Squire’s Isle Created by Geonn Cannon

Good Neighbors

Summary: A woman tries to navigate her new neighbor’s strange mood swings while figuring out if she wants to be more than friends with her.

The floor was white flecked with yellow and brown. Each individual tile was bordered with a thin gold line, and the squares were scuffed with the passage of a thousand different shoes. She never spent much time thinking about the design of the floor; it was just something to walk on. But if she’d spent ten more seconds staring at it her whole life would have been different.

 

#

 

“Damn it will you come on…!”

Hannah looked over at her neighbor, who was balancing a grocery bag against her hip as she tried to work the lock with the other hand. She thought about just ignoring it, but she remembered her own frustration after moving in and what she wouldn’t have given for a helping hand. She unlocked her own door and left it open a crack before she walked to her neighbor. “Hi…”

The blonde’s shoulders jerked and she cringed to one side as if expecting a blow. She covered for the initial reaction by reinforcing her irritation.

“There’s a trick to it. Sometimes the apartment manager doesn’t bother telling people about it before they move in. May I?”

“I, uh… yeah. Sure.”

Hannah pinched the key with her index finger and thumb, extending her other three fingers to rest along the side of the knob. “You have to lift and twist at the same time. It takes a little finesse, but once you have the movement down…” She demonstrated and the lock disengaged. “You can do it without even thinking about it.”

“Thank you so much. I’ve been wrestling with the thing for five minutes.”

“No trouble. I’m Hannah.”

“Uh, Mary. Nice to meet you.”

“If you ever need a tutorial in locksmithing, you know where I live.”

Mary smiled. “I do. Uh. Groceries…” She adjusted the bag on her hip as if to prove she wasn’t making them up as an excuse to get away.

“Right. Of course. Have a good afternoon.”

“You too.”

Hannah went back to her apartment but glanced back before she went inside.

 

#

 

A few nights after their initial meeting, Hannah was entertaining a lady friend when there was a knock on her door. She apologized for the interruption and padded barefoot to see who it was. She peered around the curtain and her irritation subsided when she recognized Mary. She opened the door and smiled. “Hi. Problem with the lock?”

“No, uh.” She took in Hannah’s blue silk blouse, black slacks, and bare feet. Combined with the smell of cooking and the brunette sitting on the couch, Mary instantly began to retreat. “You’re busy. It can wait.”

“It’s really okay. What do you need?”

“It’s… the laundry room. I fed about a dollar into one of the machines and it just sat there staring at me. Is there some trick to it that I need to know?”

Hannah said, “Oh, yeah. Don’t use any of the machines along the back wall because half the time it’ll just eat your money. The ones in the middle are your best bet. And the building is safe enough that you don’t have to stand guard over your clothes. People tend to leave each other’s stuff alone.”

“Okay. Good to know.” She smiled apologetically. “I’ll let you get back to your date. Sorry. I’m sorry for interrupting.”

“It’s fine. If you need anything else, don’t hesitate.”

Mary nodded, but Hannah could tell she wasn’t going to risk coming back over that night. Hannah wished her well with the laundry and apologized to her date as she returned to the living room. Half an hour later, when they were more horizontal and less dressed, her date glanced at the wall and then kissed Hannah’s neck.

“Do we have to be quiet? How thin are your walls?”

“Mm,” Hannah kissed her as she considered the question. “Well. Not very. Mm. But she’s my neighbor on the other side. She shares a wall with the bedroom.”

“So we’d be better off staying out here?”

“You have a problem with that?”

She smiled and rolled Hannah off the couch, pinning her to the floor as she stifled Hannah’s laughter with a kiss.

 

#

 

“Oh! Are you in a hurry?”

Hannah stopped and smiled when she saw who had asked. “Hi, Mary. Not too much. What’s up?”

“Nothing this time. I just wanted to brag. Hold on.” She fished her keys out of her pocket and bit her bottom lip as she unlocked the door. She held her hands out to either side as the door swung open.

“Well done! You’re a pro already.”

“Thank you, thank you. Okay. I just wanted to show off… you’re free to go now.”

Hannah tilted her head to the side. “Actually I was just heading out to lunch. If you want to join me, I could show you some of the better places in town and which ones should be avoided. I can wait a few minutes if you have something you need to do.”

Mary hesitated and then reached into her apartment to put down her larger bag, keeping her purse as she pulled the door shut behind her.

“I was just trying to figure out what to have for lunch. You saved me a decision, and it gives me another chance to show off my door-opening abilities for you later on.”

