Banks of scarlet azaleas and cerise rhododendrons mark the driveway to the double garage of No. 7 Maple Way. Mr. Powers nurtured the shrubs from cuttings and is proud of the privacy his colourful hedges provide for his double-fronted detached residence.
Next door at No. 5, single-garage Mrs. Johnson thinks her hybrid fuchsia and cotoneaster are far superior to her neighbour’s efforts in terms of display and colour. She covets her secret source of quality fertilizer which she refuses to share with No. 7 in case his display should surpass hers in terms of admirability as people pass.
No. 3’s triple-garage, vintage car owner, Mr. Bailey doesn’t like flowers but has a lawn fit for a Queen. Mrs. Johnson watches him vacuuming the leaves, almost reverently, each Saturday morning. She secretly envies his gleaming edge-cutters – a thing of shining beauty, glimmering in the summer sun as he creates the perfect right angle to his precious carpet where it meets the driveway leading to the polished doors containing his venerable collection.
No. 1’s granny-flat-instead-of-a-garage Mrs. Jameson is a container gardener, with terracotta pots full of brightly coloured bedding plants spilling over onto lustrous grey pebbles and glorious hanging baskets adorning the fascia board. Young widow Mrs. J and her elderly mother tend the baskets and pots in a prayer-like fashion.
Maple House sits at the end of the road. The house doesn’t have a number because it used to be the only house in the area before the wealthy owners died leaving it to a good-for-nothing son who wasted his inheritance. The estate ended up being sold to a hungry developer who converted the sweeping driveway to a wide two-lane road, split the estate into lots and sold them off to the Powers, Johnsons, Baileys, Jamesons and their like.
The competitive street befits the Jones family who’ve recently taken possession of Maple House. A sweeping renovation has commenced. The neighbours will spend the next year striving to keep up.
The Neighbourhood Watch man patrols.
A heavy snowfall blankets the estate in anonymity.
Every house now looks the same.
Alva Holland is an Irish writer from Dublin. First published by Ireland’s Own Winning Writers Annual 2015. Three times a winner of Ad Hoc Fiction’s flash competition, her stories feature in The People’s Friend, Ellipsis Zine, Train Lit Mag, Stories for Homes, Brilliant Flash Fiction, The Cabinet of Heed and Jellyfish Review.