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“Right Becky, you are going to get on with that Maths homework for an hour or two and I am going to do the garden then we can make a start on dinner”. Kathy shouted to her daughter while putting on her gardening shoes. “Aww mum, you know I hate maths, I am so useless at it” Becky moaned. “All the more reason for you to practice then, see you in a bit”. Kathy encouraged.

Kathy opened the door to her garden and instantly felt the warmth of the mid afternoon sun on her skin. She stepped outside and breathed deeply, the fresh fragrant air filling her lungs. She loved her garden but working full time with two teenage children she didn’t have much time to enjoy it. She surveyed her small patch of heaven, the flowerbeds needed weeding, the lawn needed trimming and the patio slabs needed cleaning but it was still her little sanctuary. She walked towards the wooden fence that separated her garden from her neighbours.

Her neighbour Silvia and her husband Albert always kept their garden immaculately, along with their house and their children Kathy though bitterly. As if reading her mind Silvia`s head popped up over the fence, “Hello Kathy, how are you doing?” She didn’t pause to allow her to answer but was casting her eyes disapprovingly over the garden. “Oh” she tutted “You’ve got a lot of work to do haven’t you?” Kathy dropped her head feeling ashamed; Silvia always made her feel inadequate. “Yes, but it’s a lovely day so I will enjoy it”. Kathy tried to sound cheerful and stop Silvia carrying on any further, she bend down and pulled up the first tough stringy weed. Hopefully Silvia would leave her alone now, but no such luck. “How`s Rebecca doing with her revision? Won’t be long until their exams.” Again Silvia didn’t give her time to answer, “You know my Henry is the best in his year group, he is a straight A student, he is going to study medicine, have his pick of universities.”

“That’s lovely” Kathy replied out of politeness desperate to continue weeding in peace.

“Your Rebecca still struggling? Henry tells me she`s not in the top classes, finds the work difficult”. Kathy was longing to shout “You and your perfect Henry should mind your own business, Becky is trying her best and we can’t all be geniuses” but instead she calmly forced a smile “Becky’s doing okay, she might not be the brightest in the class but she has other talents.” Kathy rubbed her hands together in the universal sign for this conversation is over, Silvia however, didn’t seem to be able to or want to read the sign and continued in her haughty manner

“What are those talents then? I thought she gave up piano when she started high school and she s quit ballet now as well hasn’t she?” The cheek of that woman Kathy thought trying to stay calm and not get into an argument over the fence.

“Well I must get on now” Kathy turned her back and screwed up her face and scowled now that Silvia couldn’t see her. Unfortunately Silvia always had to have the last word.

“Yes, you have got rather a lot to do” she snidely added.


The irritation from the conversation pricked Kathy and made her work twice as hard and the garden was looking a lot better even if she did say so herself. She stepped back to admire her handiwork.

“Mum?” Becky`s shout interrupted her thoughts

“What love?” Kathy turned to face her daughter framed in the doorway, the sunlight was reflecting off her hair looking like a shining halo. Kathy smiled Becky might not be the brightest person in the year group but she was beautiful and the most precious thing in Kathy’s life”.

“I can’t do maths” Becky shouted and with a flourish she tossed the textbook on the floor.


“Hi Becky” Kathy looked at the neighbours fence with disdain as she saw Henry's face pop up from the other side, he was running his hands through his floppy fringe “Do you need any help with your maths?” Becky pulled a face “Naw, you’re alright Henry, I am a lost cause. I am giving up”.

“Let me help you, give me an hour, if you don’t feel like you have improved you can sack me.” Henry tried to make Becky laugh in the hope of persuading her.

“Ok you have got one hour to transform me but I don’t like your chances” Becky relented.

“Give me ten minutes to get my books and I will meet you around the front”.  Perfect Henry disappeared into his perfect house.


Kathy finished in the garden pleased with all her hard work and went indoors to put the dinner on. She couldn’t hear any frustrated screaming from Becky so she presumed it must have been going well. Something else for Silvia to gloat over.


“Bye Kathy, Bye Becky, see you tomorrow” Henry and his three text books were on their way out.

“Tomorrow? “ Kathy mouthed at Becky “You want Perfect Henry over again tomorrow?” Kathy asked shocked.

“Aww mum, don’t call him that he is actually quiet sweet when you get to know him”. Becky laughed. “Not like his mum then.” Kathy muttered under her breath.


The next day Kathy poured herself a long, cool refreshing glass of lemonade with a slice of lime and decided to sit in the garden for half an hour and enjoy it. She sat back on the patio chair with her eyes closed enjoying the warmth of the sun.

“Hi Kathy, I see my Henry has a new pupil” Silvia’s unmistakable tones shatter the quiet peace

“My Henry is a maths wiz, he will soon have your Rebecca up to speed so don’t you worry”.

Kathy’s heart sank; she just wanted a bit a quiet time in her own garden was that too much to ask. She attempted to nod politely in the right places as she listened to yet another half an hour of Silvia’s bragging. Drink ruined. Kathy eventually got a word in and made her excuses to get back inside her house.


“Mum, I’ve got something to tell you” Becky’s voice was hesitant “I know you are not keen on Henry but he` s told me he has been besotted with me for years and he asked me to go on a date with him.” Kathy smiled a huge smile as she mentally played the next conversation with Silvia over the fence, “Yes Silvia, apparently your Henry has been BESOTTED with my Becky for years”.


April 21, 2020 12:10

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1 comment

Julian Race
05:35 Apr 30, 2020

Nice story Marsha and so very true! There are people like Sylvia in every street. Julian

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