The New House

I don't care what anyone says, I'm not forgetful. I can remember everything that I've ever read and learned, I can remember when my mom started potty training me at 2 years old, I can remember when I got stitches for falling out of my seat and bonking my head against the kitchen counter when I was 3. Everything is filed away perfectly in my memory, except for those fuzzy memories of when I was still an infant.

However, I'm getting off track. Everything was fine when I was little, but that ended when I was about 10. I was about to turn 11 in a few months, and we had just moved across the country because my dad got relocated for his job. The house we were in was nice and big, my sister and I wouldn't have to share a room anymore, it had a finished basement, an in-ground pool in the backyard with a wooden deck, there were two floors and enough space that my siblings and I all had our own bedrooms, we had a playroom, and my parents had a study. The place was in a good neighbourhood, and my grandma only lived a few minutes away. It should have been my dream home - but it wasn't.

The move was hard enough. My mom had to deal with a 10 year old, an 11 year old, and a 13 year old that suffered from ADHD in the car with her for a good two days. I'm the baby of the family, and I remember during the car ride up that my mom had to shift things around in the van so that my sister would stop pulling my hair and taking my toys. She's a year older than me, and she didn't like having to deal with the fact that she wasn't the baby of the family. My own personal tormentor.

We finally got to the house, moved in, had a few welcoming parties from neighbours and my dad's coworkers and had just settled in when things started to just vanish.

It was just small things at first - cheap things, like those toys you can buy at the dollar store, plastic hairbrushes that kids always use, even a few pieces of plastic jewelry that my sister and I owned. Thing was, all these items would go missing after I had used them. I remember one time in particular where I had borrowed my sister's plastic earrings for a performance in school, and after I had given them back, they went missing. My sister blamed me, of course, but even though my parents looked everywhere in my room and couldn't find it, they still blamed me and asked me to replace them. (I didn't, but only because my Grandma came to my defence in that I gave them back, they never found the earrings in my possession, and my sister had forgotten what she had done with them when I gave them back. After that she became my favourite family member.)

Things got worse as I got older. More expensive things would go missing, until one day my mom's diamond earrings disappeared. Everyone demanded to know what I had done with them, and it was only the fact that I had burst into hysterics and nearly passed out from lack of oxygen that convinced them that I honestly had nothing to do with it. Dad started to think something was wrong, so he had a security system installed, and we got a dog. Mom insisted that I was trying to cover up for taking those earrings to sell, but dad wouldn't listen to it. Mom had been more prone to listening to my sister over me throughout my childhood, so dad made up for the fact by listening to me more.

The German Shepherd my dad adopted was a beautiful girl by the name of Mocha, and everyone fell in love with her right away. She slept in mom and dad's room, and only made a fuss when I was doing something that apparently she felt I shouldn't be doing. Specifically, she felt that I should be changing in my closet. I didn't know why, but seeing as how the doors inside the house can be unlocked from outside, maybe she thought that I should be changing where I have more privacy. There were a few other quirks that she had that no one thought too heavily on, like the fact that she would never go into my brother's room, or that she always clung close to me, despite not sleeping in my room.

Eventually, the items that went missing got to the point where they were costing my family hundreds. For example, the space heater that my sister keeps in her room because it gets extremely cold in the winter. My mom threatened to make me pay for everything that disappeared, but seeing as how that space heater had nothing to do with me this time, I was let off the hook. My friends all knew what my home life was like, and they all just figured that this was something really elaborate done by my sister since things would only go missing at home.

I remember that there was a school trip that I was going on in the twelfth grade that forced me to be away for a week. It was one of those stupid "We're doing this to help everyone!" camps, the ones with no wifi, no cell reception, and you're forced to use bathrooms that either smell like piss or like someone just let their cat loose in there. It was about halfway through the trip when the teachers pulled me aside, citing family reasons to my curious friends. They didn't tell me much, just that my family discovered something horrifying, and that they wanted to contact me as soon as possible. I figured it was something like "Your uncle is going to jail for something or another" or something like that, so I kept semi-calm. After all, it wasn't like this affected me too much, right?

I was completely wrong.

When I got back home from the trip, my parents were both there, teary eyed and looking worried. When I got off the bus, my mom ran up to me and pulled me into a tight hug. I was startled, we had never gotten along well since things started to go missing. My dad grabbed my bags, and they took me to the car, promising they would explain everything later. Instead of going home, my parents took me to my grandma's house. I was confused, and asked about what was going on. They looked at each other, and after a brief silence, they began to explain.

The day after I left on the trip, Mocha was acting up. She was constantly barking at my brother's closet, growling at the corners of the room, and was constantly, constantly trying to drag my parents into my room. It wasn't until my brother humoured her that they found out what was bothering Mocha so much. When he discovered what she was really barking at, my brother got my sister, ran outside, and got the neighbour to call the police.

He had found a camera in my room, hidden in the vents.

I remember that I felt like I was about to faint when I heard that, and my dad sat me down. They weren't finished.

The police searched the house, from the basement to the second floor. That was when my mom mentioned that the entrance to the attic was in my brother's room - specifically, in his closet. She mentioned Mocha's behavior in my brother's room, and the police vowed that they would take a look.

What they found was a man in his mid-thirties curled up in the corner, holding a broken pipe as a weapon in front of him. There were monitors for all the cameras in the house, even some attached to the security cameras. Everything that had gone missing over the years was there, too. Normally, this wouldn't be enough to jail him for anything other than trespassing, but there was something else that they found. Something that still makes my skin crawl to this day.

Child pornography. Specifically, child pornography and evidence of masturbation to me.

He had been watching me change. He had been watching me sleep. He had been watching my every action in that house since I was fucking 10 years old. For 7 fucking years I had been stalked by this creep, this bastard that watched me all through my adolescence. According to my parents, he hadn't gone willingly, they had to tase him and then carry him out to the police car, but the entire time he had been screaming for me. Screaming my name, that he'd wait for me for however long it took.

It's been a few years since that man - I discovered his name was Brad when I watched his trial via Skype - was sentenced to jail. I moved out of that house and in with my grandma, who lived a few minutes away from that other house. Dad gave me Mocha, saying that she was good for my protection. Once I graduated a few weeks later, I requested to be placed in Witness Protection, and it was granted.

I was moved to the Yukon in Canada, since it would be harder to find me if I had a new citizenship. My name was changed. I went to a university there. I tried to live a normal life.

Thing is, my brother called me from a payphone in New York a few days ago. We weren't exactly in touch, but he was given permission from the program to call me to tell me one thing. One goddamn thing that I wish I had never heard.

Brad escaped from prison last month.

And just this morning, Mocha began acting up - by growling at the condo's supply closet.

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