The Daily Prompt: Mal Vecino!

Autumn Sunset 05She was something of a character, the kind of once-beautiful woman you see in those pension or retirement home adverts, rose basket over the arm, all cashmere, chiffon and soft focus.  In her seventies she was still quite attractive in a very actressy sort of way, and wafted about impressively with trailing scarves and wide-brimmed straw hats, making dramatic gestures. 

And she had, for the past three months, been avoiding acknowledging the fact that we’d moved in next door to her.  Their villa was slightly further up the hill, and their naya, or terrace as we’d call it, overlooked the side of our garden.  It was impossible for her not to notice me pegging out my washing as she floated elegantly down the steps from their naya, and it was inconceivable that she couldn’t see me when we were both getting into our cars at the same time on the street outside. 

 She, and her husband, were past-masters at glancing away at the precise moment I smiled, nodded, or waved a hand.  So I gave in and accepted the fact, we were not going to be good neighbours.  This was unusual, as I knew they were English and the English in Spain generally make a point of getting to know each other.   Still, if it wasn’t to be, there was an end to it.

 A few months later, whilst back in England, we learned (not from our neighbours) that we’d been burgled, and hurried back to Spain.  Our loss was not great, electrical goods, still-labelled clothes, unopened perfumes still in their packaging, computer screens – just the kind of stuff you see at the rastro or street market every Sunday.

Armed with a dictionary off we went to report the burglary at the police station.  Having stumbled through a dialogue in Spanish with a senior police officer (who it later transpired spoke perfect English but chose not to), we were coming to the end of our list of stolen items.

Looking up, I saw our neighbour floating gracefully by the doorway.  The police officer smiled, and in she wafted to interrupt the proceedings, giving us no more than a fleeting glance.  Obviously well known to him, she conversed rapidly in Spanish with him, flirting, flattering and giggling like a schoolgirl.

To this day I’m still not sure whether she recognised us but for some reason, she suddenly decided to acknowledge us, indicating the item she had placed on the floor behind her and saying in English “I’d rather hoped they wouldn’t recover this old thing, I was so looking forward to getting a new one from the insurers.”

I peered round her.  It was a sewing machine in its cover, a similar make to the one we’d had stolen, though the cover was more soiled than I remembered.   (This later turned out to be fingerprint powder.)   How weird, I thought, that she should have had a sewing machine stolen – these items must be highly sought after here in Spain.

 Naïve or what???

Off she drifted, and the police office, looking a little uncomfortable explained, in English this time, that several stolen cars had been recovered the previous night and a significant number of items had been found in them.  I realised then that our neighbour must have also been burgled too and had come to reclaim her goods.

“Follow me, and see if you can identify any of your stolen items.”

So we did, and we recovered just about everything that couldn’t fit in the thieves’ pockets.  Everything except the sewing machine that is.

I turned to the police officer.  “Is there any chance that was our sewing machine that lady was carrying?” I asked.

He turned an uncomfortable shade of red.  “No,” he said, “a different make.”

“Was her villa burgled last night?” I asked.

“No, several weeks ago.”

If we’d arrived at the police station a few minutes earlier, I would have been reunited with my brand new sewing machine, but clearly having found the haul, the police had then contacted all those who’d reported losses of similar items in recent weeks to ask them to identify them.

She got there first, before we had a chance to report our loss.  And she’d lied.   He knew it, and I knew it.

And as I watched her on her naya later that day, showing off what I’m pretty sure was my brand new sewing machine to her family and friends whilst laughing gaily like some Broadway ingenue, I wondered whether I should pop round with the instruction booklet and the box of accessories that the thieves had missed, just to make her devious deception truly worthwhile.

I didn’t of course.

Nor did I ever once look in her direction again, either in her garden, on the street, or in the supermarket.

She was clearly not someone I wanted to know.

Today’s Daily Prompt was ‘Good Fences’.  For other interpretations click on the following links:  

  1. Lonely Park | muffinscout
  2. Axe-wielding landlady: a true story! Daily Prompt | alienorajt
  3. JFK Ultra Walk | Exploratorius
  4. Mr Fall | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  5. Paradox | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  6. A bird and the boat | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  7. Daily Prompt: Good Fences? | DCMontreal: Blowing the Whistle on Society
  8. Neighbours | Sue’s Trifles
  9. Yeah, I’m in the habit of phoning weirdo’s and hanging out. | thoughtsofrkh
  10. Next Door | Melibelle in Tokyo
  11. Revenge of the Duck | The Jittery Goat
  12. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening | Ps and Qs: Photography, Poetry and Quiet
  13. Unseen and Unknown | Finale to an Entrance
  14. adversity | yi-ching lin photography
  15. DP Daily Prompt: Good fences? | Sabethville
  16. Two Hours | Lifeinpawprints’s Weblog
  17. Daily Prompt: Good Fences? « Mama Bear Musings
  18. Fences, Boundaries, and Relationships Prayers and Promises
  19. Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie & Neighbors | LenzExperiments
  20. There’s a space-ship in my neighbor’s garage | A mom’s blog
  21. Neighbourhood. | The Word Trance
  22. Good Neighbors, Bad Neighbors « One Crazy Mom
  23. second home first | peacefulblessedstar



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23 Responses to The Daily Prompt: Mal Vecino!

  1. Pingback: There’s a space-ship in my neighbor’s garage | A mom's blog

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  7. litadoolan says:

    Love the emotional darkness of this piece. Left me wanting to know more about how things pan out. Great!

    • benitachell says:

      It’s a while ago now, and we’ve since left Spain. But they moved long before that and we had some lovely neighbours in their place, people we still meet up with when we return from time to time. Thanks for dropping by.

  8. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Good Fences? | imagination

  9. Pingback: Axe-wielding landlady: a true story! Daily Prompt | alienorajt

  10. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Good Fences? | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice

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  12. you are a MUCH better person than me…I would have…well..LOL never mind but let’s just say she wouldn’t have my sewing machine anymore

  13. Johanna says:

    What a sad story, but so well told. I love have you draw the reader in and then keep them hooked until the final line. Great storytelling, but sad that it happened.

  14. Pingback: of good neighbors | Anawnimiss

  15. litadoolan says:

    I am enjoying your blog so much! Please accept the Sunshine award to recognise great work that is full of life

    All my good regards


    • benitachell says:

      That’s really very kind of you and I’m honoured. I don’t ‘do’ awards, as my internet connection is limited most of the time and I find the process takes a lot of time. Nevertheless, I’m very grateful that you thought of me, and that you are enjoying this blog. Have a lovely Valentine’s Day. 🙂

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