I walked across the cul-de-sac to the single story house across from us. I stepped past the demolished driveway, over the walkway reduced to rubble, and up to the front door. I rang the bell, twice. I wasn’t sure if the occupants would hear it over the noise of the jackhammers.
A good-looking guy in his late 20s answered the door. As he stepped out of the house down to the dirt where the stoop had been, he introduced himself.
“Hi, I’m Mitch.”
Someone shouted from inside, “Honey, close the door!”
“Oh, yeah,” he said, pulling the front door shut behind him.
“Hi, I’m Michelle,” I said.
“Rachel?” he asked, over the noise from the construction.
“Michelle,” I said louder.
“When will this construction be over do you think?”
Mitch hesitated. “I’m not sure.”
“I’m asking because,” and here I take a breath, “I’m a writer. This jackhammering has been going on for at least a week. Over there on the second floor,” I waved in the direction of my house, “is my office. I can’t open the windows, and even with the windows shut the noise is deafening.”
“Well, it’s the best way to excavate all this,” Matt said as he swept his hand across the front of his large, pie-shaped lot.
“It wouldn’t be so bad if I knew when it would stop,” I said. “In fact, it did seem to have stopped for a day or two, but then it started up again.”
“Oh, at first we just planned to do the walkway and the front step, but then we added the driveway. Then we decided to put in new landscaping, and that meant a new sprinkler system, too. Anyhow, what do you want them to do, use shovels?”
“Couldn’t you get one of those little Bobcat excavation things, whatchamacallits, backhoes?”
“I don’t know; I’d have to ask the foreman.” Mitch frowned.
“Can’t you at least let me know, is it going to be another day, another week, or what?”
“Do you think we like this?” Mitch said, changing to a more aggressive response.
Don’t tell me how bad you have it, I thought.
“We have a three-week old baby.”
“Well, if you could just let me know when you think this crew will be finished, I’d appreciate it,” I replied.
Mitch looked left and right, as if he didn’t want to be overheard giving away state secrets. “Don’t quote me on this, but we’re hoping to pour concrete next Friday.”
Today was Saturday. At least another four days of teeth-rattling noise.
“Ok, thanks,” I said, turning to go.
“Bye,” Mitch said as he went inside.
As I walked back to my house, I realized that for the first time I had uttered those words: I am a writer. I picked up my step, noticing the bright blue sky, and wished I could whistle.
About Michelle: After a 35-year career in university teaching, I decided to try my hand at creative non-fiction. It’s been a tough switch but after three years I feel I’m making good progress. My other activities include riding my bicycle about 50 miles a week; working out in the gym, swimming, and yoga; and taking my new puppy, Kiah, on long walks. I working on a memoir about overcoming a lifetime of depression and I’ve taken up meditation to help me sort things out. At age 69, I look forward to the years I have left to be filled with peace and harmony.