And, To This Day, I Still Don't Know Why She Did It

Explore the excitement,humour and mysteries as a young boy goes all out in getting to know his new next door neighbour. It's time we discovered the true spirit of neighbourhood!

     I continued walking as the morning breeze swept past my face. The weather was chilly and the surroundings were peaceful and tranquil. There were a few cars cruising down the road and I knew in a few hours time this road would be congested with the daily hustle and bustle of  town. I took no notice at the high buildings staring down at me as I turned left to a deserted road. Today, I preferred to be clad in my favourite white tee and blue jeans and I was wearing a pair of sneakers. I carved a smile as I entered the cemetery holding a bouquet of flowers in both hands. I breathed in some fresh air and gazed in admiration of the  colourful flowers perfuming the air. My ears caught the sound of a flock of birds chirping their song happily and melodiously. After passing through a few rows of graves, I arrived at the sixth one and approached it silently. The grave at the end sat there still, waiting for me to approach it.

“Mrs. Fletcher, I’m here. I've even brought you a lovely present,” I said with a smile as I nonchalantly placed the flower on the grave. I did some prayers hoping Mrs. Fletcher’s soul will always rest in peace. I stared at the picture on the grave depicting her signature stern look. I reminisced how Mrs. Fletcher and I had first met.

Mrs Katherine Augustus Fletcher was a newcomer that had moved into the house next to mine replacing my old neighbour that had shifted to a new house in Sydney, Australia . My old neighbour, Mr Kingston had shifted there a few months back to stay with his sister, Pearl. The neighbourhood had had a bad impression on Mrs Fletcher ever since the first day she had settled down here with her stern and sour looks, her impertinence that had never even bothered to introduce herself or mingle with any of us and also for her strange and bizarre behaviour. She had a weird behaviour which was that she had never ever talked a single word to us since her first day shifting here. We all could have sworn that we had never even heard as much as a “hi” produced by her mouth. Some of my neighbours said she was a wicked witch and was secretly doing something nasty but I scolded them for talking cock and bull stories and for insulting such an old woman. In addition, every time the neighbourhood had a meeting or an activity, she would just go to one corner and separate herself from the others. I was quite concerned over her and I tried approaching her but she would just stare at me before walking off. One of my best friends, Mr Robertson advised me to just leave the old woman alone.

Despite her old age, she was still a robust woman. Her garden was always kept immaculate and decorated with flowers that had baffling beauty and wonderful scents. One day, as I went out of my house to visit my friend, I had a shock of my life seeing the old woman calmly rearranging the heavy flower pots all by herself. I decided to offer my assistance and hopefully get to know her better and break the ice between us. So, I gathered all my courage and approached her. 

“Umm......excuse me madam, but I was just going out when I saw you carrying those heavy flowerpots and I was wondering whether you needed any help?” I asked, carefully arranging my words making sure it sounded as friendly and polite as possible. She just shook her head sideways indicating that she did not need any help. However I was determined to give her a helping hand and that was when I realised my biggest mistake ever. Just as I laid my hands on one of her flower pots, she shouted like a mad woman.  “I SAID I DID NOT NEED ANY HELP!!!!!!”  her face turned worse than a monster as she chased me out of her house with a broomstick. It was also then that I made a remarkable discovery; I never knew I could run so fast. I was pretty shaken up by that incident and it haunted me for a few days. On that day onwards, I decided to leave her alone. I will just go on with my life and she can have hers. I went to school and cam e back home as usual, leading my life perfectly normal. I neglected and threw away all my thoughts and concern over Mrs Fletcher. Sometimes, I could hear a faint noise from her house or something falling to the ground but I just ignored it. I tried to be nice to her but she refused to accept it. However, my mindset did not last long. Her weird behaviour really intrigued me to know her more. Besides that, she was living alone and I was concerned over her safety.

One day, my curiosity had reached its limits and I was eager to approach her. So, that evening, I forked out some of my pocket money and bought some flowers at a florist just a stone throw away from my house. I thought hard about what to say to her as I approached her house Just as I was about to give a good loud knock on the door, it opened, startling me.

“What do you want?” she said in an annoyed tone. “Hi madam, I was really sorry about that day and I wanted to apologize. This is a sign of my sincerity,” I said handing over the bouquet of flowers. “I don’t need these. Just go away!” she said in a loud voice. I left remembering the consequences if I disobeyed her instructions. Looks like I  had to find another way to get along with her. I just could not tolerate not having any interaction or communication with my neighbours. All I wanted was neighbours I could get along with. I returned home and watched television, feeling disappointed and sad.

A few weeks have past and conditions between Mrs Fletcher and I were still the same. I spotted her once in a while doing some gardening or having a stroll around the neighbourhood with that stern, serious face but I did not bother her, of fear that she would show me the wrath of her mighty broomstick. One day, I heard a noise and some conversations coming from Mrs Fletcher’s house. I went to take a look and I saw a man in his 30’s talking with Mrs Fletcher. I embraced myself to hear Mrs Fletcher shout at him or chase him away with her broomstick but she surprisingly invited him in. I was adamant on asking him how he had performed such a miracle as he was leaving.

