by Amanda Hamilton
Mary sat at her counter top in her kitchen; a cup of coffee cupped in her hand and marvelled at the last few weeks. How stupid she had been. It had all started the week before Christmas…
“Oh no, she’s doing it again,” thought Mary as she walked past her neighbour’s house. “Every time I walk past, her net’s twitch. One day I am going to stick my tongue out!” Mary knew she wouldn’t. She wasn’t like that, but even so, Mary thought her neighbour a nosey old bag.
Entering her house she realised Joseph her husband was home. She knew this because she tripped over his briefcase, which he had again left right by the back door. Mary let out a yelp and all the shopping fell to the floor.
“Joseph!” she shouted, “Why on earth do you leave your briefcase in such a stupid place?”
Joseph came into the kitchen and started to pick up the shopping. “Sorry,” he said, “I was just going to move it”
“Nosey Norah’s twitching again,” said Mary
“I’ve told you, instead of just glaring, why don’t you say hello?”
“Yeah right” exclaimed Mary. “She’s weird.”
“You never know, it may make all the difference,” said Joseph.
Mary thought Joseph was too nice for his own good, never the less, the following day when she was making a cup of coffee, she realised there was not enough milk. She walked to the shops past Nosey Norah’s house.
As if on cue, the nets started to twitch and Mary decided to pull her tongue out. But before her tongue could leave her mouth, she could feel her right arm rising. Oh no! Mary thought I have just waved at her. Nothing she could now. Then something strange happened. The nets parted and Mary could see a silhouette. That was the first time she had ever seen her neighbour, even though it was in silhouette.
Continuing on her way, Mary bought her milk. On the way back, before she had even reached her neighbour’s house, Mary could still see the silhouette in the window. Feeling brave, not only did she wave, she smiled too. Nosey Norah stepped closer to the window and for the first time, she actually saw her face. It was a pleasant face, Mary thought. And then the second strange thing happened. Nosey Norah waved back and she was smiling.
Mary felt elated as she walked into her house. This was short lived, however when she tripped over Joseph’s briefcase at the door and fell head first into the kitchen. As she lay flat out, her first thought was she had saved the milk!
Then her mouth parted, “Joseph!” She screamed. “Why on earth do you leave your briefcase in such a stupid place?”
Joseph came into the kitchen and helped Mary to her feet. “Sorry,” he said, “I was just going to move it.”
Mary forgetting her frustration over the briefcase and excitedly told Joseph what had happened.
“See,” Joseph said. “Do you not think that is much better than pulling your tongue out?” Mary didn’t dare tell Joseph that she nearly did. Always the voice of reason was Joseph.
The following day, despite the chilly December wind, Mary was in her front garden assembling a blow-up Rudolph. She giggled to herself. She could not wait to have children. She would spread her festive fun to them.
Mary looked next door and nearly fell on top of Rudolph. There stood in the doorway was Nosey Norah. Mary could not believe that she did not recognise her. She had lived next door to her for four months when she and Joseph moved in as newlyweds. Mary felt ashamed she had not made an effort before.
“Hello,” said Mary
“Hello,” said Nosey Norah.
Mary walked over to the fence. “I know it’s cold, but I just love this time of year, hence the inflatable Rudolph. You should see inside, it’s like Santa’s Grotto. My name is Mary.”
“Please to meet you, Mary, I’m Alice.”
Sitting in her kitchen, Mary again marveled over the last few weeks. She and Alice had become good friends and Mary still got that warm feeling when she saw tears in Alice’s eyes when she had invited Alice to spend Christmas Day with them.
What a lesson to learn. Mary shivered. What if I had pulled out my tongue, she thought. How different things would have been.
Mary knew she would not have pulled out her tongue. Just like she knew she would not shout at Joseph every time he left his briefcase at the back door because Mary knew she was blessed. Blessed at having a wonderful husband, a wonderful neighbour and wonderful life growing inside of her.