Making The First Move

Which of their neighbours would be brave enough?

Ellen finished tidying the kitchen and walked into the living room. She wasn’t surprised to see George standing at the window, peering through the slats on the Venetian blind.

“Nothing yet,” George said without turning. “No one’s brave enough to make the first move.”

“It might be a bit early yet,” said Ellen, looking at the clock. “I expect everyone’s still clearing up after tea and putting the children to bed.”

“I wish they’d hurry up,” said George. “It’ll be dark soon. It’s harder to see in the dark.”

“Keep an eye on Number 24,” suggested Ellen. “There’s a lamp-post at the foot of their drive. That might shed some light on the matter.”

If she hoped her feeble attempt at humour might raise a smile from her husband, she was disappointed.

“Number 24? Are you kidding? Don’t you remember what their delinquent son did a while ago?”

Ellen laughed.

“Harry’s hardly a delinquent, dear,” she said. “He’s a nice boy. It was just an April Fool prank.”

“Prank? It caused havoc! Threw everyone off kilter. No one had a clue for weeks afterwards.”

“But it all got sorted out in the end, didn’t it?” said Ellen. “Now come and sit down. Coronation Street’s about to start.

“You can check again when it’s finished. Someone might have done something by then.”

George was just about to do as his wife instructed when movement from across the road caught his eye.

“Hang on,” he said, “The new man at Number 18’s coming out of the house.”

“But they’ve only just moved in,” said Ellen anxiously, “Will he know the right thing to do?”

“He’s bound to have an idea,” said George, “Didn’t you say he works for the Council?”

“In the Finance Department,” said Ellen. “I’m not sure he’ll be any more clued up than the rest of us.”

George didn’t say any more. Ellen watched him twist his head awkwardly and lean it against the window pane, all the better to watch what his unsuspecting neighbour was doing.

“False alarm,” George sighed. “He was only fetching something from his car. And it’s starting to rain now.”

“Then you might as well sit down,” said Ellen. “I don’t suppose anyone will do anything until it stops.”

George reluctantly moved across the room and sat down on the sofa, all the time keeping one eye on the television and one on the window.

When the programme ended, Ellen went to make tea, and George continued his surveillance.

“Anything?” Ellen asked, re-entering the room with the tea tray.

George shook his head.

“But the rain’s stopped now, so hopefully that’ll get things moving.”

He took the mug Ellen handed to him and nibbled on a custard cream.

“I saw Mrs Cuthbertson looking out her upstairs window,” he said. “She’s obviously waiting for someone else to make a move too.”

“Yes,” Ellen nodded. “She told me how confused she gets now that her Josh has gone to Uni. He always kept her right with those sorts of things. Apparently, he had an App.”

“An App?” said George. “What was it? We could get it too.”

Ellen shrugged. “I’ve no idea. You know I don’t pay much attention to that stuff. I’ll try to remember to ask the next time I see her.”

“Couldn’t you call her now?” George asked. “Maybe she could phone him.”

“Certainly not,” said Ellen. “How embarrassing would that be? We’d just look stupid, admitting we don’t know what –”

“Shhh,” said George, holding up his hand. “Can you hear it?”

Ellen stopped talking and listened. At first she thought it was the noise of thunder in the distance, but she quickly realised it was actually the sound they’d been waiting to hear.

“Someone’s on the move,” said George, jumping up so quickly, he only just avoided spilling tea on the carpet and subsequently the wrath of his wife.

He rushed to the window.

“Well?” said Ellen, “Don’t keep me in suspense.”

“Can’t really tell,” said George. “It’s hard to see in the dark. But there’s definitely something outside Number 6. They’re usually pretty reliable.”

“Thank heavens for that.”

“Hang on,” George went on. “Number 27’s security light’s just come on. Yes! He’s bringing it round from the back.”

“Can you see the colour?” asked Ellen.

“Blue!” proclaimed George. “Right, I’d better get my shoes on and get on with it.”

Ellen took his place at the window and smiled as the cul-de-sac suddenly came alive with activity as lights switched on, doors opened and wheels rumbled.

She made a mental note to ask Mrs Cuthbertson about the App her son used. Anything was better than going through this performance every week to know what colour of wheelie bin to put out!

Our My Weekly Favourites series of lovely feel-good fiction from our archives continues on Mondays and Thursdays. Look out for the next one.
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