Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: NEIGHBOR (06/01/17)
- TITLE: The Knife Fight
By LeslieJean Anderson
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Funny how neighborhoods can change. When we moved into our dream house on a lake in central Texas, we were surrounded by happy families and long-term residents. Then within eighteen months, everything changed. Houses began to sell, and suddenly we were in the middle of an unstable renter neighborhood. What had happened?
For months, I’d been aware that several families were living on the property next door. Cars full of young males were going in and out of the driveway at all hours of the day and night. Some of them seemed threatening. Sometimes they wandered around aimlessly. I was often home by myself, observing this from my back yard. I no longer felt safe.
Now there had been violence. The next morning, when I saw blood on the driveway next door, I called the Sheriff’s office. I was told that there had been a knife fight. Nobody had been killed, but two people were in the hospital. One of them was a pregnant young woman who lived there and the other was an intruder with injuries. But that was all they would tell me.
A pregnant woman? Then I remembered her – young and slender. I had spoken to her tall and well-spoken young husband when they’d first moved in. I hadn’t known she was pregnant – but then again I worked during the day, so I didn’t interact much. I remembered her name was Maria. Her parents lived there too, and they didn’t speak English.
When Clark came home from work, I told him what I knew.
“These are not normal neighbors, Clark. There’s something weird going on over there. I’m sure it’s gang-related,” I said anxiously.
“So, who won the knife fight?” he inquired with a slight smile.
“Sounds like the husband did.”
“Then we need to align ourselves with the winning gang. After all, they’re our neighbors.”
My mouth dropped open. He wasn’t kidding.
“Bake your best brownies. We’re going over and show concern, right after church tomorrow.”
The next afternoon Clark rang their doorbell. I stood beside him with the brownies.
The well-spoken young husband answered, and I let my husband do the talking. I couldn’t believe we were making nice with violent criminals. But I could also see that Clark was genuinely concerned.
“Only the intruder was hurt, but the baby was born a bit premature,” the young husband was saying. “They’ll be in the hospital a couple of weeks, but they are both going to be ok.”
As I listened to their conversation, I suddenly felt ashamed. I hadn’t even stopped to think about how an incident like this could affect a young expectant mother and her newborn. I stepped forward and handed him the brownies.
“Here is some comfort food for you all. I am very glad that nobody here was hurt. Please tell Maria that I’ll be in touch when she comes home with the baby.”
He nodded, accepted the brownies and we left.
“I need to repent,” I said to Clark when we got back to the house. “You were right to think of them as neighbors first, instead of judging them like I did. We don’t even know for sure they are gang people.”
He grinned. “What would Jesus do, Honey?”
I smiled back at him. How lucky I was to have a husband so in tune with the Spirit.
True to my word, I went over with a baby present a few weeks later. I met Maria’s parents, both of whom had been hired by the local school district, and we all chatted like regular people. Their English was better than I realized. And I was happy I was no longer living in fear and anxiety and suspicion.
Clark retired a year later, and we sold the house. When we moved, they came over to bid us farewell, giving us hugs and thanking us for our earlier kindness.
Just like normal neighbors.
716 words This is a true story.
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