My Neighbor

My Neighbor

My Neighbor 1283 1920 John Crawford

In the driveway, my neighbor smashes apart bookcases. Shelf by shelf, he brings a hammer down with a crack and pauses to check out the destruction before raising the hammer again. At his feet is a pile of splintered wood.

He catches my glance. “I need firewood,” he says. I’m not sure how to respond to that, so I nod. My neighbor and I aren’t close. Before, I probably would have fallen back on the weather for something to talk about. But no one talks about the weather much anymore.

My neighbor has one bookshelf left to dismantle. Except for the racket he makes, the world is quiet. I wouldn’t call it peaceful, just devoid. No birds are around. No people, no cars. “You must have a lot of books,” I say.

“Yeah,” my neighbor says. “I guess we’ll need to burn them, too.”

As usual, it’s cold and gray, but my neighbor is dressed in sandals and a T-shirt. He looks thinner. Stuck inside for so long, I felt compelled to venture out. But now I want to go back in, to hunker down, close my eyes, and be alone.

“Aren’t you cold?” I say.

The hammer in his hand, my neighbor doesn’t say anything. He just looks at me and grins, like he knows a secret, something that shouldn’t be uttered out loud. I back away and search for my key.

Header photograph © Zuna Amir.

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