That Woman Next Door

I thought she was a danger to my family . . . how could I love her?
That Woman Next Door

"Not her again," I sighed, quickly stepping from our window. I was alone in the suburban home into which we'd just moved, and our next-door neighbor, Nora, was traipsing up our driveway, her long black coat flailing wildly in the blustery wind. Tentacles of black hair flew loosely from the unbelievably high arrangement coiled on her head. She resembled a menacing sea creature on the attack.

When the doorbell rang, I couldn't think of a good reason to answer the door. I didn't want to give this woman another chance to cause trouble.

My heart thumped as I suddenly heard the outside screen door slowly creak open. Fear flashed through my limbs as I detected a rustling sound, followed by a tiny clink. Nora was messing with my doorknob!

I wondered if I should call the police. But then the screen door creaked shut, and my neighbor retreated down the driveway. I waited a bit, then cautiously opened the door to discover a white plastic bag looped over the handle. Inside was a bag of multicolored taffy and an index card. Scrawled in thin, pointy letters were the words "Happy Halloween."

Probably poisoned, I thought wryly, then tossed the candy onto my closet shelf in case I ever needed evidence. I was convinced my new neighbor lady was a threat to my family.

We'd lived in the Chicago area for only two weeks, and already we pined for our peaceful little Indiana town. When my husband and I had debated this move, we'd considered the host of big-city threats: crime, outrageous traffic, lunatic neighbors. We didn't have to deal with those things in rural Indiana, unless we counted Uncle Morris (no relation), who often drove his riding mower to the Handy Andy and who was once accused of pilfering a pumpkin.

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