Sunday, April 18, 2021

Neighbourly (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Sometimes your childhood neighbours can influence--for your entire lifetime. 

photo by ldyck


Leanne Dyck

My parents tried for many years to have a baby. They kept trying and trying, year after year, growing older and older until--

One day my mother said, "Henry." Henry--that's my dad. "Henry, I think I'm--." Voice choked with tears, she patted her belly. 

He lept up off the chesterfield and danced around the living room. My dad was very reserved. This outburst wasn't like him, at all. I would have loved to have seen it.

"Kate, you were a miracle," they always said, concluding my birth story.

I began to believe that a north star came to shine over our house on the day of my birth.

My parents weren't demonstrative. They found it hard to talk about feelings. So they expressed their love by buying me things--a toy box full. Other toys, my most treasured ones, I displayed on a set of shelves that lined one wall of my bedroom. Often, when I tell people of my childhood abundance, they say, "Oh, you were spoiled." Spoiled falls like a gavel. As if I were guilty of some crime, but being spoiled is something others do to you.

I grew up beside Mrs. Zooie and her brood of screaming children. Seldom seen, Mr. Zooie was a construction worker or worked for hydro or something--one of those jobs that allowed him to escape. When he returned to work, he left behind half-crazed kids. I wonder if he filled them up with chocolate before he left. Maybe he liked leaving his wife with a challenge. Maybe he felt guilty for having to leave.

Every time my mom stepped outside Mrs. Zooie called, "Do you have a minute?"

Knowing how lonely for adult companionship Mrs. Zooies must have been and being a good neighbour, my mom would invite her over. The minutes stretched and stretched and stretched. Mrs. Zooie sat in my dad's chair, drank our coffee, ate our cake.

Mrs. Zooie's brood, realizing their mom's absence, came marching over like a stream of invading ants.

"Kate, play with your guests." My mom's words were delivered with a look that told me that if I didn't follow orders there would be consequences. I've never liked consequences.

 Having no choice, I lead the marauders upstairs to my toy box. They veered left to my display of toys.

"No, not--."

Ignoring me, they proceeded to pull, bend, tear, and twist. Trailing toys back downstairs, they returned to their mom. 

Noticing the toys, Mrs. Zooie demanded her children to, "Be more careful!" 

Finally, they all went back home leaving behind an ocean of broken toys, leaving behind me fighting back tears. 

"I don't want them in this house," I told my mother, biting down on my anger. "I don't want them near my toys--never, ever again." 

All through elementary school, middle school, high school, my mother kept saying, "Now, Kate, we have to be neighbourly."

I graduated from high school and moved away. I visited my parents sometimes by phone or email, usually by Zoom--seldom in person. Being a foreign correspondent, I had to go wherever they sent me--even if it meant the other side of the world. I went to some exotic places and had wild adventures. Living beside the Zooies proved to be good training for my career.

After several years of travel, I was ready to settle down. In their will, my parents left me their house and all that went with it. Yesterday, Mrs. Zooie visited with her brood of exuberant grandchildren. Thanks to one of the little darlings, I now know why they advise against putting metal in a microwave. I invited them to visit again next week--because you have to be neighbourly.

This week I listened to...

And of course, I continue to faithfully listen to The Next Chapter

I'm thrilled to conclude April with a guest post.

Sunday, April 25

 Savannah Cordova will share writing tips in her article

How to Maintain Writing Productivity Through Tough Times

Her article is both interesting and helpful

Mark Your Calendar...

Poets Corner
Where Poetry Prevails
Virtual Reading
Spoken Word Night
Wednesday, April 21
7:30 to 9:30 PM PST

On this Blog in May

Mother's Day and Short Story Month inspired me to have some fun and play with the schedule. Usually, the stories I share are short enough to fit in one post, but not this May. Usually, I share at least four author readings, but not this May. Usually, I share two book reviews, but next month.

Sunday 2, 9, and 16 
Wednesday 5, 12, and 19 
A Woman Like Her (short story)
I share a six-part heart-warming, life-changing short story inspired by the events that unfolded around my mom's death.  

Sunday 23
book review
Dropped Threads: what we aren't told (anthology)
edited by Carol Shields and Marjorie Anderson

Wednesday 26
Author Reading Podcast
The Invisible Woman
Written and read by Leanne Dyck

Sunday 30
Ethan's Ferry Trip (for the young and the young-at-heart)
Written by Leanne Dyck

I hope you will enjoy spending May with me.

Are you following me?

This week not only did I receive the Covid vaccine but also got three fillings. I'm thankful for the compassionate and professional care I received. 

Sharing my Author Journey...

Looking for a project to guide me through the pandemic, I happened on a manuscript that would fun and easy to accomplish--or so I thought. Fun? Yes. Easy to accomplish? Hmm, well...

I affectionately dubbed the manuscript the monster when it began to grow. Described it as a puppy with large paws as it grew and grew and grew. This week I realized that it was a plant that had outgrown the pot. This week I found another pot and split the plant (manuscript). Now there are two. It's still fun and it's almost done--but I've been saying that, thinking that for four months. So...