a haystack,' in the wrong context, but of course Nina couldn’t tell him that. When she did, he would run his fingers through his thick afro, rub his scruffy beard, then point to all the trophies on the wall and spew his favorite rebuttal, 'all-time leader in steals Nina, never forget that.' It never made sense, but neither did he so she let him be.

Both parents were former basketball players and proudly hung their high school trophies around their lowly, four bedroom house. Her mom didn’t talk much, but when she did it was either, “no child,” or Nina’s personal favorite, “child, please.” There was something about her mom’s 'southern twang’ that made 'child please,' sound good even when Nina didn’t get what she asked for. Her mom was tall, thin and got a silk press every first of the month. It was hard to believe she played basketball until the Spurs games came on television and she turned into Coach Popovich. She 'child please’d' the players to death too.

Like most kids, Nina thought her parents were a little strange, but she loved them despite their major differences. Nina was short, slender and never made a sports team. Her parents wore the Spurs’ silver and black proudly, but painted the house gray because silver was too vibrant. Nina loved vibrant colors, especially gold. Her parents say it’s from their time in California where the Lakers influenced her. The family moved a lot, but always to warm states like California, Texas, and Georgia because they hated snow, Nina however loved snow– despite never living in a state that snowed.

There wasn’t a single book in the house outside of the one’s Nina brought home from school. Nina doesn’t recall her parents ever reading, not even a newspaper or magazine, but, Nina is fascinated by books and recalls hearing bedtime stories every night when she was younger. Something she had a problem reading was her mother’s lips when she gave her directions because of her teeth. There lies the biggest gap between them. Her parents had pearly, white teeth while Nina had a gap big enough to stick her tongue through and what many called a crooked smile. She begged them for braces for four years, but every year she got the same response;

“Child please… we ain’t got no money for no braces,” her mother replied.

To her surprise, she was blind folded and led into the dentist office on her 13th birthday. Her gap and largest insecurity was finally closed. She took a final photo before the braces were applied and kept it in her wallet as a reminder of her parents' love. She looked at it whenever she was upset with them or felt unloved, indifferent or like, 'a haystack in a needle.' It was a symbol of their love and sacrifice because she knew they didn’t have the money, but they made a way. Despite 18 years of sacrifices from her parents, Nina decided it was time to leave.

1 Month Later

May 2021 – San Antonio, Texas

High School graduation was approaching and tension in their house was at an all-time high. Her parents were adamant on her staying home and helping with the family business– a business they couldn’t reveal to her until she graduated. Nina always thought it was strange.

“How can you expect me to commit to something I know nothing about? What if I commit and I hate it? Then what?” she would ask.

She asked her parents every week as graduation crept closer, but they only replied with a long scold. It didn’t matter because Nina already had a plan. She was going to attend college far away. Nina spent the last six months applying to colleges with her high school counselor, Dr. Edwards and was anxious to move to a cold state and be closer to snow. She applied to schools in Illinois, Minnesota, and New York. Her wish came true.

Nina didn't get accepted into any Universities, but she did get into Loganville Community College in Illinois.

“Why Loganville?” Dr. Edwards asked.

“I don’t know. My intuition always liked that name,” she responded. Nina liked the name so much that she would get in trouble for saying it as a child.

“Logan! Logan, Logan,” she would yell around the house. She fought for Logan at home and was steadfast on doing so in the classroom as well. When it was time to choose a name in her 7th grade French class, she refused to settle for another. Although Logan was not on the list, she begged her teacher to keep the name until he finally agreed. Nina performed well in the classroom so she could always get her way. Unfortunately, there were no performances her parents would entertain.

“I want to work in the family business after graduation,” she regrettably told her parents. It was a lie. It was a test to get more information on the business, but her verbal commitment meant nothing to them and they revealed nothing about the business to her. She got a snarky rebuttal from her father instead;

“I made a verbal commitment to Texas Southern, ask me how many games I played with them.” She thought the verbal commitment would stop them from opening her mail and sneaking in her room looking for information, but it only added fuel to the fire.

Nina was two steps ahead and had all of her college mail addressed to Dr. Edwards home. Her parents still didn’t trust her, but distrust was mutual and grew each day as graduation drew near. She wasn’t sure what they had planned, but did not want to stick around long enough to find out. To avoid the uncertainty of what may happen on the eventful day, she decided to skip graduation and take an earlier flight.

3 Months Later

August 2021 – San Antonio, Texas

Nina attended the summer program for incoming freshmen and it paid off.

“It was the best decision I ever made. I felt ahead of all the other incoming freshmen academically and socially. Especially since it allowed me to meet Brian, the guy next door.”

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