“I look forward to that.”

There weren’t many options for lunch on the island, especially on a weekend when the tourists took over. Hannah drove them to an out-of-the-way restaurant with a driveway partially obscured by overhanging trees. It was only advertised with a small sign near the road identifying it as The Shipwreck, and Mary was shocked to see the parking lot was half-empty despite it being lunchtime.

“I’d just resigned myself to either eating at home or trying to figure out the off-times. How does this place exist?”

“Very carefully,” Hannah said as she parked near the door. “They don’t advertise near the ferry lanes, they make sure the driveway isn’t obvious, and then there’s the name. Even people who aren’t superstitious might think twice about eating somewhere called Shipwreck right before they board a ferry to go home. So the tourists stay away. But if you’re a local, it’s central in town and you’ll figure out how to get here without too much trouble.”

Mary whistled. “A restaurant in a tourist town that hides from tourists. Who would have thought?”

“Well, we more than make up for it in loyalty. We all love our tourists but sometimes it’s nice to pretend we live in a normal town.”

They were seated almost immediately, waiting only for the hostess to come out of the back to retrieve the menus and escort them to a prime spot near the window.

“So other than the little gremlins we have to deal with, are you enjoying the apartment?”

Mary hesitated before she nodded. “Yeah. It’s hard not to fall in love with this place. It’s so beautiful that it’s worth a few minor headaches. And you’ll get those headaches anywhere, so why not suffer them in paradise.”

“Exactly.”

They made small talk as they examined the menus, but once they ordered the interrogation began. Mary revealed she worked admissions at the local hospital, a job she never saw herself taking but one she’d already learned to love. She was originally from somewhere much warmer, but she appreciated the calmer, more predictable weather of the island. She was thirty-six, unmarried, no children, and bisexual.

Hannah’s eyebrows rose at that last, and Mary shrugged. “Well. I figured I saw you on a date with a woman. That was a date, right?”

“It was. But you really came to the island without knowing…?”

“Knowing what?”

Hannah smiled. “We’re very gay-friendly here. We just elected our first openly-gay mayor. It’s a very open town, so you don’t have to worry about walking down the street holding hands with a girlfriend when you end up finding one.”

“Good to know. Where I used to live it wasn’t quite as live-and-let-live.”

“Where was that? You never said.”

“Nope. I didn’t.”

“Ooh, mysterious. Okay, we can play it like that.”

Mary chuckled and Hannah took her turn. She was thirty-one, unmarried with no children, a lesbian, and she worked at a tourist shop in town.

“I know, after all the bullshit I fed you about how we want to live in a normal town, I surrender to the masses.”

“You gotta do what you gotta do. So what is it you do there?”

“Technically cashier. Unofficially, I am the janitor, bookkeeper, inventory clerk, and artisan.”

Mary tilted her head to the side with interest. “Oh, you actually make the items you sell?”

“Not all of them. We have artists from all over the archipelago who sell with us. I make jewelry from things that get washed up on shore. Stones, shells, little things.”

“So you create beauty.”

“I found a way to get paid to walk on the beach all day. Well, we don’t technically have any beaches. But the same difference.”

Mary smiled. “You know, you said you do bookkeeping. When I was a little girl, I thought bookkeeping meant that you actually kept people’s books. Like novels, textbooks… basically a fancier librarian. Needless to say I was very disappointed when I found out the truth. But it involved numbers, and I’ve always been a big fan of numbers.”

“Yeah?”

“How can you not like numbers? They’re constant and universal. No matter how hard you try you can’t make one and one make three.”

Hannah nodded. “I can see that. But I think that’s why I’ve always kind of avoided them. I kind of like when one and one make three.”

After their meal, Hannah offered to continue their tour of the island. Mary seemed to consider it but then quickly shook her head.

“I should get back home. I have some things I need to do.”

“Okay. This was fun, though. If you ever want someone to split a lunch tab with, you know where to find me.”

“I appreciate that. I really do.”

Hannah drove back to the apartments and dutifully observed as Mary unlocked her own apartment door again. She cheered and said, “See you around the building.”

“I hope so.”

While inside, Hannah took out her box of supplies and went to work on a few new items for the store. She normally played music as she worked but today she appreciated the silence. She let her mind wander to her new neighbor, the mysterious and mercurial Mary. They hadn’t even exchanged surnames yet, but she had a good feeling about their relationship. Whether it would be as friends or something more remained to be seen, but it was always nice when she actually liked her neighbors.

