Flash Fiction – Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

A chainsaw roars loud enough to be heard over the shower. An innocent hedge is cut down before it even has a chance to bloom. But someone runs from the house, screaming, arms waving, towel trailing.

The chainsaw quiets enough for shouting to echo across a neighborhood. No one likes the new owner of the house on the corner. He ignores the common courtesies that have kept the rest in good standing with one another for over fifty years. Instead he is out for what he can get. When someone begs a favor, he demands repayment immediately. When others wave or nod as they pass, he grunts and goes back to pampering his hot rod. When he has a problem with one of the other residents of the neighborhood, he stews and lashes out in a passive aggressive manner.

And so the intended destruction of the hedge is the last straw. Where the natural boundary has proven insufficient, an artificial one must be constructed. A large roll of chicken wire appears, hooked to stakes buried every five feet. When the fence is finished, a murmur ripples through the neighborhood.

A vivacious old woman goes out to her front garden and uproots one of her award-winning irises. She has trouble getting back up from potting it, but manages to drag it across the street and replants it about five inches in front of one of the posts. She knocks on the door and the man who’d barely been wearing a towel earlier answers the door fully dressed. Water is procured and the cluster of irises perks up again.

Two teens from down the street use their little brother’s wagon to bring along two small hostas. The old woman directs them in where to dig and how to hold them so they don’t fall apart. A young couple brings their toddler over with a packet of morning glory seeds. It’s early enough in the season for the vines to coat the chicken wire fence just a few weeks. The ten-year-old son of the man in the towel gets out of a car with his mother, carrying a potted rose-of-sharon while the pot she carries holds a climbing rose bush.

In two weeks time the side of the fence that faces most of the neighborhood has bloomed into a wall of colorful perfume.

Inside the house on the corner, a medicine cabinet is stocked with antihistamines and tissues overflow the wastebasket.


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