A person who lives near another is a neighbor. The word evokes closeness beyond proximity and can have a friendly feel to it. This week, writers explored what it is to nurture neighbors as part of the nurturing theme for #1000 Speak for Compassion, which is itself a growing neighborhood of bloggers around the globe. Social media can make us feel as though we live next door.
Earth Day is also on the minds of writers this week and we pause to wonder what kind of neighbors we humans are to other inhabitants on this shared earth. To nurture creation, to be stewards of the land, we can consider neighborly acts that make a difference.
Writers follow where the prompt leads. The following stories are based on the April 15, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about nurturing a neighborly relationship.
Sanctuary by Sherri Matthews
A loud thump shattered Carrie’s sleep.
Cold fear seized her racing heart as she swiped in panic at the bedside lamp, sending it crashing as her baby wailed into the darkness.
Carrie raced to his room as Bumble bolted across her feet, black tail spiked like a Christmas tree.
Relief, like a hot bath, melted Carrie’s terror when, as she flipped the light switch, she saw a picture frame knocked to the floor.
Cuddling her baby in the soothing silence, Carrie breathed again.
It wasn’t gunshot; nobody was on their roof.
Safe at last, in their sanctuary.
Flash Fiction by Anne Goodwin
Another bloody parcel? Working from home, I’m their unpaid concierge? Answering the doorbell kills my concentration. Stomach rumbling, I peer into the cavern of the fridge.
No time to trek to the shops for something healthy. Scarfing crisps and biscuits, I stare out the kitchen window. Must ask the neighbours to cut that tree back: it’s encroaching on my patch.
Funny, I never wondered what kind of tree. Now’s my chance to take a closer look. Reckon I’ll take a bowl with me, a big one. There’s plums and pears beyond and strawberries. Perfect for a nutritious fruit salad.
Unproductive Progression by Rebecca Patajac
The future had come. Endless chambers of cold lights and pre-fabricated possessions created a norm no one felt part of.
One small council of a great metallic city met.
“Daily accidents again,” reported a hard eyed man, “sicknesses, absences.”
“Lines can’t continue this way,” said a stiff lady, “we’ll hear from higher up soon.”
“No one’ll be excepted,” said a shaken, elderly male.
A young girl took a breath, “what if we asked people? Found out what they need? What’ll help them be happy?”
The council members fell back in their chairs; it can’t be that easy. . .can it?
Vanda’s Vision by Taly Pendragon
“Wow, this vision of yours is pretty special, isn’t it?” Brian soothed as they walked back across the precincts of Glastonbury’s ruined abbey. “Would you tell me about it?”
Vanda continued: “It’ll be a visitor attraction. One where visitors will experience how a medieval monastery worked on a day-to-day basis, and feel how it was to live the experience. But so much more … a centre of learning, for all ages … archaeology, history, and spirituality. We’ll give people the understanding of it all, while all the time entertaining them beyond their wildest dreams, and rekindling a real community.
New Neighbors by Sarah Unsicker
“Welcome to the neighborhood,” Cecilia said as she handed a plate of fresh chocolate-chip cookies to the woman supervising the furniture movers.
“Howdy,” the woman said. “I’m Mary. You can see my renegade children, Gracie and David.”
Cecilia was taken aback when she noticed David. He had black hair, like Carlos, and was the same age as Carlos had been when he—
Choking back tears, Cecilia answered, “You’re not— not from around here, are you?”
Mary looked at Cecilia, and her eyes softened. “The house is a mess, but would you like to come in for some coffee?”
A Finite time for Nurturing by Irene Waters
She gave birth to me,
suckled and fed me
Taught me my manners
the ten commandments
She nurtured me.
I felt safe and warm
my tummy was full
I was encouraged
My learning fostered
and my interest fuelled
in that about me
She nurtured me.
That was then.
Now I am older
She needs to let go
Allow mistakes to be made
Not stop caring
But release me
to be the adult
I was raised to be.
Nurture belongs to the young
Don’t smother me
Let me be free
Is to let my child go.
Cracking Up by Sarah Brentyn
“Hi, there. Can I borrow some eggs?”
