I PRIDED MYSELF ON BEING A GOOD neighbor. My husband, Charles, and I knew everyone who lived along our rural road. Walking that road now, I thought about how we all relied on each other. We picked up mail for people on vacation, lent out tools, watched each other’s children. Each house I passed held a friendly association.
It hadn’t always been this way. At one time, Kelly and I had had a good relationship. Our children were close in age and often played together. Our husbands were buddies. I never went by her house without waving or stopping to chat if I saw her outside.
Not anymore. If Kelly was out in her yard when I walked or drove by, I acted as if I didn’t see her. As if there were a big wall between us. At first, it felt satisfying to let Kelly know what I thought of her. Today the sight of her house just made me sad. How did things go wrong?
It had all started with a cat. A stray who turned up in my driveway. That wasn’t unusual. I already had two stray cats I’d adopted as well as a dog. But this cat was aggressive. He drove my own cats away from their food bowls on the porch and hissed at me when I tried to shoo him off.
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