 

#

 

When their relationship got to the point where it required definition, Hannah decided she and the woman she’d been seeing wouldn’t work out in the long run. She brought it up over dinner and was relieved to discover they were on the same page. They finished dinner, had sex one more time just to close the door on their physical relationship, and watched a movie as their final date. She was turning out the lights to lie down when she heard Mary’s raised voice through the wall. She couldn’t make out the words, but she was obviously distressed.

Hannah hesitated and stared at the wall as she debated what to do. She didn’t want her neighbor to think she was eavesdropping, but at the same time she didn’t want to ignore it if something was really wrong. She turned and scanned the living room until she spotted a necklace she had finished that afternoon. She scooped it up and went outside barefoot, still dressed for her date. She heard Mary distinctly say, “It’s not that easy. You should know that!” as she knocked.

The argument cut off, and a few seconds later the door opened. Mary looked like she was on the verge of tears, valiantly holding them back for the sake of propriety. She smiled.

“Oh. Hey. Sorry, was I being too loud?”

“No, I was listening to my music.” She glanced past her and saw a tall brunette woman in a cheap blazer rising off the couch. She had mouse-brown hair, a long and a long dour face that looked like it belonged in a cubicle farm. Hannah was momentarily startled by how unattractive the woman was; could she really be Mary’s type? “I’m sorry. Am I interrupting?”

“No, I was just leaving.” The woman looked at Mary as she buttoned her blazer, and Hannah could see a worth of words passing unspoken between them. “Think about what we talked about, okay?”

Mary nodded and Hannah smiled politely, stepping out of the way so the woman could get around her. Hannah watched her go and then turned back to Mary.

“Are you sure you’re okay? You look kind of beat-up.”

“I’m fine.”

“I came over to give you this necklace. Kind of a belated welcome to the island.”

Mary took it and ran her thumb over the smooth stones. “This is gorgeous, Hannah. Thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome. I, um. My date didn’t exactly go as planned, so I have some wine at my place. You look like you could use a glass.”

“That… actually sounds amazingly good to me. Thank you. I’ll take you up on that.”

They went back to Hannah’s apartment, and she got a fresh glass from the dishwasher. “So who was your visitor? A date?”

“Dear God. No. No, that was…” She stared into her wine for a moment. “That was complicated, is what that was.”

“Does she have a name? Start with that.”

“Claire.”

Hannah sat on the couch, and Mary took the opposite side, turning against the arm so they were facing each other. “You two obviously have some kind of history. Want to talk about it?”

“Not particularly.” She took a sip of her wine. “Mm. That’s delicious. How about you? Your date didn’t go the way you were hoping it would. I’m sorry.”

“Oh, it’s fine. Actually it went better than I hoped. I decided we weren’t going anywhere, and she agreed. So we parted on good terms. It’s just sad that now I’m unattached with no prospects.”

Mary shrugged. “That can be good, too.”

“Very true. Here’s to being single by choice.”

They touched glasses, and Mary looked down at the necklace. “This really is gorgeous, Hannah. I can’t believe you made it from stuff you found on the shore.”

“Well, that’s where the artisan part comes in.”

“Will you put it on for me?”

“Sure.”

Mary turned and lifted her hair, scooting closer so she could attach the necklace. Mary looked down to see how it fell against her blouse as she turned back to face her. “Thank you.”

“It’s my pleasure. I’m glad you like it.”

“Listen, um. About Claire…”

Hannah nodded. Mary rubbed her lips together.

“If she comes over again, I’ll try to keep it down. I know you just needed an excuse to come over. I know you overheard me. I’m sorry.”

“Hey, no need to apologize. People get passionate about… things. I understand that.”

“I appreciate that. And I also appreciate the fact you were getting ready for bed, so I’ll just head off. Sorry again, even if it’s not necessary. And thank you for the necklace.”

“It looks beautiful on you.”

“Thanks. I…” She touched the stones. “Thank you.”

“Goodnight, Mary.”

“Night, Hannah.”

 

#

 

More dinners at the Shipwreck followed, along with movie nights in one apartment or the other. Mary had a habit of falling asleep on Hannah’s couch, and Hannah would cover her with a quilt before making her way quietly to bed. Mary was almost always gone in the morning, but if she was still there they would have breakfast together. They put profiles on dating websites as a joke, helping each other with their biographies (“Come on, Hannah. ‘Very talented with my hands’ is true!”) and laughed at the responses. Hannah was certain that after their jokes Mary went back and seriously examined some of the prospects. At least she hoped so; she hated to think she was the only one.

