There's one in every street, we were told. They'll get over it, we were told. It's only natural, we were told. All very comforting, but somehow beside the point. The fact was that almost as soon as we moved into the little terraced house in the quiet little country town, the people in the end house started to let us know, in their own inimitable way, that they'd really much rather we hadn't.
You know how it is, the other neighbours said soothingly. New people, particularly if they come from far enough away, are always regarded as foreigners, and therefore somehow grotesque. The fact that I'm a little taller than average, and Yaz is a little rounder than average, I suppose didn't help. Nor did our accents. Oh, we could find enough excuses to fill a black hole, but the fact remains that there is no real excuse for that kind of xenophobia, and the sooner that's generally realised the better life will be for everyone.
Sorry. Bit of a vaulting horse of mine.
The first inkling we had that all was not well was one Sunday. We'd been to an exhibition of primitive combat techniques, and arrived home, tired but happy, to discover that someone had taken our parking place. This left us no option but to park on the roadside, directly opposite the end house, and between two cars which were rather closer together than we liked. Yaz was doing quite well, given the circumstances and my total ineptitude at giving directions, when we happened to notice the entire family sitting out on the steps of the end house, watching us. And laughing.
You can imagine what happened. We both went to pieces. Yaz shuttled the car back and forth, back and forth, getting angrier and angrier, and eventually got out, swore black and blue at them and stormed into the house in tears. It was then that one of them got up in a leisurely manner and calmly moved one of the offending cars off the road and into their empty drive. I went in and tried to comfort Yaz, and we had a row. A real husband, apparently, would have gone and punched all their faces, or at least sworn at them some more. I just couldn't see how that would have helped. We patched it up later, apologising over and over again to each other, but the damage was done. The shine was off our new little home, and we knew that in one family's opinion, at least, we were not welcome.
It took us a while to notice the next stage. Where we had come from there were always shouts and screams of one sort or another. You learn to block out the ones that aren't relevant. Thus we weren't aware at first that we were being shouted at in the street, by the end house kids. They didn't use our name. Possibly they never learned it. No, they called us "Monsters."
That hurt. Maybe we weren't local born and bred, but we'd made every effort to blend in with the background. That went beyond simple insensitivity into deliberate viciousness.
Yaz always says "Don't get mad, get even." Usually she tries to do both. Me, I don't do either. I just...remember.
We bore it patiently, reminding ourselves what the other neighbours had said, what our friends had said, waiting for them to get bored with the game. They didn't. They just found a better one.
One night I was soaking in the bath, relaxing for the first time in weeks, when all the lights went out. Yaz's startled squeak from the bedroom crossed with my strangled curse as I caught my shin on the bath edge, and we wasted seconds reassuring each other before I went downstairs in a towel to check the fuse box, which was outside in the bin store. I must have looked highly amusing streching across the angle of the porch to peer into the darkness. Of course the power had simply been switched off, and of course after a merry half hour resetting and restarting all our electrical equipment and consoling each other, it happened again. Any lingering doubts were dispelled when Yaz, whose head was out of the window almost before the lights had died, reported hearing childish giggles and seeing someone run off in the direction of the end house.
Anyone who has been thinking, up to now, that we were getting steamed out about nothing, is invited to consider what the consequences of this little prank might have been had Yaz been on a life support machine, or had I been pouring boiling water, or getting out of the bath instead of lying in it.
The next day I bought a padlock for the bin store, and fitted it that night. The day after that we decided that enough was enough, and laid our plans accordingly. The children from the end house were obviously free to come and go as they pleased, day or night. One night a couple of weeks later, one of them saw what looked like money on the floor just outside our front door. The temptation was too great to resist. He sidled on to the porch, and was caught between me emerging from the bin store and Yaz coming out of the house.
The egg had been nagging at me for days, since the last time we had made love. I usually flush it down the loo, but I hadn't got out to it. You know how it is. Yaz held him down while I injected it at the base of his skull and waited till the hypnotics took effect. Then we implanted to few simple commands needed to ensure its safety, and sent him shambling home, dazed but unable to remember why. Presumably they put his unnatural quietness down to glue sniffing or whatever, because he was out and about the next day, though he gave our house a wide circle.
He'll be all right for a few weeks, till the egg hatches. Then he'll be...a little different. Like us. Only alone.
We'll be moving on. The neighbourhood's spoiled for us now. We only want to be left in peace. So it's another little terraced house, another quiet little country town, and hopefully neighbours who, even if they don't like us, are willing to live and let live.
That's all we ask.