“Um. Sure, I guess. I…” Molly opened the door wider. The woman on her front porch stood a solid foot taller than Molly, who took a step back. “Um…how many do you need?”
“Whatever you’ve got,” she smiled and held her hand out. “I’m Louisa. Just moved in next door. I haven’t even unpacked the truck yet and that one,” she jerked her head toward the house across the street, “already complained about my lawn, insulted my garden, and yelled at my dog. I’m egging her house.”
Molly grinned. “Please, come in.”
The Caravan by Norah Colvin
Children waited anxiously at windows and front garden fences.
Mothers and fathers hurried to complete the last of their chores.
Others, already at the park, were unable to wait.
Ears strained, listening for music signalling, “It’s time!
Suddenly “Girls and boys come out to play!” announced the arrival of the brightly painted caravan.
“Come on!” urged children, tugging at skirts, trousers and hairy legs.
“Come on!” chimed parents, downing cloths and brooms. Clasping small hands they whisked them out.
Everyone watched as the doors of the caravan opened; ready for fun: stories, games and much to explore!
Better Than Par by Geoff Le Pard
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.”
Chipping in by Luccia Gray
‘Where are you taking that roast chicken and the cake you baked?’
‘Down to Dolores.’
‘Stop meddling. It’s none of your business.’
‘But he’s done it again.’
‘He’ll be back.’
‘Not this time. It’s been over two months.’
‘She’ll sort it out.’
‘How? She’s got three children under eight, and she’s unemployed.’
‘She can claim social security.’
‘She has. She gets 400 euros a month and she has four mouths to feed.’
‘Do you really think we can feed four more people?’
‘Just once every two weeks. It’s our turn today. The neighbours have all decided to chip in.’
The Ceremony by Urszula Humienik
I’d say the ceremony had begun as usual, but there was no usual anymore. We all met in the abandoned concert building we’d been working hard for several weeks to restore best we could. The heat was merciless to the wood, but the paint made it look almost new. When Daniel and the rest of our neighbors arrived, the ceremony began.
Alan, our next door neighbor, got up on stage and spoke. “Welcome to our new community center. This is where anyone can come for advice and support, where we will divvy rations, and we will meet every week.”
Ivor Oaks by Ann Edall-Robson
The old schoolhouse located at the edge of the hamlet of Ivor Oaks was surrounded by oak trees and grain fields.
The windows in the building had been boarded up to protect the flawless six-square glass frames. The walls were solid and the roof had the look of a well loved patchwork quilt. The light from the open door revealed the smooth, well worn, original wooden floor.
Restoration funds had been procured. At the project’s completion, the Ivor Oaks Art and Cultural Retreat would be nurtured into a sanctuary for artisans to gather together to create and inspire.
Nurture Thyself by Ruchira Khanna
Ann jumped into the train. She could squeeze herself partially through the door, and that alarmed her co-passenger. Was about to pull the chain, but instead she shouted, “I have a 9am crucial meeting. Let the train go on!”
She would always be coaxing herself to go on, strive for the best!
Until one day, her body collapsed on the road.
She was in the hospital, and while the doctors and the medicines helped recuperate her organic structure, she chose to meditate and chant while nourishing her soul that was bruised by her continuous vexations, and negative stimulus.
Roses by A.R. Amore
Stooped in the garden, mulching the fourth rose bush, an elderly woman appears outside my wrought iron fence. “Excuse me,” she says. “May I have a rose?” Looking up, I tell her absolutely and cut several red blooms, shearing off the thorns then handing them to her. “My father planted those,” she attests, “after he built this place in 1918.” She clutches the roses close to her nose, inhaling and then shuffles out of sight. Her daughter arrives, breathless having just run around the corner. “Mom, wait,” she yells. “You found the house.” Still kneeling, I offer another rose.
The Friendship Time Couldn’t Break by Sacha Black
I hated conferences. Too many people, too much small talk. I leant against the wall headphones in, hoping for peace.
Our song was playing in my ears, a reminder of tarnished memories, a friendship lost. We were both wrong. Both proud.
“Sacha,” she waved, icy recognition flooded my body.
I froze. I’d been the one to hold out an olive branch. She’d snapped it.