“Excuse me sir, may I know who you are? I am Mrs Fletcher’s neighbour and saw everything that happened just now. I am quite surprised because you are the first person ever to talk with Mrs Fletcher in this neighbourhood. ” I asked in a friendly manner. He smiled. “Is it unusual for a man to visit and talk with his mother? “He asked me back. He then held out his hand. “I am Morgan Fletcher. Nice meeting you.” Mrs Fletcher had a son? I froze in shock for a while before grabbing his hand in a handshake. 

I welcomed him to my house. I made him a cup of coffee and we had a long nice chat. I asked him why Mrs Fletcher was always so serious and didn't like to mingle with other people. I also asked why she didn't even welcome him to her house. It was only then that I discovered her surprising past.

Mrs Fletcher used to be a very happy woman. She lived together with her husband and two children Morgan and Angeline. They lived happily and prosperously in a nice cosy house facing the sea. Every morning, they would enjoy the stunning view of the sunrise and hear the chirping of the birds beside the soft lapping of the waves. Mrs Fletcher had green hands and loved gardening. Her garden was the pride and honour of the house. Everything seemed perfect until one uneventful day. As Mr and Mrs Fletcher were happily having a stroll around the neighbourhood, the neighbourhood boys, notorious of their mischief came riding their bicycles. One of them was riding too quickly and lost control of his bike. He accidentally knocked down Mr Fletcher and he fell inside the drain. Mr Fletcher’s head accidentally slammed into the ground and got into a coma. Until today, Mrs Fletcher could not forget that incident and neglected herself from the society. She especially hated children from that day on.

Now that I knew her secret, I was determined on persuading Mrs Fletcher and making her realise that not every child was bad. The next day, I embarked on a mission. I approached her house around evening. As I was about to knock on the door, I heard a loud ear piercing yell coming from inside the house. Without any hesitations, I darted into the house to find Mrs Fletcher sprawled on the floor screaming with agony. What really happened was, Mrs Fletcher was thirsty and wanted to take a glass of water and had accidentally dropped it on the floor. As she was about to clear up the mess, she had accidentally slipped on the slippery floor and some of the glass had injured her legs. I quickly searched for a first aid kit. Fortunately, I had paid attention every time my teachers had taught us about first aid. I aided Mrs Fletcher’s wounded leg according to the instructions my teacher had given, well, the instructions that I remembered him teaching. Shush, don't tell Mrs Fletcher! I also found a broom and swept the glass before mopping the wet floor. Since the day was starting to darken, I decided to cook something. After raiding Mrs Fletcher’s food supplies, I decided to cook fried rice since it was one of the dishes I had learned to cook first from my mum. I used the kitchen as if it were my own and finally succeeded to produce a simple dish of fried rice. I steered a limping Mrs Fletcher to the dining table and we ate. I noticed she was quite ravenous by the way she was eating her food. I also noticed that she was being very quiet ever since I got here. After doing the washing, I intended to leave but Mrs Fletcher stopped me.

“Boy, thank you for your help “she said. “ Mrs Fletcher, all I want to say is not all children are bad. I know what happened to your husband. It was an accident and you can't make presumptions just by one accident. I am very sorry about what happened to Mr Fletcher and I hope he gets well soon” I said. I was quite scared that she might start yelling at me or do something that will hurt me for being so nosy over her family affairs but she sat quite surprisingly still. She finally muttered another “thank you” and I left the house feeling ecstatic and jubilant over my first peaceful interaction with Mrs Fletcher. I ran back joyfully home, just to bump into a very angry mama and papa who had waited for me to come home.

After sometime, things continued as usual. Mrs Fletcher treated the event as if it had never happened. She continued with her stern looks and isolated herself from the neighbourhood. I was a bit disappointed because I had hoped she would be nicer and friendlier after the incident but my dreams were as if I was just building sandcastles in the air. However, all my assumptions changed immediately after one fateful event. 

That Sunday, I had slept early because there was school the following day. I was sleeping soundly when an awkward and suffocating odour reached my nose. I woke up immediately to find my house on fire. The hall and kitchen were ablaze. I tried to quench the fire with water from the bathroom but the fire was too big. In a matter of seconds, I was trapped at a corner of my bedroom. My only hope was the window but I knew that it was too high for me to jump and the consequences would be severe. I screamed loudly afraid of the fate awaiting me. Just as I thought all hope was lost, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel when I heard a tap at the window. I was startled to find Mrs Fletcher at the window climbing on a ladder. I immediately climbed out of the window and both of us climbed down the stairs.  Earlier, my parents had managed to save themselves at the nick of the time but unfortunately fell unconscious of the toxic smoke and were being treated by other neighbours. Mrs Fletcher and I stood and stared hopelessly as fire engulfed the house. Fire fighters dashed to the scene a short while later and my parents and I were treated by some paramedics. 

. From that day onwards, we became the best of friends. Our family shifted to a new house just around the corner from our old house and Mrs Fletcher and I would chat at her astonishing garden every time we had a chance. However all these events that I would never forget and treasure deep down in my heart had happened almost twenty years ago. Mrs Fletcher had passed away peacefully and I will visit her grave every once in a month to clean her grave, pray for her and reminisce all our wonderful past that I cherish till today. I am really thankful towards Mrs Fletcher for what she did.  However, I am still curious curious whether it was the kindness of her heart, or that I had made her realise that all children were not bad but I was wondering, despite her hatred towards children and although she was reaching her old age, she persisted in saving me even though there were other neighbours there and, to this day, I still don't know why she did it.

The End

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