Claire Jaggard


New Year, New Neighbour

This came third in the Senior Duologue category of Mid-Somerset Festival's 2023 Creative Writing competition.

Scene: A cold winter’s day: a man approaches a woman lying on her driveway with her eyes closed.

Her: Be careful, whoever you are. I don’t want you to fall too.

Him: Are you OK? Can you open your eyes?

Her: I think I’ve broken my nose. I heard it crack when I hit the ground.

Him: Did you slip on the ice?

Her: It was the dustbin; the second one. It distracted me.

Him: Ah, that would be mine.

Her: This is not how I planned to start this year. Today was supposed to be... a good day.

Him: You can probably let go of your rubbish bags now. I’ll put them in the bin for you.

Her: Did you make a New Year’s resolution?

Him: Me? No. You?

Her: To declutter. Those bags you’re holding contain all the mess of my life from last year. Now the divorce is done, I’m clearing my house and my mind, ready for whatever the universe wants to throw at me next.

Him: How about sitting up next? Can you manage that?

Her: You should know I don’t make a habit of falling flat on my face. When you choose to live alone, avoiding risk has to be a major part of your strategy. I was wondering why there were two dustbins, not one, that’s all.

Him: It could be worse; if you hadn’t had your hands full, you might have tried to break your fall. This way your arms are still OK.

Her: True, and I would have used them to call for help if I hadn’t left my phone on the kitchen counter. Who takes their phone with them when they put the bins out?

Him: I spotted you through the window while I was waiting for the kettle to boil. I’m your new neighbour, by the way.

Her: That explains the second dustbin. I’m so sorry, I should be standing on your doorstep with a freshly baked cake, not lying here caked in blood.

Him: You’re shivering. It’ll be the shock. I think we should get you indoors where it’s warm. Here, take my hand.

Her: Oh dear, so much blood. I didn’t like this jumper anyway. Maybe I’ll treat myself to a nicer one in the sales.

Him: So much for decluttering! Let’s put that kettle back on and I’ll slug some brandy into a cup of tea for you. And it’s not freshly baked, but I do have leftover Christmas cake if you’d like a piece.

Her: I’ll drink to that. Out with the old and in with the new. Happy New Year, new neighbour.