What's Your Next-Door Neighbor Story?

Waiting for the Floodwaters

Growing up in Southern California, I spent every free minute at Marcia's house. She was my next door neighbor and my closest friend. Marcia was ten, and I was nine. Her mother worked at a nearby hospital while her stepfather stayed home and painted in his studio. His paintings were either blurry landscapes or naked women.

Southern California is a desert: the river and creek beds are normally stone dry. The creek bed by our homes was filled with rocks and lined with high cement walls. There was no bridge, so one part of it was paved for cars to cross. Sometimes I wondered what it would be like to be trapped on the bottom as flood waters came towards me.

One unusually wet winter brought weeks of torrential rains. The creek bed had become a muddy, raging river. We walked down the road and watched in awe as the waters rushed by.

Our parents told us that the dam upstream might burst and that our homes could get flooded. Marcia decided to put all of her belongings on her bed so that if the flood waters came, she could float away. I decided to help her, so we spent the entire morning putting everything she owned, clothes, stuffed animals, and toys, on her bed. We made up stories about where the bed might go.

My house was on slightly higher ground than Marcia's, so I figured everything in it was safe. Besides, my mother would probably put our stuff on high shelves, and I knew it would be more fun with Marcia than by myself on my own bed.

No one knew what time the dam might burst. We pretended that the flood would be like the tornado in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy saw all sorts of interesting things fly by her window. We figured that instead of winds, we would see rushing floodwaters.

It never dawned on us that Marcia's bed would never fit through the doorway into the narrow hallway.

Her stepfather was busy putting all of his paintings on high shelves.

We ate lunch on her bed. Then we pulled the covers over our heads and told spooky stories. Her electric hair curler warmer served as a campfire. We waited and waited, but fortunately the dam held and the floodwaters never came.


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Have a Next-Door Neighbor Story?

As part of our new webcomic, Next-Door Neighbor, we thought it appropriate to have a little contest. Tell us your best true next-door neighbor story, and the winning tale will be matched with an artist and transformed into a webcomic and included as the final installment of Next-Door Neighbor.

About Next-Door Neighbor

No matter how close or how far, we all live next to someone, and we all have a Next-Door Neighbor story. With that in mind, editor Dean Haspiel asked some of his favorite storytellers and cartoonists to create their favorite NDN stories so we could share them with you.

The Fine Print & Contest Rules

By submitting an entry, you are granting SMITH the right to reprint or republish that entry online or in print, as well as make any necessary edits. See SMITH's terms of service for complete details.

This contest ends September 1, 2008. Prizes are not redeemable for cash and must be accepted as awarded. Winners are decided at the discretion of SMITH judges and all decisions are final. SMITH reserves the right to change the contest rules. Enter as often as you want. SMITH reserves the right to reprint or republish all entries.

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