She also quickly learned to deal with Mary’s odd mood swings. She would go from laughter to melancholy at the drop of the hat, and sometimes she would spend entire afternoons lying on the couch in the dark. Any attempts to talk about it or help her with the problem fell flat, so Hannah settled for ensuring Mary knew she was there if she needed help.

They went bowling together, forming a small league with a pair of women who quickly became friends. At one game, while Hannah was changing back into her own shoes, one of the women smiled as her wife went off with Mary to get everyone a beer.

“So when did you guys get together?”

Hannah looked up at her. “Who… me and Mary? We’re just neighbors.”

“Oh! I’m sorry. You said you were both… well, I just assumed. Jumping to conclusions.”

“It’s all right. Hell, she’s hot. I’m honored you think she would be with me.”

“Yeah. And…”

Hannah waited for her to finish. Eventually she prompted, “And?”

“Well. The way she was watching you all night. I just thought she was half in-love with you.”

Hannah didn’t know why that made her uncomfortable, but she fought the urge to squirm in the orange plastic chair. “Nope. Just good friends. Two women can be friends, can’t they?”

“Sure they can. Sure. Happens all the time.” She turned to look toward the bar. “Although it is easier if they don’t have feelings for each other.”

They drove home and Hannah caught a glimpse of her reflection in the car’s side mirror. She hadn’t bothered with her contacts for the evening and wore her rimless round eyeglasses, her curly black hair gathered into a shrub that hung off the back of her head. She was very pretty, if she was being honest and setting aside self-deprecation, but if there was going to be something between her and Mary, wouldn’t it have already happened?

“You got kind of quiet.”

“Yeah. I’m a little tired.”

They walked upstairs together and stopped in front of Hannah’s apartment, since it was closer to the stairs. Mary said, “I had a really good time tonight.”

“Me too. I always have a good time with you.”

“Ditto.”

Hannah stepped in for a hug, but at the last moment she turned her head. The angle was all wrong, and Mary said “What?” at the last second, turning the attempted kiss into a sloppy collision of lips. Mary rocked back on her heels and away from Hannah, bringing up her hand to cover her mouth as she turned away.

“Sorry. I thought there was a…”

“No, it’s… there wasn’t. But I’m sorry.” Mary dropped her hands and sighed heavily. “I’m sorry, Hannah. It would have been very nice, and I’m thrilled that you want to kiss me. But I can’t.”

“Are you married?”

“No.”

“Are you attracted to me?”

Mary took a breath to answer, but she lost the nerve and let it out as a sigh. “It’s not that simple.”

“Of course it is. I’m attracted to you.”

“Thank you. But I can’t.”

“Why not?”

Mary was close to tears. “Honey, please, believe me. If I was going to be with anyone, it would be you. But at the same time, I couldn’t do that to you. I like you too much to be attracted to you.”

Hannah was perplexed. “That doesn’t make any sense, Mary. You didn’t drink enough to be talking like that.”

Mary laughed sadly. “I’m sorry, Hannah. Maybe we shouldn’t hang out so much.”

“What? Mary, let’s talk about this.”

“I’m sorry. I really am.” She turned and stuck her key in the lock, jiggling it and pushing to no avail. “Oh, you goddamn motherfucking…”

Hannah stepped forward and gently covered Mary’s hand with hers. She helped her turn the knob and pushed the door open, dropping her arm as it swung into the apartment. Mary hung her head and sniffled, and Hannah put an arm around her. She meant the hug to be comforting, but Mary lifted her head and completed the kiss that had been so awkwardly interrupted. Hannah kept her eyes open, but she returned the kiss simply because it would be rude not to. That was what she told herself as she pressed Mary against the doorframe and offered her tongue, and Mary trembled violently as she sucked it slowly, her hands roaming Hannah’s back before suddenly turning into claws and pushing her away.

“No! God…”

“Sorry.”

“It wasn’t your fault! Stop fucking apologizing.”

Hannah closed her eyes and took a breath, trying to steady herself. “You’re going to have to decide if we’re friends or something more. Because right now you’re driving me crazy. I’m fine with just being your friend. And I think there’s something here if we want to try for something more. But I cannot take this one step forward, two steps back nonsense.” She kissed Mary chastely between the eyebrows. “Goodnight, Mary.”

“I’m sorry, Hannah.”

