Letting Life Lead
Kit answered the door with a cauldron-sized tea mug and pastry half in her mouth. Five neighborhood children aged seven to twelve shouted.
“Hey, hey! Shut it!” The gaggle quieted and Kit licked her lips before pointing her chin at the oldest girl.
“Miss, that jerkwad fixed the fence.” The girl frowned and crossed her arms.
“How we s’posed to get to the park now?” Another whined.
Kit pressed a thin stream of air through her lips. “I’ll take care of it.”
The dejected children left. She didn’t bother to change out of sweats or put on shoes. Her knock on the old Victorian’s stained glass door prompted a scruffy man to answer. His long stubble showed grays that hadn’t yet sprouted in his dark hair. She surmised they were the same age.
“Morning, Mr. Gadwall!” She pointed to her yellow cottage which was surrounded by a wild flower garden and old maple trees.
He didn’t open the door further than the width of his face.
“Remember me? I brought banana bread.” Kit put on her friendliest grin.
“The fox lady,” he replied dryly.
She’d shared with her new neighbor a week prior that his name had tickled her since Gadwall was a type of duck and Mallory meant unlucky. Her own last name — Renard — was French for fox. “Isn’t that a kicker?” she had said.
“See, school’s out for summer. Your mother and I had an understanding about the use of the fence and path. Anyway, you don’t know the whole story–” She handed him a document.
He tore the paper into tiny bits, tossed them in the air, asked her to piss off, and slammed the door in her face.
Kit banged on the frame with her fist. “Come on man! It’s the shortest way and the traffic on the main route isn’t safe for the kids.”
No response came from the house but music blared. Her nails dug into her fists and she stomped back home taking a long look at the in-ground pool set between the two houses. Oh, it was on.
A sly smile split her face.
Kit lounged on the porch sipping sangria and flipping through a magazine she had no interest in reading.
“I know it was you! Clean this up or I’ll call the police and have you arrested.” Mr. Gadwall snarled from over the property fence.
“Oh?” She slurped the straw and sauntered through the cool grass barefoot. “Clean up what?”
She peered as he pointed to the pool visible through the black safety bars. From end to end, yellow rubber duckies jockeyed for space. “Aww, someone was trying to brighten your day. You should squeeze one.”
“What does that have to — get rid of them.”
“What kind of fiend doesn’t like duckies?” Kit sighed over his sour face. Tough nut. “Come on, let’s talk.”
He stomped to his car, and sped away. Kit snapped a photo and sent a text to a friend who owned a truck and useful warehouse inventory.
Time for phase two.
When her cantankerous neighbor returned late that evening, the water was pristine. The next morning, Kit played the rubber duckie song from a speaker set in her window while pruning.
Mallory Gadwall hurled several unrepeatable phrases her way and demanded she remove the six-foot duck in a sailor hat. “Crazy –”
Kit turned up the volume and flashed him a finger while pretending to scratch her eye.
The following day, a congregation of blow-up alligators basked in the duck-free water and two police officers arrived while Kit weeded.
“Morning! Nice to see you.” She greeted them by name and exchanged pleasantries as they sipped lemonade in the sweltering heat.
“We’ve got a complaint about trespassing,” they explained.
Gadwall, dour in his crisp shirt and Bermudas, wore a smug expression. “Three times.”
“He’s mistaken. I’ve not set one foot on his property except the porch.”
“How’d you get to my pool? Fly?” Gadwall approached and the officers raised their hands.
Kit motioned to a table where property plans were spread. “I tried to tell you. Mrs. Gadwall, your mother, wanted a pool but didn’t have space. I let her build out as long as the path stayed open. Three quarters of it is on my land.”
After the town’s officers left, Kit Renard patted a stunned Mallory Gadwall’s shoulder. “I expect those fence planks will be loosened tomorrow? Pity. We could’ve been friends.”
Warden of Words // Shaper of Stories
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This is the story of building a cottage , the people and the place. Its a reminder of hope and love.
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