Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Friday Flash #62: Good Fences

"Are you moving?"

I stopped myself from uttering the sarcastic response that sprang to mind in light of the moving truck and obvious packing going on, and settled instead for a brief nod.  The elderly busybody thrived on knowing everybody's business, whereas I thrived on privacy.  We'd never gotten along particularly well.


"I'm concerned the cops will discover the bodies in the basement."  Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped.  I left her standing there and went to collect the next box.  I wondered what it said that she was at least contemplating believing my wild fiction.

"Where are you going?" she asked as I returned.


She waddled in front of me, so I had to either step through the gardens or push her out of the way to continue being productive.  I rolled my eyes as I finally met her gaze.


"I don't know," I told her, and I wasn't entirely lying.

"Well where is the truck going?"

"It's taking my stuff to storage.  If I ever get it packed…"

She didn't take the hint.  I can't say I was surprised.  I took a deep breath in an attempt to give my internal censors time to work.  I shook my head and shoved past her, closer than would ever be deemed polite, but not so aggressively that she lost her balance.  When I returned, she'd removed herself from the path, but still watched every move I made.  Her husband sat, as he always did, in his rocker across the street.  In five years, I'd yet to hear him say a word or see him venture farther from the house than his porch.

In truth, I didn't know where I was going.  I just felt immensely dissatisfied where I was and had deemed it time to move on.  My job allowed me to work from anywhere with a decent internet connection.  I had vague plans to drive south and east until I found somewhere warm and sunny.  This town, which had once seemed so quaint and peaceful, had been plagued by the same issues as small towns everywhere and the novelty had worn off.  But worse than boredom inspired drug use and a disproportionate number of teenage pregnancies, people had been going missing.  As the anxiety rose on the streets and local news celebrities had been replaced by state reporters, it occurred to me that nobody would even notice if I were to disappear.  Work would clue in eventually -- but I doubted they'd do anything other than have HR fire me via email.

So I decided it was time to go.  Start over somewhere that I wouldn't have to shovel the driveway.  Maybe a city this time, where anonymity was the expectation rather than the exception.  Somewhere I could pay an exorbitant amount for an average latte served by a barista who can't spell.

By the time I finished packing, my own personal neighbourhood watch had her lips curled in tightly and anger creased her forehead.  It became a stubborn point for me not to address her.  As I climbed into the truck, she never moved.  I didn't say goodbye and she didn't wave.  I just left her standing there glaring as I pulled out.
A few days later I found myself on the other side of the country, contemplating options for my next home.  I sat in a busy sports bar and half-heartedly watched the tv while I awaited my order.  Football switched off as two talking heads appeared.  Breaking News!  The national anchor started talking, her words transcribed on the bottom of the screen.  Husband and wife serial killers arrested.  Parts of dozens of bodies spanning a time period of decades found in their basement.  Neighbours describe them as quiet, loving, and part of the community.

On the screen showed the house across the street, the porch swing now empty and still, accompanied by a mug shots of my nosy neighbour and her quiet husband.


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