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'Good Neighbors' by Andrew Stancek

LISP 2022 Flash Fiction Winner 'Good Neighbors' by Andrew Stancek


Good Neighbors


The new neighbor smiles, his face leathery, marked by hard living.

I’ve been pushing my lawn mower next to the fence we share, close to the willow half on his property, half on mine, and he strides up, gives me a hello wave. I turn off the motor, wipe the sweat off my forehead.

“I’m Yevgenyi,” he says, “good to meet you.”

“Alex,” I say, “likewise.”

“I’m new in the country, learning my way.” His eyes are measuring me.

I’ve had language knocked out of me recently. I don’t know what he’s heard. The mantle of grief is heavy on my shoulders, socializing never a gift.

“Fence,” he says, pointing. It is decrepit, slats rotten, stretches gaping. The previous owner’s chickens roamed into our patchy lawn, scratched out our worms. I never complained. His dogs he kept leashed. We were mainly inside, Rachel, Billy and I. My world is starker now.

I wait for more words from Yevgenyi. He has a mission, I can see, a little trouble getting there.

“Could fix,” he says, “Wire. Wood. Bushes. But…don’t much like fences. Too many fences, I think.”

I could ask him about the country he’s from, about his beef against fences. Could fill him in on deaths.

I am alone now. I don’t speak. Nothing I need to hear, nothing I need to say. Too many words.

He looks away. The realtor no doubt filled him in on the local tragedy, the house he’s moving next to. I don’t care either way.

“You want to take it down, what’s left of it, have no fence at all?” I say.

He looks up, grateful, nods.

“Fine,” I say. “Don’t need it.”

I pull the string on my mower; it revs into action. The grass keeps growing, always needs mowing.


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