I have a new neighbour out the back – well at least I think I do! I haven’t actually seen or, until this morning, heard anyone! But I’m pretty sure my old neighbour of 4 years, packed up and moved out about a month ago.
For 4 years we had greeted each other over the fence while tending to our washing. I had enquired after her little boy, who as a baby and a toddler had screamed and cried ALL DAY LONG and I very rarely saw him outside and certainly never playing. He was attending Prep this year his mum had told me. I didn’t see a lot of my old neighbour because I found that when she was outside sitting at her table, I preferred to be inside … My old neighbour was a serious smoker and obviously as a renter, she was not allowed to smoke inside, so she chose to sit out the back and smoke … morning, noon and night! And her cigarette smoke would waft into my bedroom, into my kitchen, into my washing on the line and into my lungs.
I was not unhappy when my old neighbour moved out but to not even mention she was moving seemed odd to me. But I digress …
After an initial period of time, when there were painters in the unit giving it a spruce up, a For Rent sign went up at the end of the driveway. Every now and then, I’d hear the voices of the agents and just occasionally an outdoor light would be left on. Then one day all the blinds and curtains were pulled shut tightly – never to be opened again, it would seem! The mystery continued.
I noticed, one morning, that a small outdoor table plus one chair had appeared. On the table was a lamp – you know the kind – that gives you light and keeps the insects away and next to the lamp was a rather large ashtray!! My worst nightmare was happening again.
Slowly but surely, and I might add silently, other bits and pieces began to appear in the back patio of the unit. Some tools! A whipper snipper! Some weights! Some clothes in a basket! Still the curtains and the windows remain closed … very odd! I assume that my new neighbour is a male but I have no real proof.
In 3 weeks there has been no washing hung on the line, no noise emanating from the unit and absolutely no smell of cigarette smoke or any smoke at all. Very occasionally, I can see light peeking around those closed blinds. Is there really someone living there?
Then this morning at 6:15am, while I lay in bed, I heard it. The distinctive click of the screen door as someone opened it! By the time I realised that it was coming from next door and woke up enough to jump out of bed and peek through the window to see who was there – sadly, all was as it had been for the previous weeks. Windows, doors, curtains and blinds all closed tightly and nothing at all to see!
I believe I have a new neighbour, out the back! I still haven’t seen them but I have heard them after this morning. I wonder – do they work shift work or maybe they are FIFO (fly in fly out) at the mines? Are they lonely or just alone? Maybe one day I will find out. Meanwhile, I am enjoying the relative peace and quiet and most especially the lack cigarette smoke permeating through my home!