My boots pursue a circle of torchlight,
toes catching its edge with each step.
Headlights come into view,
I wave and step to the side,
then am startled by the uniform –
but I remember:
She is my neighbour.
She is my friend.
I hand over my bag,
and she grins at the meat and rice.
In return I get flour,
on its third exchange.
Trudging back up the hill
a rifle shot pierces the silence –
but it quickens my pulse,
and the wind stirring the leaves
echoes my rasping breath.
Turning in through the gate
I see, with relief,
flickering between the trees,
the welcoming lights of home.
This is in response to Eugie’s weekly prompt: “Neighbours”
…although I’m cheating because I actually wrote this a few months ago, when idiotic panic buying in response to COVID-19 had emptied supermarket shelves and suddenly a whole lot of basics were scarce. My neighbour and I have always shared vegetables, preserves, baking, gin (okay, we don’t actually share gin, I just drink hers). But walking the km down the dirt road to meet her on her way home one night with a bag of toilet paper, meat and rice was pretty surreal. Especially with the odd rifle shot of some red-neck ‘roo shooters for a soundtrack. It was a good swap for a 20kg bag of flour though – much needed by those of us who were baking before COVID (just sayin’). <mutter mutter> (bloody sour dough dilettantes…)