Neighbours as a phrase gave me less to go on than the photo of this lovely pair of doors. For a time I thought of returning to the red door of September, but re-reading that gave me another idea. Thank you, KL Caley at New2Writing.com for this great #writephoto picture prompt, and I hope you enjoy it. It’s 1000 words.
The brothers lived in number 4, Back of Beyond Street.
The oldest resident, Mrs March, said they’d always been there. Since she lived in the same house she was born in, and was aiming to have a centenary street party in 2028, as she reminded everybody once a year, nobody believed her.
The brothers kept themselves to themselves. Social Services had been round a couple of times, since they qualified for all sorts of grants and aid packages, including ones that weren’t available to those actually in need of them.
The lady from Social Services had tried several times to have more than a conversation through the door with them, but had finally given up. “You just can’t help some people,” she was heard muttering, as she went back to the smart new Yaris parked at the end of the street.
The neighbour at number 6 said they were generally quiet gentlemen, although they had arguments about mundane things, as far as she could tell. Which programme to watch, who had control of the remote, all the usual things.
The neighbour on the other side was absent. They let the cottage through the summer, but had stopped since Covid. Nobody had seen the owner since before lockdown. At least, Alice Laurel hadn’t, and she spoke to most of the occupants of Back of Beyond Street. Recognised as the hub of the community, Alice made it her business to know everybody, to welcome newcomers, and to generally keep people informed.
So it was quite a surprise when Alec Cheshire broke the news that the house next door to the brothers was up for sale.
It was even more of a surprise when, without so much as an estate agent survey, the house was declared Sold, and the worker who had been trying to work out where to put his ‘For Sale’ board gratefully put it back in the van.
“Not claiming it as ‘Sold’ then?” Alec queried.
“Best not. Private sale, it seems.”
On hearing this, Alice went and knocked on the brother’s door. There was some shouting, like…
“You answer it!”
“No, you answer it!”
… which went on for several exchanges before Alice called through the door in hope of ending the argument.
“Excuse me. I wondered if you knew anything about who’s bought Number 2.”
Silence echoed after her words.
A scuttling noise approached the front door. Alice took half a pace back, in case the door opened suddenly.
A voice timidly called through the door: “Er, and who are you?”
“Alice Laurel. I’m one of your neighbours in the street. I deliver the local newsletter. You can open the door if you like. I’m alone, if you’re shy.”
A scream came from the back area of the house, followed by banging that sounded like pans on a stone floor.
“NO! I WON’T!” the voice behind the door yelled, but Alice thought he was facing away from the door. Then… “Sorry, my brother doesn’t want me to open the door. We are… recluses, you see.”
“Well, you certainly are reclusive,” Alice agreed.
“Um, thank you for calling, not today, thank you.” The voice said, and the scuttling noise receded into the depths of the house.
Alice stood with her hands on her hips for a moment. Then shrugged, and turned away. She peered into number 2. Looked perfectly clean and tidy inside. Empty in fact. Net curtains at the window could do with a wash. Outside could do with a clean, and new paint on the front door, too. Maybe even a new front door.
It was an even greater surprise when the scaffolding went up across both number 2 and number 4 the next week. The scaffolders knew nothing. The wall pressure-washer knew nothing, but commented that this old sandstone had come up beautifully, and it was a good thing nobody had recommended any of these horrible stone preservation compounds. They did exactly the opposite.
Then the new doors went on, so quickly that nobody had a chance to see anything of the insides of either house. And they tried hard.
Then the paint. Sanding, undercoat and two coats of Dulux Heritage Gloss. Debate raged over whether it was Peppermint Candy or Mint Macaroon. The decorator nodded, and said sagely “half and half mix. Customers couldn’t agree on one.”
After the door furniture was installed, the houses looked beautiful. Back of Beyond Street was agog to discover who had made the two houses look like one. Twins, in fact.
Christmas came, and matching wreaths adorned the doors, and a pair of silvery deer guarded the front windows.
All was quiet inside until Boxing Day. Noises of toys being hooted, bashed and rattled echoed from the front rooms of both houses, and eventually something like a tug of war was vaguely seen through the gauzy drapes. Then the screams began.
“You broke it!!!” was the general agreement on the content of the elongated words.
The next day, the sound of battle woke everyone up. All the houses in the road shook as cannons fired. Sounds of smashed interior walls, falling masonry, tiles sliding off the roof, and yet the doors and their adornment stood serene.
Then all went quiet.
Alice stepped gingerly along the street, Alec Cheshire behind her, and most of the rest of the inhabitants behind him.
“Er, hello? Are you all right?”
“Yes,” came a voice, tired and emotional.
“We agreed to have battle. I won this time. It’ll be his turn next time.”
“Well, is there anything we can do, Mr, er…”
“Tweedle. Mr Tweedle. Both of us, we’re both Mr Tweedle. And we’re fine, thank you. Sorry to disturb you. Happy new year.”
And apart from sounds of walls being rebuild and kitchens being reinstalled, all was quiet for several more years.
“Ah,” said Mrs March, “about another twenty years and they’ll be at it again, I reckon.”
Nobody dared suggest she might not be there to see it.
© J M Pett 2022
*I was delighted with these colour options. Hopefully this link works, but if reverts to the colour-picker, check ‘teal’ for ‘front door’ and ‘gloss’ finish. They both should come up (along with about six others). Which do you think it is?