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Fiction

Amy heard footsteps thump up the stairs at the front entrance before the doorbell rang. Her little dog, Zippy, barked once and ran to the door, tail wagging, expectantly looking back and forth from the door to Amy.

“Coming!” She called out as she eased out of the recliner. She had been sitting for way too long and her bones creaked and ached like a woman twice her age. She was she healing from a car accident she’d been in a couple weeks ago and wasn’t moving anywhere fast these days, with her heavy casted leg and crutches.

Limping over to the door, she saw the Purolater truck drive away through the window. “Hmm,” she thought, “I don’t think I ordered anything.”

“Shoo, Zippy!” Shooing him with a crutch as she opened the door, a moderate sized box that had been leaning against it flopped down in front of her. Amy leaned over, pushed it into the house with her arm and closed the door, perplexed and reading the name on the label.

“Margaret Moore – 251 - 6th street…Ok Zippy, well that is definitely not us.” She said aloud, contemplating. “Online holiday shopping has begun, I guess.” noting the Amazon label.

It had been impossible for Amy to get out of the house since the accident. Her car had been totaled and written off when she swerved to avoid hitting a cat. Amy had rear ended someone while getting t-boned by someone else, and her car ended up sandwiched between a pole and the other vehicle, her leg painfully wedged and broken in the wreck. The insurance company had declared her 100% responsible There would be no compensation for her vehicle, not that she could drive it right now anyway, and her body was not up for any bus trips. Cabs were an added expense she did not need right now, and besides, Amy was depressed. She had stopped showering, wasn’t eating or sleeping, the pain was an ever present dull throb and she refused to take more than regular strength Tylenol, no more than three times a day.

Amy’s sister Sheila had helped her get home, brought her some meals in tupperware and had been a huge help the past few weeks.

“You smell, seriously, can I help you with a shower?” Sheila asked, concern on her face. 

“No, I’m fine.” Amy said, eyeing her sister to see if she would leave it at that. “I sponge bath, its good enough.”

Sheila had sighed, seeing that Amy was not in a mood for a lecture and knowing it wouldn’t make a difference anyway, she couldn’t force her to bath. 

Even with Sheila’s help, it had been a tough adjustment. Feeling beaten and broken, Amy was grateful it was a temporary situation she would heal from. In the meantime, skip the dishes delivering most of her meals and watching junk tv in her smelly pajamas and sleeping in her unwashed sheets had become the new normal, for now.

After having worked hard most of her life the time off was in some ways refreshing. She had never had so much respite from work and life commitments. Which meant, fortuitous as it was, that she had enough sick time saved up to sit at home and heal. Sitting in her recliner day after day was becoming easier and easier to do, and when she was bored of tv, she people watched out her front window, watching her neighbors come and go through their day.

Margaret Moore was the neighbor across the street. Amy surmised the Purolater person must be new because Marge, as the neighbors knew her, had packages delivered to her all the time. Both house numbers were partially obscured by bushes, but it was still such an odd mistake.

Marge was at work right now. She wouldn’t have seen the packaged delivered. The thought of opening the package flashed through Amy’s mind, followed quickly with guilt. She looked at the square ish box sitting on her floor in the entrance, and then hobbled on her crutches to settle back into her recliner. She un-paused her tv show and then wondered how she would let Marge know the package was here.

Amy didn’t have any of her neighbor’s phone numbers, there was never a need. Leaving the house was an overwhelming and daunting idea. First off, she couldn’t go out smelling and in dirty clothes, so she would have to wash and do laundry just to freshen up. Second, the stairs out the front door with crutches was Amy’s least favorite thing. Thirdly, how could she carry the box while on crutches?

“I could leave the package here when I walk over,” Amy thought, “but then Marge will have to come here to get it.” Looking around at the house that had been very lived in and not cleaned at all in the last few weeks, Amy immediately vetoed that idea.  “No way, Zippy, nobody is setting foot in this house the way it’s looking right now.” Zippy looked up at her from his dog pillow and gave his tail a couple of wags but did not agree or disagree. Amy sighed.

The tv in the background was not an effective distraction. The package in the entranceway was the most interesting thing that had happened since being stuck at home. A few thoughts went through Amy’s mind.

“Amazon is pretty good about sending another one if you claim you don’t receive something…” was the first thought. Then, “Marge has a lot of nice things.” and “Will she even notice that this didn’t arrive?”

Amy looked out the window, taking note of who was home and who wasn’t, who may or may not have seen this package delivered. Marge’s neighbor on the right, Bill, was always home, a retired old man who also lived in his recliner and the chances were pretty good he was sitting in it now. Bill would have either seen the Purolater truck, or he would have napped right through it. The neighbor on the left was a family who would be at work or school. The rest of the block was also a majority of families, hustling and bustling every morning, all of their cars pulling out around the same time to get the kids to school. The only other neighbor who may have seen was Doug, Amy’s neighbor on the left. He lived alone but had home support come in to help with meals once a day due to a brain injury he had suffered at a young age. Doug had been Amy’s neighbor for a long time. Amy didn’t know if he would even think twice about seeing that truck.

