Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The House Beyond the Fence

 Human beings become accustom to routines. We turn the coffee on before our eyes are open and we begin to get dressed. Most of us have a series of ritualistic processes that unfold each day without our direct influence. There might have been some input when they were first established, but after a while they become a part of the things we do on auto pilot.

For instance, opening the blinds each day to let the light in is something that requires little thought. It’s part of the start of the day. While it’s not likely we will consider the sounds that accompany windows wide open, the absence of noise might trigger a second look. If there were no birds chirping, or children scuffling around in the street, it would be odd and command attention; like the absence of curtains in the windows of the house beyond the fence.

Spring typically brings out the green thumb variety of yard trolling neighbors. The first crack of warm weather lets us know it’s time to plant the bulbs we’ve hidden from winter’s touch. I’d grown accustom to the top of his curly, grey head bobbing alongside the fence that separated our backyards in preparation for the colours that would come.

Steve had the most beautiful begonias in the neighborhood, he’d shared them with me once, but the bulbs never took hold on my side of the fence. We shared seeds, bulbs, garden tips and strategically aligned hummingbird feeders. While the rest of the seasons passing were marked in windows with curtains opened and closed depending on the time of day, little dog barks, and steam rising from the hot tub in the early evening hours.

He’d moved in about the same time that mom and dad bought this place and they’d been neighbors since the complex was developed. After dad was gone, Steve talked about what dad would have done with the garden and laughed about the things they tried that didn’t work. He told me stories about how they picked the kind of fence they would put up between our yards and what it all looked like before it was anything but dirt.

Planning for spring would be different this year.

There’s something about a house with dead eyes that feels awkward: empty rooms and hollow windows with no covering to define night and day. Today the house across the fence is dark and the phone that once connected two worlds not-so-far-apart no longer rings… disconnected it said.

Spring will be different this year.



  1. Oh, that's heartbreaking and haunting. Very nice story.

  2. Very poignant and beautiful!

    1. Barbara, thank you for stopping in to read for a moment.


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