The Green House

Full moon over the green houseLooking for inspiration I came upon 2 short stories I wrote and entered into a city living competition back when we resided at our old apartment where the tiny balcony upon which we spent much of our free time overlooked neighbouring terrace houses, notable of which was the green house. As with most of the short stories I write, they’re based on actual events.

I thought I’d share them this week, as they inspired the beginnings of a blog post about housemates, which I’ll follow with a little later.

Short Story 1 – The Green House

The endless barking of dogs which hindered my earlier attempts to sleep, intruded in the small hours of morning into the victory of my slumber and finally roused me. I staggered out of bed, down the stairs and out to the balcony. The street below was motionless and otherwise silent. I stood, barefoot on the cool tiles, staring in frustration across at the moonlit source of the barking. The green house.

Time had almost stood still for the green house, a rambling three storey terrace with a rusty roof and faded green paint over cracked rendered walls. Ivy cladding and stained glass windows were its only redeeming features but flanked by a dull paved courtyard they redeemed it little. Only heavy bars on the windows acknowledged the passing of time and changed fortune of the neighbourhood.

I woke again to daylight and the dogs’ continued barking. The dogs were fox terriers belonging to a curious and audibly identifiable household. As far as I had been able to ascertain from the auditory vantage point of my balcony, the green house was peopled by two older women who I took by the similarity of their voices to be sisters, a man of indeterminable age with a deep baritone, as well as the dogs.

Until recently, there had been much to witness. Regular raucous parties invariably culminating in acrimonious screaming of all three inhabitants at three am, were interspersed by quieter nights of loud directives, demands, refusals and ultimately arguments. In the past weeks, the dogs’ habitual barking and the cacophony of shouting and parties had been silenced.

I’d observed the man, strangely countenanced, in a dull bathrobe or oddly clothed from decades past, proceeding with ungainly movements around the narrow, dark courtyard at the back of the house, and he’d peer up at my building before fading into the shadows. Of late I had seen him on few occasions, the women none, corroborated by their audible absence.

His new modish appearance and smart attire, coming and going via the rear timber garden gate, whistling and greeting our neighbours warmly, was of equal curiosity. Later the same morning, while I was waiting for my latté in the corner café, I saw him emerge, brightly shirted, jauntily carrying a shopping bag over his shoulder, the hoarse chorus of barking still audible.

The sun shone warm on my balcony and as I basked, sipping coffee, my neighbour returned, bag laden, to an excited canine welcome. Upon opening the gate, the dogs surged against his legs causing the bag to slip and drop heavily to the footpath. Several large yellow papered tins attempted to roll into the gutter but were quickly corralled amidst remonstrations and quiet swearing.

Minutes later the sun glinted off metal, attended by the noise of a utensil scraping, instigating escalated barking. Dual clunks of sound reverberated up into the air from the cave of the backyard below me. The dogs went quiet.


13 thoughts on “The Green House

    1. Thank you 😉 Like re-reading a novel and getting a different perspective, having a look back at something I’ve written can inspire me to look at current events in new ways.

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    1. Thank you 🙂 I don’t have a huge body of short stories… I’m a far happier blogger than short story writer but I’m working on it, and reviewing what I’ve done is I hope a way to make progress.

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  1. Your story captures the experience and thoughts one has of what may be happening in the lives of your near neighbours. We have some ‘audibly identifiable’ neighbours, complete with barking dog and we often wonder what is going on, and then find out later. Usually it was not a pleasant scenario. Very thought provoking story! And yes, I read it twice!

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    1. Thank you 🙂 The first story although incorporating actual events was the product of inventive conjecture. Sadly the second story tells how it really happened.
      Sometimes I think simple proximity and presence doesn’t help but maybe it does. We also had lovely elderly neighbours who tried to manage a son with issues without involving outsiders. They knew we saw and heard what went on when he was around, and sometimes in the thick of it they would look up, I think for reassurance that someone was there if it got too bad. The son would also see them glance up, aware that a glowering G.O. was looking out, and often would curtail his behaviour.

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  2. Nicely done, EllaDee. Funny the assumptions we make about our neighbors based upon the things we hear and a few sightings. You mentioned that this story is based upon real events. I’m not so sure I want to know much more about those events. 🙂

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    1. At TA they have perfected the art of morning after payback. If a party went on on too long or too loud the night before, the other neighbours appear in unison at 7am to fire up the lawnmowers and chainsaws 🙂

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