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April 03, 2019 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily

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Wednesday, April 3, 2019// The Statement


isa nearly dropped the plate she
was cleaning when she heard
a large truck door slam shut. It
was the new neighbors at last. She opened
her curtains wide, allowing sunshine to
burn the dark, dustless countertops, and
peered out of her kitchen window. They
were a typical young family: a husband, a
pregnant wife and a toddler in a stroller.
They looked nice enough, but she couldn’t
tell much about them yet. She just hoped
that they wouldn’t be anything like the last
ones. The husband put his arm around the
wife. He stood half a foot above her, just
enough so that she could place her perfect,
brown curls on his perfect, sturdy shoul-
der and look longingly at their new house
together. They stared at the two-story
house, and Lisa stared too. It was similar to
Lisa’s house, just like all the houses in the
neighborhood. The outsides looked differ-
ent of course: different colored brick, dif-
ferent shapes of windows and sometimes
a different colored door. Yet, the insides
were all the same. The staircase was on the
right just as you got in, the living room on
the left and the kitchen straightforward.
All relatively the same size and structure,
but you wouldn’t know from looking at
just the outside. The husband and the wife
turned back to facing each other. They
stared longingly at each other, stared long-
ingly for their future together. Lisa stared,
When Jill and Todd, the old neighbors,
moved out, she was so relieved. She could
breathe the fresh, free-of-Jill-and-Todd-
air now when she stepped outside. The
new “sold” sign in front of their house cre-

ated such an excitement in Lisa that she
made cookies to welcome the new neigh-
bors. So far, she had made four batches.
Batches one and three were too burnt,
batch two had fallen to the ground and
batch four was perfect but made prema-
turely. This fourth batch had been sitting
in a Tupperware bowl waiting for the new
neighbors for three weeks until they got
stale and it was time for them to be thrown
away. Now, after six weeks, the neighbors
were here, but she had no cookies for them.
A new list of priorities instantly
appeared in Lisa’s mind. Her unfinished
dishes fell to the bottom of the list and a
fifth batch of cookies for the new neigh-
bors rose urgently to the top. She gath-
ered the materials, followed her recipe,
and mixed the ingredients together while
looking outside her kitchen window.
Light from the outside could barely
sneak past the thick curtains of Lisa’s
window into her dimly lit kitchen, but
she adjusted them just enough so she
could peek through and watch the neigh-
bors move in. The stacks of boxes getting
unpacked made her question if moving was
ever really worth it. There was the physi-
cal labor of moving everything, of course,
but there was also the mental labor. Leav-
ing a place that’s comfortable, a place that
makes sense, and going to a place where
your whole life just becomes about trying
to adjust to it. She was just happy that Jill
and Todd made this sacrifice.
The neighbors were on a break now.
She watched them chat and monitored
their expressions. The couple was social-
izing with the movers. They all had bright

eyes, glowing faces, shining smiles. When
they laughed it looked genuine, like they
were actually enjoying themselves. The
wife’s hair would fly through the wind as
she threw her head forward with laugh-
ter. The husband’s strong hands would
slap his thighs as if the laughter was too
much for him. She wondered what kind of
jokes existed that would create so much
laughter when first meeting someone. The
neighbors began to point out things to the
movers, asking them questions, or some-
thing, but suddenly they looked at Lisa
like they could see her right through her
window. She could swear right then that
their laughter turned to frowns, disgust
and irritation. The sun burned their faces.
Their skin turned a bright red. Maybe they
knew this was her fifth batch and the cook-
ies weren’t ready on time. Whatever it was,
Lisa knew she made a bad first impression
and all she could hope for was that the
cookies would taste good enough to make
up for it. When the neighbors turned back
away, Lisa closed the curtains and began
to mix with more fury.
Soon enough all the ingredients became
one consistent bowl of dough ready to
again be separated from the rest onto a
pan. Lisa scooped the mixture out, making
several even piles of dough one and half
inches in diameter. She had such a good
eye for measurements that she didn’t need
a ruler anymore while she baked, but at
that moment she was having trouble see-
ing. The brightness of the sun was still
affecting her vision, creating more and
more dark spots every time she blinked.
Lisa placed the spoon down back into the

bowl and pressed her fingers to her eyes
trying to get them to adjust. Each time she
closed her eyes for too long, the sight of the
neighbor’s frowns would appear and take
over her vision. She had trouble remem-
bering the size of their noses or the width
of their eyes, but she knew exactly what
their frowns looked like.Judging frowns,
hateful frowns, they burned her brain.
She opened her eyes back up and felt
adjusted to the comfortable, dim lighting
of her kitchen. However, even when she
went back to scooping, she couldn’t get
the image of their frowns out of her mind.
With each scoop, Lisa couldn’t help but
continue to ponder the details of the inter-
action she just had with the new neighbors.
With each scoop she became more anxious
to know why on Earth her new neighbors
reacted this way. By the time she was at the
scoop that ended the third row of cook-
ies, Lisa knew why the neighbors were
disgusted by her. She started to slam the
cookie dough onto the pan, careless about
the evenness, and imagined each one as
the heads of Jill and Todd. Every other
scoop would be Jill then Todd, Jill then
Todd, getting what they deserve. Because
Lisa knew it was their fault. They had told
the neighbors every bad thing about her,
lies about her, just to get back at her. This
infuriated Lisa, but still, she had hope that
the sweetness of the cookies would change
their mind about her. She quickly fixed the
unevenness in the last row and threw the
pan into the oven.
The question continued to pound inside
Lisa’s head. She didn’t actually know what
Jill and Todd would’ve told the new neigh-
bors, since she rarely allowed herself to be
seen by them. But maybe Lisa was a bad
neighbor in ways that she didn’t even real-
ize. Maybe they could hear her TV playing
too loud, too late on those nights when she
couldn’t sleep or they could tell when she
was late mowing her lawn and her grass
had grown too long next to theirs. Every
morning when she left early for work, she
could see their lights turn on as she pulled
out of the driveway as if the sound of her
car had woken them up. And every night
when she came back home late and they
were sitting on their porch, Jill and Todd
would wave to her. The wave itself was like
any friendly, neighborly wave, but their
eyes were squinted as if they were focused
on something else. Sometimes it was star-
ing at her grass that was too long, or her
car that was too loud, and sometimes it
was just an exhausted look that told Lisa
that their misery was her fault.

The fifth batch a short story


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