The Knocking Next Door

“You just don’t understand me!” Tyra shouted. She stormed up the stairs and threw her door closed with a bang. She fell onto her bed and grabbed her pillow, thumping it against the wall three times to let out her frustration.

A moment later, there was a knocking on the wall.

Tyra looked at it, still full of teenage rage. So what if the law said she couldn’t drive for another year, she should be allowed to do so now. Stupid parents. Stupid imagination, making the wall knock.

There was a knocking again, and the rage was replaced by concern. Who would be on the other side of the wall? It’s just the weird neighbours that she never saw.

Still unsure, she reached out and knocked twice. The knock was returned. She knocked four times, and they other side knocked four times. She tried different patterns, and every time, they were returned.

Tyra soon grew bored, and stopped. Then the other side started knocking out complicated patterns. She didn’t know why there were so many quick knocks, and knocks with pauses, and longer pauses. It was a weird rhythm, not very musical. She rolled her eyes.

Then there was a knocking she understand. Three short, three long, three short. Morse code! If only she knew more, she thought. She got her phone and looked up a table of letters. Then, very hesitantly, she knocked back: s-l-o-w-l-y.

Over the next few weeks, she got faster and faster. Soon, she and the other side were knocking long conversations. Her knuckles started to get callused from all the work. She and her friend – who identified himself as Jamie, though she didn’t think that was either of the neighbours’ names – learned more and more about each other. He went to some private school a few blocks down from her public school. She asked why she never saw him, and he said they didn’t leave until 10am, and he spent most of his time inside, studying.

Every night when she got home, she knocked back and forth with Jamie. They laughed about how alike their classmates were in their foolishness, and how stupid their parents were.

Finally, in May, Tyra steeled herself and knocked out a question – Want to come to our end of year formal with me?

She waited, and waited, and waited, until finally Jamie replied – Sure, sounds fun.

She tapped the date out for him, and went dress shopping the next day. She found the perfect dress, stylish but classy, and a beautiful shade of blue.

On the day of, she stood in her living room, her hair coiffed, her make-up painted with the care of Vermeer, her dress perfectly fitted. Finally there was a knocking, and she went to meet the boy she had tapped with for so long.

He looked awkward in his suit. Not because of the suit itself – it was well-tailored, of course – but because he was an awkwardly shaped, awkwardly-moving teenage boy. His skin was pale, his glasses thick, and he wasn’t at all what she expected, but he was cute, and would impress her friends, and that’s all Tyra wanted.

“Hey,” he said. “Umm, I’m Jamie.”

“Hi Jamie. I’m Tyra. Nice to meet you in person.”

“You too. You ready?”

“Yup.” She turned and yelled through the house, “Bye Mom and Dad!” She looked back at him. “Let’s go.”

Jamie held his arm out for her, and they walked to the street and his car.

He opened the door for her, before getting in the driver’s side. They sat awkwardly for a moment, then he reached his hand up to the dashboard and knocked out – Onward?

Tyra smiled, reached forward, and tapped in reply – Onward!

He started the car, and they drove off to the dance.

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