“Hi, I’m Candy.” She offers her hand, ducking an olive branch on Abbott’s front lawn.

Abbott swats invisible flies, ignoring her spindly craw. “No need to make a statement.”

She explains it’s her name, then the newly acquainted next-door neighbours exchange pleasantries, moving quickly to gardening chatter. Candy confesses her allergy to scented plants and within minutes she’s laying down garden rules claiming her length of tenure next-door as an equitable right. Abbott’s jaw clenches as he rejects suggestions of how he should keep his garden, fragrant flowers, or otherwise. And, anything of a disagreeable nature would be reported to the Department of Housing. Candy retreats with a pinched expression.

Abbott smiles inwardly and considers future evasive actions to counteract further impromptu discourse. He ponders her confession of allergic reactions to scented flowers, weighing it against the likelihood they’d never get along. Early the next morning, he plants Camellia (scentuous) along the fence line, whilst praying for her.

By the following autumn, the elderly neighbours have not only resolved their issues but are as good as married, minus the marriage ceremony. Candy visits every morning to make Abbott tea. A few weeks bliss deteriorate into hatred and arguments.

Abbott starts calling her a chameleon under his breath. He looks up the word ‘chameleon’ in the dictionary – a small, slow-moving Old-World lizard. Yes, that she is devoid of a prehensile tail is redeeming, however, she does have a long extensible tongue, and her protruding eyes rotate independently. Also, she has a highly developed ability to change colour, especially when she doesn’t get what she wants.

Abbott congratulates himself for his heaven-sent insight into nomenclature. Then, he recalls God’s second commandment before reassuring himself that the word ‘neighbour’ in the phrase ‘love thy neighbour’ is a figurative expression.

He pours himself a cup of tea. After a few sips, his face grows red then, purple. His heart enlarges in response to septic shock. Frothy saliva covers his lips and his eyes bulge before his body goes limp.

Candy digs a pit in Abbot’s backyard – next to the previous tenants.

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Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
20 days ago

Camellias – Chameleons. I love the play on words, Andrew. An elderly “neighbour” with the name of Candy is also a nice touch. Plenty of dark humour here!

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
19 days ago

Hi Andrew, forgive me for laughing at the end. Poor man, I didn’t see that coming. I liked the way you balanced the oddness in each character. I really enjoyed this story.

Last edited 19 days ago by Eric Radcliffe
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