I spent all day cooking and the week before wrapping gifts and mailing cards, I worked really hard to make it a special day because it was Christmas.
So on Christmas morning I watched everyone open their gifts and later that day when the rest our guests came over I went through it again- I smiled and filled plates and cups and kept the Christmas music going and listened to stories about Christmas Morning and Christmas Surprises.
I wasn’t sad that I didn’t get a present- what I was sad about was that somehow I had been forgotten. That was what really hurt. I managed to fall off of the radar at Christmas of all times.
Later that day, on the way out the door one of my friends asked what ” I got ” and I smiled and said, ” I got to see all of you guys. ”
She gave me a big hug. ” You’re so sweet! ” she said.
They lived two doors down from us- I think at one point they were a family of five but the kids grew up and left home and that left the woman and her husband.
Their last name was Trowbridge- I think her name was Gillian and his name was Simon.
Sometimes we heard the two of them yelling at each other and sometimes we saw them outside working in their yard and their dog used to run around in circles chasing it’s tail.
It could do that for five or ten minutes, it used to make me dizzy just watching it.
One winter I was looking out the living room window and saw Gillian slip in the driveway and then I saw her call someone on her phone.
About 15 minutes later I was leaving through my front door to check the mail and saw Simon helping her up. She walked behind him slowly and when he turned around I heard him say, ” I was on the other line. Sorry. Alright? I’m sorry.”
Two years ago I saw a moving van pull up and the movers took out boxes and some furniture. One of the grown children came for the dog. The last time I saw Gillian she was standing in the doorway and then she turned around and went inside.
An hour later the lights went off and I never saw anyone go in or out of the house. The yard grew wild and one day we came home from work and the landscapers were just leaving.
That night the Police came and a little while after that the coroner’s light gray van pulled up and we saw them take someone out on a stretcher.
After all of the cars had gone from Gillian’s driveway, Mr Phipps who lived across the street from the Trowbridges saw us standing in our yard and he walked over to give us the skinny.
Mr Phipps told us that Simon had left Gillian a few years ago and she kept the house- he had assumed that meant she still owned it, he had no idea she had been living in it all that time.
Then Mr Phipps looked at Gillian’s dark house and he said, ” I heard she hung herself in the attic.”
Her attic window faces my loft window- we use the loft as a rec room- and we do spend a lot of time up there.
Mr Phipps cleared his throat and I suppose he was wondering if I had absorbed the fact that Gillian hung herself in front of a window that I could see easily from my house.
The thing is I never noticed anything out of the ordinary or strange.. I’m not sure what Mr. Phipps wanted me to say.
” I honestly never saw anything- I mean. We were just neighbors.”