What's Your Next-Door Neighbor Story?

It gives you wings

A little over a year ago, I offered to help an elderly Indian woman in my building buy groceries. "Million thanks!" she looked up at me and said, holding my hand with both of her's. Since that day, I've brought her a gallon of whole milk and a loaf generic wheat bread every week. Sometimes she wants two boxes of strawberry Jell-o. Other times she wants three bananas. But every week, she wants me to sit with her and talk.

By now she knows when I leave for work in the morning. She knows which days I have class. She knows my boyfriend and my parents' visiting schedule as well. If I don't stop by, I hear a timid knock on my door while I'm changing clothes or brushing my teeth. She worries! She prays for me. She says "I'm so lucky you know...I wish I could do something for you! But I..." she looks down, mourning her age, "I am no help to you..." and then I feel terribly ashamed of myself for ever being irritated or burdened to help.

One day, I unlocked the heavy doors to my apartment building and shuffled to the desk to get my mail. "808," I said to the forty-something black man behind the desk. He smiled and reached for my mail. "Oh!" he said remembering suddenly, "Vilma left these for you," handing me two huge wild flowers standing proudly in a Red Bull can. The duet bouquet was probably twice the size of the can, but it worked. "Where the hell did she get Red Bull?" I laughed with him. "I couldn't tell ya..."

I stared at the awkward flowers on my kitchen table and imagined my dear fragile Vilma first drinking a Red Bull and then flying to someone's garden across town to find the biggest blossoms there were. I'm the lucky one.


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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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