Oh no, I don’t believe this. Is that an XBox? I adjust the focus on my binoculars.

It is. It is! It’s the new-model XBox. They only came out six months ago. I suppose he was one of the first to get one. There’s the trademark green X and the new concave design. This child is so spoiled, it’s not even funny. He’s only 12 for goodness’ sake. Plus, he’s already got a brand new Compaq with high-speed broadband.

When I compare his computer to my mom’s ancient hand-me-down Macbook and wonky 3G connection, I want to scream and start throwing things. Breathing heavily through my nose, I swivel my binoculars sideways until I can see through the frilly pink curtains of his sister’s room. But here my envy reflex doesn’t kick in quite so badly. To be honest, it doesn’t look all that different to my room. It’s much bigger, of course, and way frillier. But she’s got the exact same Ke$ha poster that I have, not to mention a couple of Rihanna and Flo’Rida posters that would look right at home on my wall.

The shushing sound of a car gliding past startles me so badly I almost drop my binoculars. I flatten myself against the pillar and wait for my heart to stop thundering in my chest. I’m getting careless, I realise. This is the fourth time I’ve been up here and I’ve never been caught. Which just means that my luck is due to run out.

But then I hear the sound I’ve been waiting for. It’s a diesel engine – a Volvo, of course – growling up the hill. I squish myself against the pillar and lift the binoculars to my eyes with a painful bump against my nose. It’s them. The picture-perfect family returning home. There’s the blonde teenage daughter and the cute, carrot-top son. And there’s the slim, manicured mom. And there – finally – is the dad. I wonder what he’s doing home in the middle of the afternoon. He seems to be wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, although it’s not easy to tell at this distance. I watch the electric gate close smoothly behind them. The daughter turns to say something to her dad. To my dad. I’m just fiddling with the focus, when a hand touches my shoulder and a voice says, “What are you doing?”

Image: Steve Garfield, CC-By-NC-SA-2.0