The nondescript neighbor across the street moved today. Sam saw the moving truck leaving the house as he came home. He never remembered her name. In fact he had barely had a conversation with her, other than the cursory “Good morning” if they happened to leave their respective houses at the same time. It was awkward. There was something about her that he just couldn’t put his finger on. She was very attractive but was haughty and aloof.
The first time he met her was when Tom, his neighbor next door, had introduced her the day she moved in to number 2024. Sam had attempted a friendly inquiring conversation with a “Welcome to Westbrook! Where are you moving from?”
She had stared at him and he noticed her eyes were a deep cerulean blue. She seemed startled, but recovering quickly she became closed off, almost cold, and made almost no more eye contact. She offered an excuse and said she was busy with the move and that was that. Tom and Sam looked at each other and shrugged. Since that day she had made no friends with anyone as far as he knew. She kept herself private and non-communicative.
Sam used to joke with the other neighbors that she was likely in the Witness Protection Program or she was on the run from the police. He couldn’t recall one time when she had attempted to make conversation.
She never attended any of the neighborhood social parties and always kept her porch light off on Halloween so the children never went near her house. One year the kids tricked her instead and toilet papered her front yard. No one knew whose kids were responsible and they pretty much left her to clean it up by herself. Sam felt a little bad about driving off to work the following morning seeing it there but he had a meeting to attend. When he returned home it was all gone and he assumed she had cleared it up herself or got someone to do it. He never gave it another thought.
“So she moved out then.” Sam said to Tom who was out in his front yard. He continued, “I sure hope we get someone a lot nicer moving in. She was a cold witch, don’t you think?”
Tom replied. “I don’t know about being a witch. She was never nasty to any of us. She was just private, you know”
“I guess.” said Sam as he headed to his front door. “See you later Tom”
As Sam put his key in the lock, he looked down and saw a box with an envelope taped to it. It had his name on it.
He took it into the house and placed it on the kitchen table wondering what it might be. It was a handwritten envelope and no marking on the box so UPS hadn’t delivered it.
He opened the envelope, which held a card. He read it.
I know you and I have never really had a conversation but I have watched you daily for the past year.
When I was introduced to you on that day I moved in, you lit a fuse in my heart. I cannot explain it. It was incredible and the feeling was very strong, like I had met you before or I had known you in some other life. I wanted desperately to get to know you but it would not have been fair
I had no close family, having divorced several years ago, and no children. I was looking for a fresh start somewhere when I got the crushing news. I was told I was dying and the doctors had given me one year at best. I had already chosen this house before I knew of my illness. I thought it would be a wonderful neighborhood to make new friends. I’m sure it was but I never wanted to be a burden on anyone so I kept my prognosis to myself.
I wish I had known you in this life. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.
See you next time around.
Sam felt quite shaken as he put the letter down. She had died. He was overcome with sadness. Why hadn’t he tried harder to get to know her? He opened the box and inside was a smaller box in which was a gold heart on a chain.
On a small card it said…
“You stole my tender heart on the day I met you but I had to take it back. I leave you this in its place…L”
Christine Bolton – Poetry for Healing ©
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
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