But it was a friendship time couldn’t damage. If I put my arm out, I had to forgive. Forget. Nurture the friendship back.
Sometimes the universe brings you together for a reason.
“Shell…” I smiled.
Cage Free Kids by Pete Fanning
They ran along the creek, a twig snapping gust of pants and giggles bound for the nearest refrigerator. Jacob led the way, lurching to a stop when he saw the police car. Mrs. Morton, his new neighbor, jabbed a finger at the boys. The officer waved them over.
“Where are your parents?”
They stood heaving, their mud-speckled legs tattooed with briar whelps and mosquito bites. Jacob finally piped up.
“What are you kids doing out all alone?” Mrs. Morton asked. Jacob glanced at Tyler, then to Keon, whose water-logged shoes left dark imprints on the asphalt.
Save the Park by Susan Zutautas
Martha, I hear they want to remove the children’s park down the street and build some fancy hi-fluting high rise in its place.
But they just put in that new pool for the kids last summer and upgraded the play equipment. What a waste of good money!
I’m sure that I read somewhere that that park always had to stay a park. I’m going to investigate this.
Ha! Looky here, it states that William Right donated this as park land with the stipulation that it would always remain a park. I’m going to put a stop to their plans!
Jimmy by Larry LaForge
Edna smiles every time Jimmy calls her husband “Mr. Ed.” It reminds her of a talking horse on television.
As a youngster growing up next door, Jimmy was constantly in Ed’s garage. Ed helped keep Jimmy’s bicycle in top shape. Chain, brake pads, tires, handle bars—all monitored and adjusted.
As the years passed, the caring continued—with the roles reversed.
Jimmy inherited his family home and is still constantly in Ed’s garage.
Jimmy wipes his greasy hands after tuning up Ed’s aging Chevrolet. “That should do it, Mr. Ed.”
Edna chuckles as she rocks on the back porch.
Neighborly Garden by Marigold Deidre Dicer
It was the first summer she’d noticed the little garden hadn’t been tended. The flowers were still managing, but the ground was cracked and the leaves had begun to dry. It was always a highlight on her walk, and she’d always wondered who tended to the strangely well-kept garden that sat outside the old apartment block.
So the next day, she came back with a watering can. The day after, someone had tipped fresh soil around the flowers, but it hadn’t seemed properly tilled. She smiled and came back with trowel and fork to finish what her neighbour started.
Pacing Polly by Paula Moyer
Jean saw her in the store every Friday. “Pacing Polly.” Skinny, gorgeous white hair, she paced the aisles, yelling to someone no one else saw.
But Polly had good days. So Jean held out hope and greeted Polly every Friday. Most of the time, “hello” got a glare back, more pacing.
Then one day.
“I need some objectivity.” The voice from behind startled Jean. Polly’s eyes were blue and lucid. “I got this as a gift.” A wrap-throw combo. “What’s it for?”
Jean explained. Polly flashed a radiant smile.
Next Friday, Polly paced. Jean hoped for another good day.
Welcome to the West by Charli Mills
Viola graduated from normal school in Wisconsin, class of 1909. She assisted a teacher her father knew back home. Most of her students were children of neighbors she grew up with. Viola craved something more wild. Her father winked, though her mother fussed when she announced her appointment out west.
A strong wind battered the train as it pulled up to a remote rough-hewn platform. Whistles blew and Viola stepped off to face strangers. A man approached her, doffed his hat and introduced her to the small crowd gathered.
“Howdy, Neighbors! Welcome our new schoolteacher!”
They smiled and cheered.
A Visitor on the Verandah by Jeanne Lombardo
The first arrived, a slip of night on the verandah. A sunset flash of carp trembled between sharp teeth, then disappeared. “Meeer,” he said.
At first he lived outside, lapping his milk among the morning glories and cyclamen. When the wine-colored maple leaves spiraled down, she let him in.
Through the winter, she loved him.
In spring, three others appeared.
In summer, the end came.
“You’ll have to get rid of the cats,” the university president’s secretary said. “It’s Sensei’s koi pond . . . ”
And she’d thought herself lucky to get that apartment overlooking President Nonaka’s garden.