A. Joseph Black
Christ, he’s still there. I lean back out of view and catch the curtain with my shoulder. It sways out across the window but thankfully he’s looking the other way.
He just keeps walking backwards and forwards: cupping his hand to the window, checking if I’m here, and then knocking my door. Checking and knocking, knocking and checking. Can he not see I’m not in?
His parcel’s right here, by my feet. The postman left it with me yesterday. He asked if my neighbour was in and I said I had no idea. Then he asked me would I take a parcel for him. Before I could refuse he’d left it on the doorstep and by the time I got down to look through the letterbox he was halfway back down the path.
Of course, I could just open my door right now and hand my neighbour the parcel. But then I’d have to talk to him. And he’d see into my house. When all I want is for him to go away.
Eventually he gives up and leaves without his parcel. But not before he puts a note through my door saying that he’ll call back tomorrow. Or if I could just put it behind his blue bin “that would be great”. As soon as he leaves for work I take it out to the bins, just as he reappears at the gate patting his pockets. He’s forgotten something. He sees me and breaks into a half run.
“Excuse me, hiya mate, excuse me – ”
I throw the parcel down and run back inside, slamming the door behind me and triple locking it.
A. Joseph Black is from Carnlough, Ireland and writes short stories and flash fictions. He was runner up in the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award in 2018 and 2021 and his stories By the Lake (2016) and Nora (2019) were published as chapbooks in Australia. His short story A Little Cloud was The Irish Times New Irish Writing for January 2020.