We had always stayed rooted in our home town. My wife and I did not rely upon recycled dreams of travelling the world in order to justify our existence. We enjoyed how our trees arched beyond the hills and how our neighbours never changed and how we always knew exactly what to expect. When there is no future there is no time and nothing to pass you by.
It was autumn when the Merriweathers moved in to the cottage next door. Those walls had been empty for a long while and I greatly enjoyed the company of no-one. I had little care of my own to meet them, though my wife was persistent that we should make a good first impression. That was another flaw with women; they required, almost insatiably, to be liked. When the moving vans and cardboard boxes diluted, we laundered the third best bottle of wine from our pantry and cheerfully arrived at our new neighbour’s new house. As the door opened, so did Mr. Merriweather’s stonking eyes as he observed the beauty of my wife. He was perplexed at our apparent offering of free booze until we unveiled the nature of our arrival. Our adjacent living situation was apparently a cause for celebration. He welcomed us in and we sat a few hours and drank from bubble-wrapped glasses. Of course he was a promising doctor of some sort; his wife was three kids down but not looking too bad on it. Luckily James, Lucy and Michael were spending that afternoon elsewhere but I did not doubt that I would soon be hearing their acquaintance from our unnervingly close radius. My wife could not bear children, but not in the same way that I couldn’t. Hence, my last name has remained, and will remain, my own.
I did not like Martin Merriweather. Nobody, especially that soon after moving into a new house, could present such a fine tray of cakes in the face of unexpected guests. If you have Mr. Kipling on standby, it can only be concluded that you think too highly of yourself or too low and Martin did not have the physique of a man who found comfort in confectioneries.