Friday, 12 August 2011

The Neighbour

Her voice startles me. I had been lost, hypnotised by the wet brush slapping back and forward, backwards and forwards, creosoting Aunt Marjorie’s fence to the symphonic hum of an orchestra of bees.

“Hi,” she says. I see her most days. I see her walking, her head held high, proud shoulders squared, steps light and lively. Even the dog’s trot is carefree by her side. She lives in the house along the road. And she lives there alone. Not that Aunt Marjorie has told me this. I just notice stuff like that. Like I know the man at number ten never locks his shed. I’d lock my shed if I kept in it what he does. It’s the time I’ve served. I notice things.
She says “hi.” She says “hi” every time we meet, every time I pass her house and she’s in the garden: “hi.” It’s only a matter of time before she tries a conversation. Makes me laugh. She wouldn’t speak to me at all if she knew who I was. But nobody recognises me. Even Aunt Marjorie wasn’t sure when I turned up at her door, kitbag in hand.

“Hi,” she says, her bouncy steps pausing. The dog tugs to keep walking. He’s the sensible one here.
“Hi.”
“I could do with someone to creosote my fence,” she says, laughing.
I make myself smile, and turn back to my brush, painting back and forward, backwards and forwards to the sound of bees humming.

And then I glance over my shoulder to make sure she's walking away.

10 comments:

  1. Ooh, this has a nice creepy feel to it.

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  2. Think he's going to do something not so very nice.

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  3. Fella just wants to be alone. I'm willing to read "curmudgeon" into the scene rather than "serial killer," even though with fiction these days...

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  4. Creepy indeed! Glad I'm not a neighbor for sure...

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  5. This had a nicely creepy tone. So much left to the reader's imagination. Nice job.

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  6. It's funny how some people will take so much interest in their neighbours and then will them away when they make the effort to talk. Great piece.

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  7. So, so creepy. Yikes. Ok, I need to check all my doors now to see that they're locked.

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  8. Brilliant to get some feedback. thanks guys!

    Tim, Deanna, Danielle, Jen - creepy was the effect I was aiming for, and I had to lock my own door after I'd written this!

    John, Sonia and Icy, yes I love the stories we all make up about people to fill in the gaps. The reality is (thankfully) never that exciting.

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  9. It used to be the way with us (according to people of the foreign persuasion) that we British would never talk to each other until we had been introduced. It was true. It still is true. What has changed is that nobody introduces anybody any more. So no one speaks. When a courageous soul dares, after a long period of perfunctory nods or 'Hi!", to say something else, it is going to be ridiculous, banal, a propos very little. "nice bike, mate", "Cor - the weather, eh?" (always a good one to cover up nervousness), "I could do with someone to creosote my fence". Are we allowed to use creosote any more, by the way? move along... nothing to see here... move along...

    :-)

    M

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