I’ve been living here since I was a child. I think this is the main reason why I can’t stand my neighbours; they’ve seen me through every fase of my life and they’ve witnessed my growth. If I’ve changed myself throughout life evidently it was because I didn’t like myself and I want no one to be able to see in me someone else I was before.

They can, therefore I try to keep my house door shut and they do exactly the same, I don’t know what their excuse is but I can’t be bothered finding out. This secret deal worked for me and for them and lasted until a new guy moved in. The intruder had taken the house of one of the many similar families of the neighbourhood. I liked that family because it fought the natural instinct of every family to socialise while its substitute didn’t. He looked so happy while moving in even though I know for a fact that unpacking is nothing but a fun activity. He looked happy while walking his noisy dog. He looked happy even though he was alone. So you would say that he was alone but never lonely. Luckily I hadn’t had to see that happiness for too long, although while I still had it was in total plain sight, he wasn’t ashamed of what he had or did in his own house so he would never close the curtains and we inevitably saw him doing the most basic actions always with a smile placed onto his face. But he was aware of his aloneness so, right from the start, he tried to talk to us, it was obvious that he wanted to create some bond between us, but the more he tried and the more we pushed him away and I could swear that those were the moments I actually felt part of a neighbourhood. But we couldn’t make him stop, even though he had stopped talking to us he would help us bring in the grocery bags, he would take our mail if we were on holiday and when we came back he would silently put it in front of our doors without asking for anything back. But one time he crossed the line. Where we live we just put our garbage bags right out of our houses and wait for some lorry to pass by and bring it away. But while we had to wait, all around the house door would smell horribly, but we could cope anyway, we didn’t even go out that often so it wasn’t much of a problem. One day, after bringing out the garbage, we all went to sleep to wake up at the disappearing of our leftovers even though it wasn’t the day the lorry would pass by. This kept on happening for almost a week. At the beginning we were all quite relieved, those bags of weighing junk were brought away and we didn’t have to bother with them anymore. Then we started questioning each other to find out which one of us was doing that and since nobody asked to be thanked we came to the conclusion that it was the new guy. After that came the realisation that if it wasn’t for that guy we would have kept on living in the smell and we got angry at each other because no one had never dealt with this problem before. I used to ignore these people around me, but now I was actually angry at them for being so uncaring but most of all I was angry at myself because I was like them. For us realisation came right before denial, we had lived with the smell but now we couldn’t stand the fact that we were so selfish that we didn’t even care about ourselves, to deal with this we started accusing him, asking each other what he was doing with our junk, if he never asked for anything back it was probably because he was making money out of that stuff. We knew we were right because for us there wasn’t any other reasonable explanation. Not so long after that, for the first time in our neighbourhood, one of us actually dealt with our problem, in fact we saw the same moving van that a few months ago had signed the starting of all the strangeness leaving, and our house doors were soon covered again in the familiar smell we were so used to.


Sara De Leo

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