“Arrgh, Zippy! I’m a terrible person! What am I thinking!” She bellowed and Zippys’ head popped up, cocked to one side with ears perked.

“That’s it, I can’t take it,” she said as she pushed herself onto her good leg back out of the recliner. “I’m opening it.” and she crutched purposefully over to the package. Balancing on one foot she used one crutch to push the package closer to the dining room chair. Then Amy went to the kitchen and grabbed a knife to slice through the tape sealing the package shut.

Sitting in the chair, guilt once more engulfed her before Amy shook it off and said, “Ok Zippy, here we go.” and she ran the knife through the tape and the label that said “Margaret Moore”

Amy pulled open the flaps of the box and inside carefully sheathed in Styrofoam and plastic was a beautiful blue bird feeder.

Shame and instant realization rippled through Amy. A month before the accident, a huge storm had ripped through town, one that had all the neighbors out and talking to each other about the damage the next day. Marge and Amy had had a conversation about a beautiful blue birdfeeder hanging from Marge’s tree that had somehow survived the storm. An exquisitely delicate looking thing with fine gold filagree and stained glass windows, Marge filled it religiously and the birds seemed to love it. Amy thought it was a miracle it had survived the storm unscathed. She had told Marge how she had never seen anything like it, and Marge had commented that she ordered it from Amazon. How could Amy have forgotten that conversation! She groaned aloud and hung her head.

“What a thoughtful gesture! Marge is so nice!” she thought as the heat pulsed in her cheeks and she looked at the birdfeeder, wondering if she could put another piece of tape over the sliced one and seal it in such a way that no one could tell it had been opened. Even so, Amy would still have to let Marge know the package was here and then pretend to be surprised when it was gifted to her. Knowing she had no choice, her conscience would not allow it, Amy went to get the tape and proceeded to shower and get herself ready to go see Marge.

Three hours later, in clean clothes, clean body, with a somewhat presentable front entrance and a package from Amazon you could not tell had been opened by an almost thief, Amy put on her coat and made her way down the stairs and across the street to her neighbor’s house to leave a note that read:

“Marge, a package for you was delivered to my house. Come by any time to pick it up.

-Amy.”

then she returned home to sit in her recliner and wait for her neighbor to get home from work.

Amy imagined the conversation going something like this:

“Oh, Marge, how thoughtful! Could you hang it in my tree on your way home? Thank you so much!”

She envisioned looking at her beautiful bird feeder and maybe Sheila would pick up some bird seed for it!

The guilt she had felt earlier was gone and replaced with anticipation. Sure enough, not ten minutes later, Marge pulled into her driveway. Amy watched her get out of her car and approach the front door, pausing to read the note. She quickly swiveled around back to the tv, pretending to have not seen her pull in. Marge went into her house and closed the door.

“Dangit!” Amy thought. “Come over already!”

Another twenty minutes passed and finally Amy watched as Marge, out of her work clothes and into her comfies, came out the front door, crossed the street, and rang the doorbell. Zippy barked once, Amy called out, “Coming!” and she proceeded to crutch towards the door.

“Marge! Thanks for coming to pick this up! I would have brought it over but, you know,” she said, gesturing to the crutches and her leg.

“Of course, no problem, thank you for coming to let me know! I’m so sorry you had to walk all that way on those crutches.” Marge replied with genuine concern. “That was very kind of you.”

“No problem.” Amy said, “Here’s the package.”

“Thanks again,” Marge said as she scooped it up. “It’s for my Mother. You know, every time she comes over, she comments on the blue bird feeder I have in the yard there, you know the one. I couldn’t believe it didn’t get destroyed in that storm!” a brief flit of concern across both women’s faces as they recalled the day and shook their heads in agreement.

“Anyway, when you and I got to talking about it I thought ‘well this is a really great purchase’ and she loves mine so much I thought I’d get her one, too. I stopped and picked up the bird seed for it today. I’m so glad its finally arrived, I can fill it with seed and wrap it tonight!”

“Oh,” Amy stammered, “oh, that’s so nice. Um, that sounds like a great evening, I’m sure she’ll love it.”

“Bye for now, have a great night!”

“You, too. Bye.”

Amy closed the door and stood there for a moment, exchanging a look with Zippy.

“All that work to leave the house, and it wasn’t even for me.” She thought

Amy crutched back to her recliner, sat, and glanced over at Marge’s house. She could see the birdfeeder swaying from the tree out front. She saw Marge disappear into her house with the package, closing the door behind her and decided that she was glad she had gone to the trouble of doing the right thing and it was rotten of her to have opened the package.

As Amy un-paused her show and sank bank into her recliner, she contemplated leaving the house again tomorrow, or maybe just doing some online shopping of her own.

November 28, 2021 05:07

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2 comments

16:46 Dec 04, 2021

Very clever.

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Tricia Shulist
16:41 Dec 04, 2021

That was a great story. It’s interesting what the motivation was to get the main character moving — even if it was wrong. Thanks for this.

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