“Stop fucking apologizing,” Hannah said as she shut the apartment door behind herself. She stopped on the breezeway and took a deep breath, inhaling the cold air as it blew off the harbor. Her entire body tingled with the aborted interlude, and she waited until her nerves relaxed before she walked to her apartment. She figured she would spent a few minutes in bed with a video turned on, volume low, taking the edge off what had just happened. She hadn’t lied; she would be equally happy with whatever Mary decided. She just hope the decision was made soon before she became too settled on one side of the fence and couldn’t get to the other.

 

#

 

She made no apology for liking mermaids. They populated the walls of her shop, painted and carved and driftwood statues. There was wall art that used the tailfins as coat hooks, there were dolls and blown glass objet d’art. She offered representations of other, real sea life – orcas were popular, but also dolls and jewelry of the vibrant fish that populated the waters around the island. She had a photo of the town’s mayor taken when she came in and left with an angelfish pillow for her newborn daughter’s nursery. Hannah stood behind the counter, barefoot and hair down, and looked up with a smile when the bell over the door rang. Her smile widened when she saw who her guest was.

“Mary! I was wondering when you’d get down here.”

“Hi. I’ve kind of been avoiding you since the whole…”

“Yeah. I noticed. It’s okay.”

Mary shook her head. “No. It’s not. Do you want to go for a hike?”

Hannah raised an eyebrow. “Right now?”

“No, no. Of course not. I meant–”

Hannah chuckled. “It’s okay. I can close up if I wanted to.”

“That’s not necessary. After work?”

“Sure. I was planning to close up at five.” She took a moment to examine Mary’s features, the worried crease in her forehead and the sharp line of her lips. “Is everything okay?”

Mary shrugged. “I don’t know. Five. I’ll come back at five.”

“See you then. Oh. Uh, if we’re going to hike I want to change clothes. Can we meet at the apartment?”

“Oh, of course. Yes.”

“Okay. See you then.”

She found it hard to focus on her work for the rest of the day. If Mary decided she wanted a relationship, she was no longer single. That would be great, but it would also mean their friendship would have to evolve. She loved what she had with Mary and didn’t want to risk changing it. A romance might change them for the better, sure, but it could also implode them. She managed to help the customers that came in, but she was grateful when five finally rolled around and she was able to lock up. She rode her bicycle home and changed into jeans and a T-shirt, choosing a fleece jacket in anticipation of being out after sundown.

Mary knocked and Hannah stuck her wallet into her back pocket as she hustled to finish getting ready. She greeted Mary with a smile and asked how she was; until she knew the purpose of their hike she was going to act as normal as possible. They drove to the edge of town and parked in a lot that was frequently used by people going into the island’s interior on hikes.

Hannah kept the conversation light as they headed up, asking about the hospital and telling anecdotes about customers who’d come into the shop. The island was fairly-well forested once the town fell away, and they followed an upward-angled trail that took them over the island’s stony spine. Mary had brought a pack with sandwiches and thermoses of soup, as well as bottles of water. They walked for close to an hour before Mary stopped and turned to face her.

“If you brought me up here to kill me, you should know that they won’t let you knock down the wall to make a super apartment.”

Mary was so disarmed by the comment that she laughed and looked down at her shoes. “No. Uh. No… have a seat.”

There was a rocky shelf that extended out from the side of the trail, and Hannah tested it with her foot before trusting it to hold her weight. Even if it collapsed she would only fall about three feet, but she didn’t want to scrape herself up. Mary sat next to her and held the water bottle between her thighs. Ahead of them the town seemed to be laid out like a picnic table, just starting to light up as the sun set. Boats in the harbor already looked bejeweled.

“I want to tell you a story.”

Hannah looked at her. “Okay.”

“Two years ago, there was a very wealthy… importer-exporter who lived in San Francisco. He had a very legitimate business, and he kept it funded with some very illegitimate activities. He smuggled everything under the sun and from every country on Earth, but he was careful about it. The police couldn’t make anything stick on him. He was untouchable.

“He had a son. A boy who had been given every advantage and therefore thought the world belonged to him. He would race cars just to wreck them. He would insult people in bars, and then the people his father hired to watch out for him would pay to make it go away. The boy got everything he wanted whenever he wanted it and he was still unsatisfied. So one day he decided he would rob a bank. He told everyone to get on the floor. He… there…”

Her voice broke, so Hannah reached over and touched her arm. After a moment she took a deep breath and let it out through pursed lips.

