The Next Door Neighbours

They are very odd. We never see them, even when all the lights in their house are on. Their car sits outside all the time, on weekdays and weekends, but they don’t appear to be in.

We often speculated about them, when we first moved in.

‘I think they are Polish,’ my husband said, as we heaved boxes upstairs.

‘Why do you think that?’

He shrugged, ‘everybody is Polish on this street.’

I thought that was a generalisation, and thought about going over there with some fruit tarts to be neighbourly. The oven refused to work, however, setting off a fuse every time I turned it on. So I gave up on that idea for the time being, making a mental note to do so when the oven was sorted out.

Three nights after we moved in we heard them arguing at 1am. So we crept to our windows and peered out. A tall shadow stood by the door of their sedan, while the woman inside, illuminated vaguely by the light in her car, spoke passionately, her hands moving up and down and sideways in emphasis. The shadow stooped and a hand reached into the car, but she slapped it away.

We crept back to our bed, and lay awake for another hour as the muffled arguing outside continued.

Three weeks after we moved in, a few minutes after my husband left for work, I was standing at the sink washing the breakfast dishes when I saw them. Or, rather, I saw him. He was systematically wiping condensation off his car from all sides with an ice scraper, stepping sideways each time he was done with the window. He was glancing around him in an inconspicuous manner, dark eyes darting from side to side. The way he did it was so interesting that I had to stop, turn off the tap, and watch. His hair was greying on the edges and thinning at the temples, a little messy.

Then he glanced straight into my window, through my blinds, and made eye contact with me. I was so startled I dropped the knife I was holding and it clattered loudly on the floor. My kitchen window was open so there was no doubt he heard that.

When he got into his car he turned on his windscreen wipers and his wife came out with a mug in one hand and a messenger bag dangling off the other shoulder. She had a secret smile on her face as she handed the mug to her husband(?) and got into the car. Her hair was thick and brown with grey flicks at the front. Her face was slim and olive coloured, her nose slightly pinched and her chin small and pointy.

The car reversed slowly and I fancied they were both staring at me as the car turned, and drove off.

I went upstairs to change and get ready for work, and when I pulled the bedroom curtains open, their car was there again.

Nobody was inside it, and nobody was around on the drive.

I thought that mighty curious indeed. I am having second thoughts about going over there when the oven is fixed. I don’t know what I might find.

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