Someone We Know Page 3

‘You can, and you will,’ she says. ‘Whether you want to or not.’

He starts to sweat. ‘Mom, I can’t. Please don’t make me.’

She looks at him shrewdly. ‘What else aren’t you telling me?’ she asks.

But at that moment, he hears the front door opening and his dad whistling as he drops his keys on the table in the hall. Raleigh’s heart starts to pound, and he feels slightly sick. His mother he can handle, but his dad – he can’t bear to think of how his dad’s going to react. He didn’t anticipate this; he never thought he’d get caught. Fucking Mark.

‘Get up, now,’ his mother commands, ripping the rest of the covers off him. ‘We’re going to talk to your father.’

As he makes his way down the stairs in his pyjamas, he’s sweating. When they enter the kitchen, his dad looks up in surprise. He can obviously tell from their expressions that something’s up.

The whistling stops abruptly. ‘What’s going on?’ his dad asks.

‘Maybe we’d better all sit down,’ his mother says, pulling out a chair at the kitchen table. ‘Raleigh has something to tell you, and you’re not going to like it.’

They all sit. The sound of the chairs scraping against the floor rips at Raleigh’s raw nerves like nails on a chalkboard.

He has to confess. He knows that. But he doesn’t have to tell them everything. He’s more awake now, better able to think. ‘Dad, I’m really sorry, and I know it was wrong,’ he begins. His voice is trembling, and he thinks it’s a good start. But his dad’s brow has darkened already, and Raleigh’s afraid. He hesitates.

‘What the hell have you done, Raleigh?’ his father asks.

He stares back at his dad, but the words don’t come. For a moment, he feels completely paralysed.

‘He broke into somebody’s house,’ his mother says finally.


There’s no mistaking the shock and fury in his father’s voice. Raleigh quickly averts his eyes and looks at the floor. He says, ‘I didn’t break in. I snuck in.’

‘Why the hell did you do that?’ his father demands.

Raleigh shrugs his shoulders, but doesn’t answer. He’s still staring at the floor.


His mother prods him with a hand on his shoulder. ‘Raleigh?’

He finally raises his head and looks at his dad. ‘Last night.’

His father looks back at him, his mouth hanging open. ‘You mean, while we were here having friends over for dinner, and you were supposed to be at a movie, you were actually out sneaking into someone else’s house?’ His voice has grown in volume until, by the end of the sentence, his father is shouting. For a moment, there’s silence. The air vibrates with tension. ‘Were you alone, or were you with someone else?’

‘Alone,’ he mumbles.

‘So we can’t even console ourselves with the idea that someone else led you into this completely unacceptable, criminal, behaviour?’

Raleigh wants to put his hands over his ears to block out his dad’s shouting, but he knows this will only incense his dad further. He knows it looks worse that he acted alone.

‘Whose house was it?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘So what happened?’ His dad glances at his mom, and then back at him. ‘Did you get caught?’

Raleigh shakes his head, and his mom says, ‘No. I saw a text on his cell phone. Raleigh, show your dad the texts.’

Raleigh unlocks and hands over the phone, and his dad looks at the screen in disbelief. ‘Jesus, Raleigh! How could you? Have you done this before?’

This is the thing about his father – he knows what questions to ask. Things his mother, rattled by shock, didn’t think to ask. Raleigh has done it before, a few times. ‘Just one other time,’ he lies, avoiding his father’s eyes.

‘So you’ve broken into two houses.’

He nods.

‘Does anyone know?’

Raleigh shakes his head. ‘Of course not.’

‘Of course not,’ his dad repeats sarcastically. His dad’s sarcasm is worse than his mom’s. ‘Your friend knows. Who’s he?’

‘Mark. From school.’

‘Anyone else?’

Raleigh shakes his head reluctantly.

‘Is there any way you might get caught? Security cameras?’

Raleigh shakes his head again, and looks up at his dad. ‘There weren’t any security cameras. I checked.’

‘Jesus. I can’t believe you. Is that supposed to make me feel better?’

‘They don’t even know I was there,’ Raleigh says defensively. ‘I was really careful. I told Mom – I never took anything. I didn’t do any harm.’

‘Then what were you doing there?’ his dad asks.

‘I don’t know. Just looking around, I guess.’

‘Just looking around, I guess,’ his dad repeats, and it makes Raleigh feel about six years old. ‘What were you looking at? Ladies’ underwear?’

‘No!’ Raleigh shouts, flushing hotly with embarrassment. He’s not some kind of a pervert. He mutters, ‘I was mostly looking in their computers.’

‘Dear God,’ his dad shouts, ‘you went into people’s computers?’

Raleigh nods miserably.

His dad slams the table and gets up. He starts pacing around the kitchen, glaring back at Raleigh. ‘Don’t people use passwords?’

‘Sometimes I can get past them,’ he says, his voice quavering.

‘And what did you do, when you were looking around in people’s private computers?’

‘Well …’ and it all comes out in a rush. He feels his mouth twist as he tries not to cry. ‘All I did was write some prank emails from – from someone’s email account.’ And then, uncharacteristically, he bursts into tears.

Chapter Two

OLIVIA SIZES UP the situation. Paul is angrier than she’s ever seen him. That makes sense. Raleigh has never done anything remotely like this before. She knows a large part of the anger is because of fear. Are they losing control of their sixteen-year-old son? Why did he do this? He wants for nothing. They’ve brought Raleigh up to know right from wrong. So what is going on?

She watches him, sniffling miserably in his chair, his father staring at him silently as if deciding what to do, what the appropriate punishment should be.

What, she asks herself, is the civil, decent thing to do? What will help Raleigh learn from this? What will assuage her own guilt? She wades in carefully. ‘I think Raleigh should go to these people and apologize.’

Paul turns on her angrily. ‘What? You want him to apologize?’

For a split second she resents that he has turned his anger on her, but she lets it go. ‘I don’t mean that’s all. Obviously, he will have to face consequences for his behaviour. Very serious consequences. At the very least he should be grounded if we can’t trust him. And we should take his phone away for a while. And restrict his internet time to homework only.’

Raleigh looks at her, alarmed, as if this is far too harsh a penalty. He really doesn’t get it, she thinks. He doesn’t understand the enormity of what he’s done. She feels a chill settle around her heart. How are you supposed to teach kids anything these days, with all the bad behaviour they see around them, on the news, all the time, from people in positions of authority? No one seems to behave well or have any appreciation for boundaries anymore. That’s not how she was brought up. She was taught to say sorry, and to make amends.

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