The Merits of Fences

Prompt: Fence | Word Count: 200 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 24, 2020

Do you ever wonder how languages come to change? Old sayings take on new meaning. Like an old proverb, “good fences make good neighbors,” brought back into common usage by Frost’s poem. I suspect that after this pandemic, we might all have another interpretation of this old saw.

My neighbor’s fence is a physical demarcation of our permissible paths. Six feet from our hedges, we wave and greet each other. Never closer, because “you never know what goes on in another’s house.” This saying also takes a twisted turn in these uncertain times. These days that could be risky indeed. They could , knowingly or unknowingly, carry a menace right up to the property line. Or you could. Best to mask up and stay safely on your side of the fence.

When the ambulance pulls up next door, the fence becomes a barrier blocking compassion as medics carry out a loaded stretcher. Every instinct to comfort must be rejiggered to comply with the mandates of our time. More than anything I wish the fences to be gone. I wish to know the story in my neighbor’s home. I wish I could move close enough to help without raising concern and suspicion.

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