CONTESTS

Peace Time

JULIA VELLA

Second prize winner of the 6th Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest.

I liked my new neighbour well enough. We traded niceties over the garden fence. After three months we exchanged house keys. Then she bought a dog. A terrier. It needed a firm hand. Instead she called it Philippe, fed it organic dog biscotti and had its horoscope read. Philippe did not improve the neighbourhood. He ran from yard to yard like a hirsute garden gnome gone rogue, digging holes, chasing cats and barking at potted plants.

For the sake of peace I bit my lip.

Philippe upped the ante and pooped on my welcome mat. I bagged the turd and gave it to her. Next morning I found my keys slipped through my mail slot. Later she set her sprinkler on high and aimed it over the fence onto my hammock.

That summer they both ran wild. Philippe dug new and deeper holes. She cranked the volume on her radio, set it to CFOX and pushed it up against my cedar hedge. He rolled in her compost, squeezed through the hedge and raced round my house shedding noisome bits of rotting veg. She threw used tea bags onto my patio.

One afternoon I peeked out and saw a moving van in front of her house. Soon I had new neighbours, a nice couple with a well-trained Lab named Bob who never barked.

Two weeks passed quietly. I slouched in my hammock engulfed in ennui, eyeing Bob through a gap in the hedge. He lay stretched and still like a yellow bearskin rug. I slipped out of my hammock, edged close to the gap.

“Miaow,” I said. “Miaow.” Bob leapt up, barking.

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JULIA VELLA

Julia Vella's stories have appeared in Geist and several other publications. She lives in North Vancouver.


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