Your Neighbor's Keeper
858 words long
But you're never told what would have happened. And the important moments never announce themselves except in the rearview mirror.
an antisocial fictionette determines to be a better neighbor
- 858 wds. long
This week's Friday Fictionette is called "Your Neighbor's Keeper." And it took me something like half an hour of staring at the screen to come up with that title, so you'd better appreciate it. Seriously, what is with me and titles? Sometimes I wonder whether having to come up with one every first through fourth Friday is using up some sort of non-renewable resource. Like, there's only so many title-length combinations of words in the world. One day I'm going to run out.
Anyway, like the author's note says, this particular short-short started from one of those tiny, mysterious moments that defy explanation, while being at the same time too mundane to be worth wondering about. But being a writer means I have carte blanche to wonder about stuff that isn't worth wondering about, right? That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I changed the building numbers to building letters, and I changed them from condos to apartments, but otherwise that happened right here on my block. Minus the destruction, of course.
The other aspect of the fictionette that's drawn from life is my own shameful inattention to the people around me. I don't know many of my neighbors. I don't attend the neighborly gatherings at the clubhouse. I've a terrible memory for names, and I tend to look at hands and skates and helmets rather than at faces. I don't remember what she looked like, the stranger who interrogated me in the cul-de-sac, and I don't remember the car she drove. All I remember is my bare feet on the sidewalk and my wondering why she then disappeared around the corner of the dog park at the retirement home.
You know, come to think of it, she was probably just visiting someone in the retirement home, or going on a volunteer or staff shift. There isn't much legitimate parking for those purposes. She was probably just making sure that the only witness to her parking job didn't live in the nearby buildings and thus have standing to get her car towed. (Not that it was in any danger of getting towed. As long as you don't park by the yellow curbs or in a covered spot you don't own, you're fine.)
Anyway, I did the final revisions on this fictionettes from a table at Blooming Beets across the street. The server-cum-host who showed me to a table noticed that I'd been working on my laptop while I waited for a table to open up; she pointed out that, as luck would have it, I got the table with electrical outlets. She seemed to be one of only two servers on duty during a rather busy night during First Bite Boulder, but neither of them rushed me nor made me feel weird for dining alone or working on the computer.
I splurged on the wine pairings, which turned out to be quite a lot of wine. I reassured the server that it was OK, I walking home. And that it was very silly that although the restaurant had been open a little while now so close to my house, it took an event like First Bite Boulder to get me to finally visit. She lit up and said she, too, lived just up the street. Check that out: We're neighbors. We gave each other our names and shook hands.
And I made sure, for once, to really look at her as we exchanged "pleased to meet you"s and "see you again soon"s. I still have a terrible memory for names and faces, even when I'm trying my best. But I made sure, for once, to try.