Friday Fiction – The Newcomer

The Fictioneers have made the press again, and happily so, the Daily Post – proof not only that Madison had a fantastic idea and carried it through well as our founder, but that Rochelle’s leadership continues to take us from strength to strength. I’m proud to be part of such a great and supportive group of writers.

Rochelle has given us one of her own pictures this week, and what jumped out first was not the criss-cross porch or the roman-style columns, but the green grass and tree beyond. We’ve just returned from a weekend at Blue Mountain ski resort, to a Toronto still in deep-freeze, and green has always been a colour that soothes my soul. I may have to stare at the picture a little longer, take in some virtual Vitamin D and pray for spring. But in the meantime, a story – one that I hope is, if not clear, then explicitly unclear. I welcome your feedback – good or bad.



The Newcomer

They watched it going up from behind twitching curtains or open stares. Everyone had an opinion, none of them good.

But it rose as surely as the sun, and when it was finished – when the builders had gone and the surrounding ground turned from dirty mud to lush lawn – they flocked to the door carrying flowers and fruit, greeting the new neighbour with smiles and good wishes.

He, for his part, returned the smiles, accepted the gifts and called everybody “friend”. And so, with a wink, and the turning of a blind eye, he might have appeared welcome.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

37 responses to “Friday Fiction – The Newcomer

  1. Helena Hann-Basquiat

    I feel like your writing is strangely subtle this week. That’s not a bad thing, I’m just left wanting to know more about this newcomer. OR one could almost read the utter lack of information about him as an indictment of the locals — that they know nothing about him but are already wagging their tongues about him, playing at fake niceties.

    • Thanks Helena – you’re quick off the mark today with reading too! I’m pleased the subtlety didn’t put you off. I’m not sure who is the bad guy in this piece … that’s up to you as the reader, but I’m very happy for you to join me on the proverbial fence and see how it pans out!

      • Helena Hann-Basquiat

        Jen, I’m doing something crazy today and unmasking after 2 years…. so I’m trying to be as present and available as possible. If you’re interested, there’s a link in my story. (Also, if you’re quick and clever, you’ll find another clue here in the Linkup.)

  2. I think this feels familiar to anyone who lives in a rural community. The minute someone puts in for planning permission everyone is a chatter, but how they treat you in person can be quite different. Everyone’s a gossip in the countryside.

  3. That was so evocative of ‘neighbouring’. I liked that I wasn’t sure who was winking and turning blind eyes; and I liked that demonstration of faux neighbourliness. Good one.

  4. The feeling I got at the end is the neighbors were probably right. 😉

  5. Dear Jennifer,

    I like the way he saw through their fake welcome. So much said in few words. Well layered and subtle.



  6. good for him. being a newcomer, he was playing his cards well.

  7. It’ll take 20 years before he’s accepted. Even then he’ll still be the incomer. Nicely portrayed.

  8. I really like this – slightly cryptic…why is he taking their gifts when he’s thinking something else, and we don’t know what. An uncomfortable read (that’s meant as a compliment).

  9. Definite undertones this week – I hope the neighbourhood settles down in time.

  10. So many reasons that the hospitality might be a facade. Racism jumps into my mind right away–the kind of racism that, in the mind of the owner, couldn’t possibly be racism because “I gave that black fellow a casserole when he moved in just like I gave Erma’s family when they came.” Of course, there could be plenty of other reasons for the sentiments in the neighborhood. I grew up in “small town” America, so I can count more ways than I want to even consider.

    Good story, Jen. IMO, the mystery you leave at the end of the tale is an excellent example of leading the reader to a certain place and allowing the choosing of an end without being a lazy writer. You tied up the loose ends, but we can choose what to make of the remaining knot.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

  11. Ooo, those fake neighbors! I wonder if he’ll soon become one of them though, for the next new neighbor that moves in.

  12. In a place like that it will probably take generations to be really welcome.. seem to be an unspoken agreement despite the friendly greetings…

  13. And that’s why I chose to live in a remote place! Actually this could be the start of an interesting ongoing story.

  14. Hmmm. Thanks for leaving me wondering.

  15. I enjoyed reading this one – agree with others, very successful ambiguity. It reminded me of ‘The Great Gatsby’, FWIW.

  16. Interesting piece. It kind of reminded me of Faulkner, like this understated social critique with hints of something incredibly creepy.

  17. Was it meant to be stores or was it meant to be a pun? ❓

  18. Very atmospheric. The neighbours are going through the motions of being welcoming, without much sincerity, but the new man seems like he’s holding back, too. Well told.

  19. I really like this. It almost doesn’t matter who the newcomer is – the locals, however friendly they appear to be – have already made up their mind that he is no good. This would work as a chapter one, it draws us into wondering about his past, do they have good reason not to trust him, and what does this new neighbourliness hold in the future for all concerned?

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