“One of the tellers had a condition. She had a watch that beeped every hour to remind her to take her medicine. It went off, and the boy heard it. He was so tense that he was sure some kind of alarm had just been sent to the cops. He went insane. He screamed at her, and when she kept saying it was her watch, he put the gun against the back of her head and shot her. The bank manager was five feet away. She got blood on her. She had lifted her head to defend her teller, and the boy had pushed his mask up so he could yell at her. The manager saw the boy’s face.

“And of course the other robbers freaked. There wasn’t supposed to be any violence. They grabbed the son and hustled him out of the bank. When the cops showed up, I… the bank manager told them they had seen his face. And she told them who she saw. She was taken to the police station and kept behind closed doors like she was an accomplice, and they made her tell the story over and over again until they were sure she was sure. She agreed to testify against the son. They promised to keep her safe.”

Hannah searched for something to say, but “wow” seemed so utterly small in the face of what she’d just heard. So she rubbed Mary’s arm.

“They didn’t even want the son. Not really. They arrested him for the murder and the robbery, of course, but he got a sweetheart sentence in exchange for information on his father. So the bank manager testified, the son got sent to a country club with armed guards, and the father is awaiting a trial on multiple charges. Meanwhile the bank manager…” She took a slow, shaky breath. “The bank manager lost everything. The job she loved. The town she’d lived in all her life. Her goddamn name. Just so they would have leverage against the person they really wanted. Hooray for justice.”

Hannah moved her hand to Mary’s and squeezed it. “I’m so sorry, honey. I had no idea.”

“I want to thank you. You’ve made it so much easier than it might have been. You made me feel like a normal person in all of this. And I fell for you. Who wouldn’t? You’re beautiful. Kind. Creative. Sweet. But I can’t do anything about it.”

“Why not?”

“Because my name isn’t Mary Grant. Everything you know about me is a lie, something made up to protect me from the people who might want to make me pay for what I did. Joke’s on them. I’m already paying for it.” She swallowed a lump in her throat and looked out over the town. “I come to this beautiful place and I get moved into an apartment next to a beautiful woman, and I can’t enjoy either of them because it’s not fair to you. It’s not fair to ask you to believe this lie. I can’t tell you the truth unless I trust you. And how can I earn your trust if everything you know is made up.”

Hannah gave her a half-smile. “I know fake facts. But that doesn’t mean everything I know is made up. I know that you rub your lips back and forth against each other when you’re trying not to cry at a movie. I know you’re kind and sweet. I know that you’re beautiful when you sleep on my couch. When I’ve had a bad day, I know I can count on you to lend a sympathetic ear and hold my hand. And I know that you do a really bad victory dance when you bowl a strike.”

Mary actually laughed at that, and Hannah smiled at the sound.

“I might not know who you are, but I know you well enough that I want to know more. If you’re comfortable enough someday to tell me who you were born as, then I look forward to that. If you want my help figuring out who Mary Grant is, then I’ll do that, too. I don’t care about the details so much as long as I still get to know you.”

Hannah leaned in slowly, giving Mary time to stop her or protest, but she never did. Their lips met, and Mary whimpered quietly as she parted her lips. Hannah closed her eyes, and Mary turned more toward her. When they parted she rested her head on Hannah’s shoulder and toyed with the zipper of the fleece vest.

“Claire told me I should do that.”

“Claire. Oh… she’s your handler, right? Is that the word?”

“No. She’s my Marshal. She takes care of me.” She sniffled. “I don’t think I’m supposed to tell you that, so mum’s the word.”

Hannah smiled. “It will die with me.” She put her arm around Mary’s shoulder and kissed the tip of her nose. “For right now, how about we forget stupid things like names and personal histories? Because right now we’re sitting on a mountain, the sun is setting behind us, and the sun is doing some fucking amazing things to the clouds and the water. It would be a shame to miss it.”

“Yeah.”

They remained leaning against each other as they took out their sandwiches, arranging a thermos of soup on either side of them. Hannah couldn’t have imagined the story Mary would tell, but she was grateful she’d trusted her enough to tell her even that much. She understood what was at stake, what she’d risked by saying the words out loud. It didn’t matter if she didn’t know Mary’s true name. She knew Mary’s true soul, and that was enough. Maybe one day she would find out her neighbor’s real name, get the real story of who she was and where she’d come from.

She already couldn’t wait to meet her again.

One Response to “Good Neighbors”

  • I loved this one too, there should definitely be more to their story