by Henna Zaidi
A busy street intersects a small neighborhood. A small blue rectangular sign reads Chaco Road. Walking down the narrow road towards my house, I glimpse the different colors of the leaves; yellow, red and orange leaves fall from their stems and hit the concrete sidewalk. Different colors of petunias emerge from the ground. Red, pink and white rose petals fall on the faded grass that was once green.
When I finally reach my house, instead of walking on our newly paved driveway, I walk toward the back gate. Glancing at the sky, I notice big puffs of white clouds moving at a fast pace, each one passing by quickly, leaving no trace behind. The buzzing of flies draws my attention towards the rotten apples that loosely cling to their stems or lay on the ground restless. These dying apples and passing clouds reminds me of my neighbor who had lived right next door to me. I remember her looking out of her window at me and my sisters while we played anxiously on our swing set. I remember her eyes glancing, from time to time, at our apple tree.
I carried a straw basket to my apple tree; snatching a couple of ripe and juicy apples from their stems, I added them to my basket. The basket got pretty heavy to carry with one hand, so I began dragging it. I occasionally glanced back into the basket to make sure all the apples were safe and clean. A sudden figure caught my eye, an old woman glaring out of her window; she looked like a statue in the middle of someone’s living room. Her hair was the first thing that I noticed, so white like a great big puff of cloud. Her skin hung off of her face, the color as pale as it could get. I smiled at her and my hand rose up to say a friendly hello. She smiled back, she gestured for me to come to her door step. I dragged the basket behind me, reluctantly stood in front of her door, and lifted my hand to ring the bell. Her door opened abruptly with a jolt. An odor of old spices and dust arose from her house. I walked in feeling scared and nervous. I had never been into her house alone before.
The only light visible was the light entering through her window. I handed her my basket of apples since that seemed the only thing to do. She pointed towards her kitchen and asked me to place them on the counter. For the first time, I noticed her using a walker to help her walk across her house. I gradually went over to the kitchen, hoping not to trip and fall over all the newspapers which were laid on the carpet. She asked me how I was doing, what school I was going to, and all the typical questions adults like to ask. I answered all of them trying to get out of the house as quickly as I could. I walked over to the door, but as my fingers touched the cold silver knob of the front door, she called my name. Dragging her walker in front of her she told me she had a surprise for me. She held my face in her wrinkled fingers; I could feel her breathing through her nostrils. Her blue veins popped out of her arm as she leaned in closer. I felt her purple lips gently kiss me on my cheek. She smiled, thanked me, and handed me a piece of chocolate. Walking out her door, I cleaned my cheek off disgusted yet feeling a great deal of sympathy for her.
Walking back from school a week later, I noticed two U-HAUL trucks parked in my old neighbor’s driveway. Two women I had never seen before were loading things into the two trucks. My dad was waiting at the front door for me. He sat me down on our off- white sofa and explained that our next door neighbor had died. He explained how the two women were our neighbor’s daughters and they came to gather all her belongings. I noticed his watery eyes staring into mine. Unable to think, I walked towards the window and looked at her house and at the window she always seemed to be staring through.