Warning Signs

An old garage starts a war between neighbors, who both, in truth, want the same thing.


There was new family in town. They moved next to a family that had lived in the small town for nearly four generations. In different places, but with relatives everywhere, they were known for their patience and loving attitude. Most of them had already moved on to new houses, except the daughter of the last generation, who still looked after the family home, as old as it was.

And the house was old. It was built in early 40s together with a garage for a car that hadn’t been there since 1950s. The time had did its part and tearing down the roof was in the waiting list of jobs. The beams had turned in paper, sounding hollow when knocked.The house was indeed old and all she had to do now is buy someone, who was willing to break it down. But first, she needed a new place of her own and until she got that, she was not moving out.

At first site a lovely couple with four kids. That’s how they seemed, when the meddling in the neighboring house started. It made a nice change in her daily routine.

Suddenly there was a knock on the front door and a young dark haired woman was standing outside. With a kind smile she explained she had noticed the old garage reaching the edge of their yard and asked if it was possible to put a sign up or something so the kids don’t climb on it.

Odd request, but she agreed. After all – it was her responsibility to make sure people were aware of the danger, right? That’s how the law dictated.

On the next morning the sign was up and half an hour later she saw the first pair of boys up on the roof. It was only by chance she noticed the pair from her window, when taking the laundry from the washing room to the bedrooms. The fresh linen fell on the floor and she ran to get the boys off. While she was still yelling them to come off this instant, the father saw her and started yelling at her for wrangling his boys. It didn’t seem to matter that the boys were on the foreign territory. She lost the argument, but the boys left.

The next day, the boys were back and despite their father’s opinion, she decided their mother’s mattered more, especially that she agreed with her. The same thing happened. That was only a start. In matter of a week she had to deal with it every day until she was worn out by their actions. But she couldn’t let them continue. She had to get them off or she’d be in fault of having such dangerous object up in the first place. This wasn’t the first time the local officials used the excuse to get money and she wasn’t about to give them that pleasure.

Exactly a week after the dispute began, she saw the boys again from her backside window heading for the ladder against the wall and turned on her heel and went straight at them before they even got to the roof. The moment she shouted at them, the boys were gone and she started through the garage, eyeing the beams with worry. It wouldn’t be much longer before they fell in with such wear, when suddenly she heard far heavier footsteps on the roof. More than one.

She knew exactly, who it was. One quick glance from the door and she could see the red beard together with two other guys walking on the edge with beers in their hands.

Not this time. It was the only thought she could process before climbing up after the trio and demanding they left her property, because it…

She had been leaning on the edge. The roof edge gave in and she had fallen from second floor high on her back on the shingle road. There was complete silence and for a second she thought she’d died and gone to hell, because the three men were still standing on the roof and just staring at her on the road.

No, the pain crashing through her right knee clearly stated she was not dead. She’d broken her leg.

Well, at least she was dressed for the afternoon tea, she tried to joke, but she felt like crying instead. She choke on calling them for help. Instead her hand started scanning through the area near her for her phone. It couldn’t fallen far, could it? Her back ached, but she resisted, slowly turning her head and eyeing the phone few meters away. She couldn’t remember, how she got to it. It had cracked, closed down the sim-card, but she was happy for the first time over this week to see it still allowed emergency calls.

“Hello?” she whispered, shocked how scratchy her voice was. “I need an ambulance, please?” she began slowly, watching how the men finally got their movement back and disappeared from her roof. She should report them. Then again, she’d need money for that. “I, um, I fell from the roof?” she offered to the dispatcher’s question of the kind of her emergency. “I think I broke my leg…”

She refused to cry. She would admit the defeat, but she would refuse to cry and show it. There was no winning against someone, who deliberately was out to make a point and she had received enough education to understand that.

The ambulance arrived ten minutes later, which she spent her phone pressed against her chest and staring at the blue sky. It was so peaceful there, not a single cloud. They broke her illusion, bringing back the reality and the pain as they tried to raise her on the stretcher.

“Can’t you see how old this is?” the blond doctor was attaching her to the stretcher. “Why did you climb there in the first place? Stupid, stupid little girl!”

“She should have fixed it after I told her how dangerous it was!”

The voice belonged to the dark haired woman she’d met a week ago. She turned her head away, when they rolled her past them. Not a word. Instead she watched the wreckage she’d caused to the garage. The roof was now shining through as if sun had finally won the area back for itself.

She got out two days later. Fractured knee cap and broken tibia. Patched up, checked for concussion and sent back to the house, where no one was waiting for her arrival. She got out of the taxi, balancing herself on the crutches. That’s how the postman found her, staring at the edge of her garage in complete silence. She gave the postman his demanded signature, opened the envelope. Fine for 2000 from the town’s housing department for “keeping dangerous ruins on her property”.

She started work on it the moment she got the fine paid after selling her car. First she pulled the garage down. That wasn’t so hard even for a lady with one leg. The mortal had turned to dust over the years and the wooden parts were paper. The only things still strong were the bricks. She weighted them on her hands for a moment, looked at the non-existing border she shared with her neighbors and set the first stone on the edge. She knew the job. She sat on A-frame she found in the empty garage. It gave her enough support for her leg. It wasn’t very hard – just few splashes of mortal, a brick and pull clean.

Her neighbors stood in their garden and just stared. She was crazy, was their decision and the woman kept mumbling how rude she was, to build a wall between the premises after just one misunderstanding. She even went to the neighbor across the road with the same problem.

“Rude, I tell ya!”

But what she didn’t expect was the deep frown forming on the old man’s forehead. “What sort of animals are you?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Your kids and hubby have been taunting her the entire week!”

“What ya mean?”

“Don’t pretend you don’t know! She has tried to warn them, call them off twice a day every day! I know because I could hear! Now that the railing didn’t hold because your husband took 4 of his buddies there, you blame her of being rude? It’s not your property! What world you come from that you don’t understand the difference between private property and your own? Teach your kids to behave better rather than blame her!”

He left her standing on the front yard and headed back inside while the woman turned and watched her lay brick after brick between them. All that because she asked her to put a sign up to warn her kids not to climb on top of the old garage.



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