Friday, July 10, 2009

Entry #39

Spelling New Neighbors
by KJ Hannah Greenberg


New neighbors, obsessed with pricey storage units, moved in. Their kids, oblivious to their folks’ fixation with order and with social status, engaged in mud play and in camping, between clumps of poison ivy, with ours. Those little ones hesitated, not in the least, to bring their potty problems to our door, or to announce to us, enthusiastically, discovered slugs, dead woodchucks, or cat feces.

Apparently, we had glamoured those youngsters so well that their parents constructed a spite fence. Thereafter, in short order, their daddy died, their mommy remarried and those delectable, messy kids moved away.

In their stead, other children moved in. They slept on our sofabed while their parents trekked the Himalayans or took scuba diving lessons on sandy, pink shores. They “baked cookies” with our own crew, using choice clay. Their yippy dog marked his boundaries, frequently, on our lawn.

Their parents removed the spite fence, having noticed its lack of utility in keeping their pup contained. What’s more, that new mom and dad babysat our gang on our anniversaries and birthdays, built snowmen with our offspring, and invited over our children, weather depending, for either lemonade or hot chocolate.

Over wine, we’d sigh on their deck, or on ours, about the increase in borough taxes, about new regulations on curbside trash and about the wonders of the local elementary school. There was as much truth in our cups as there was in those crusty, dead caterpillars one or another of our children brought home.


[KJ Hannah Greenberg has engaged in many matters of the mind, such as writing about intercultural communication for The Jerusalem Post, such as teaching chemistry to the children of expatriates, and such as coming to terms with the fact that some folk regard dumpster cats as "squirrels.” When not editing papers on the effects of electrical stimulus on the hippocampus, or ghostwriting university sociology texts, Hannah can be found sharing her ideas in speculative fiction venues. This year, some of the places that have provided shelter for her writing have included: 365 Tomorrows, AlienSkin Magazine, AntipodeanSF, Bards and Sages, Bewildering Stories, and Morpheus Tales.]

16 comments:

JR's Thumbprints said...

I like you choice of words in showing the relationship between neighbors. I can easily relate to this scenario. Good job.

Laurel said...

I love "glamoured those kids" and "spite fence."

Somehow or another, I got attached enough to the first batch of kids that I felt sorry for them by the time they moved. Nice job!

Laurel said...

Just noticed the title! "Spelling" is a term I thought unique to my geography and all but dead. Nice touch.

Catvibe said...

Nice to sort of have an epic in 250 words. Your story had a nice kind of This American Life feel to it. I enjoyed it. The spite fence was a great touch.

Aniket said...

Reminded me of my home where I grew up. I spent more time at our neighbors house than our own. The small fences, little garden and all.

Now we live on the second floor in a society. we have pool and a cub-house. But I miss the greenary and friendliness of good ol' small town home.

Thanks for taking us to a journey.

Chris Eldin said...

I loved your word choice and sentence structure! They gave a unique and fresh feel, and I thought your piece was a nice take on the writing prompt.
Very well written!!

Chris Eldin said...

(And I echo Laurel---I too, became quite attached to the first kids!)

laughingwolf said...

a nice, different take, hannah, well done...

The Preacherman said...

enjoyed that but haven't a scooby what the last bit's on about.

mind you, 6 pints of Stella, 9 bottles of Bud and what the hell?

It appears you like cats. I once had 18 (now sadly 4 due to demise through old age) therefore etc etc

Nice writing babe x


Four Dinners

BernardL said...

A very accurate picture. I especially liked the 'spite' fence.

pjd said...

I love that the wine is not even secondary in this story--it's merely an afterthought, just another dead caterpillar in a rich, full life lived with joy. Wonderfully written.

Hoodie said...

This one hit home with me. Loved the subject matter.

joaquin carvel said...

just read this twice. one would be hard-pressed to find as full and rich a story in so few words. i find the style as refreshing as the substance, and the effortless, conversational tone makes me wish i lived across the street. fantastic.

JaneyV said...

This is like a saga in 250 words. I think it was wonderfully evocative. I love your characters - it was a really lovely piece.

Jade L Blackwater said...

I like the many different facets of neighbors that you describe in this very short piece - I feel that I have stood on both sides of such fences, if not built for spite, then nonetheless a divider of worlds; your words remind me of all the good and wonderful neighbors I have known in my travels.

jason evans said...

A sweeping feel to this story. Many years passing. And memories. High marks for pacing, entertainment, and storytelling.