Charli Mills has prompted us this week with
April 15, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about nurturing a neighborly relationship. It can be a next-door neighbor, a neighborhood critter or a neighborly place like a schoolhouse or community garden. Show what nurturing looks like for characters or places involved.
I wrote about neighbours not that long ago, looking at the neighbours I had had since living in London. However, if I go back to my earliest memories, and my family home in Caterham in Surrey (we moved away in 1969 when I was 12) we had two very different families next door. On the right, as you faced the house from the road the Stoddarts and on the left the Haylors.
I don’t have a depth of memory but I do know the Stoddards were elderly, Scottish. Mr Stoddard had a fabulous Christian name – Hastie – though he seemed to me to be anything but. He leaned over the hedge with a surprised expression on his face and said things like ‘Did ye noo?’ to my father. I don’t think he approved of my father’s evenings out at the rugby club and more especially his discombobulated state on his return.
The other memory is of his eyebrows – two volcanic explosions of white hair that appeared to be growing up his face. Of Mrs Stoddart I have no memory at all.
On the other side, the couple were younger than my parents. They adopted two children while we were there. Christopher and a younger sister, whose name has gone with the passage of time. In a reversal of my memories of the Stoddarts I recall Mrs Haylor – Olive, who of course brought to mind Olive Oil in Popeye though Mrs Haylor was I think rather better covered than her cartoon namesake. We visited the Haylor’s more, playing in their garden and more likely to have our tennis balls and footballs returned than was the case with the Stoddarts – I expect there was some Wee Free element to their coda for return, requiring us to suffer a little of the absence before we could be reunited with our playthings.
But both were friendly and my parents never said anything to make me suspect that, come a crisis they would have been there for us. That, after all is all you really want for a neighbour.
And so the flash and, of course, Mary, who last week started to try and take back some control over her life. I wonder how she’s coping with her new strategy? If you need a catch up, click here.
Better than par.
Mary didn’t know where to start restoring her parents’ garden, now the police had finished. There were the terracotta edging pieces for the flowerbeds, the plants and turfs, roughly stacked in a corner. The police hadn’t said anything about helping. And now Paul had gone away on business.
Just what she didn’t need. Her half-brother. She could just make out his eyes, like an old-fashioned Chad, peering over the gate.
She pulled it open. Rupert stood back, grinning. “I told them at the golf club about the mess. They all admired dad so they said they’d help.”