I walk across the street, bringing the Sangria I concocted, the vegan chocolate truffles, the banana bread I made for the first time without eggs. I have fun baking and cooking stuff that is presumed to be healthy.
I see these people often, waving to them across the road, or when I walk my dog, Luck, passing them on the sidewalk. Until this, I hadn’t been invited to their parties. One of our neighbors is moving: the family directly across from me. They’ve lived here for two years. They had their house built, ground up, like the rest of us.
I enter through the open garage, saying hi to the guy who owns that home. Then hello to the guy who lives on the other side of me— I haven’t seen him in months. He was away on assignment. Inside, I put down my food and say hello to all the people. I’m fashionably late. Another neighbor lady I know says, Pour yourself a beverage.
She lives across the street, a few lots over. She’s retired, and her husband is disabled. Sometimes I see her in the morning, walking her dog in her pajamas.
They are doctors, lawyers. Business owners. One guy’s an electrician. Some of us are teachers.
We’re in many ways alike, though maybe different by our hair and skin. By our preferences and sizes. By probably our blood types and sleep patterns and the things we like to eat and with whom we choose to partner.
This is a brand new street. A brand new neighborhood. All of us are new here.
One neighbor says to me, You’re ripped.
I say, I’m an athlete! I’m a farm girl.
I talk to the neighbor who lives on my close side. Then to my other neighbor, and another neighbor, who says, Isn’t this lovely, what we have here?
I say, How’d I get so lucky!?
Another says, Your grass is so damn green.
The builder had someone put in oak trees in the parkway last October. They looked dead. I asked the guy who planted my tree if it was alive, and whose responsibility is it?
I watered it by default. I had patches in my grass, filled them in with seed, so I went out there with my sprinkler.
I’m here with my neighbors, drinking wine and toasting.
I used to kill every plant I owned.
I tell everybody thank you.
Kim Chinquee’s new book, Snowdog, from which this work is taken is coming from Ravenna Press in January 2021. She is also the author of the collections Oh Baby, Pretty, Pistol, Veer, Shot Girls, and Wetsuit. Her work has appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies including NOON, Denver Quarterly, Conjunctions, The Nation, Ploughshares, Fiction, New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, Notre Dame Review, the Pushcart Prize anthologies, and others. She is an editor at New World Writing, associate professor and co-director of the Writing Major at SUNY-Buffalo State, and she serves as AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) Northeast Regional Chair and as a member of the AWP Board of Directors.