Vermont Currency

My neighbor offers to pay me to stack her wood. I reply she can’t pay me, but I would stack it anyway.

The woman and I stand in her yard, looking eye to eye. I am inches below five feet. In her seventies, the woman seems both tough and fragile. She asks what she’s going to have to do for me – cook, is that it?

Without thinking, I say something that surprises me: Maybe you should just be happy with this? Why not do me a favor and allow me to do this?

She thinks this over – there’s an actual pause – before she agrees.

It’s an interesting and largely unspoken contract. She’s an attorney; I’m a writer. We’re each divorced. Both small and scrappy, accepting help is a reluctant relief.

The next morning, while I’m cooking noodles to pack for my daughter’s lunch, my neighbor appears at our double glass kitchen doors. I’m in trouble, she says.

I ask her in, cautioning her not step on a kitten.

She’s closing on her house at noon, and behind in packing. When my daughter heads to school, leaping the cemetery fence, I walk over to the neighbor’s and take a look. Then I walk back to my house and shout for my teenager to wake up. Your help is needed! In a bit, my long-legged girl walks over drinking a can of this orange juice she keeps buying, takes a good around, says, Hmm, and then, Where’s the packing tape?

A skilled packer, when we run out of cardboard boxes, she goes out to the woodpile, empties plastic milk crates, and loads those with the iron skillets. We pass a fat black marker back and forth between us, to label the boxes.

Written on my summer fan
torn in half
in autumn.

– Bashō

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About Brett Ann Stanciu

A writer and sugarmaker, Brett Ann lives with her two daughters in stony soil Vermont. Her novel HIDDEN VIEW was published by Green Writers Press in the fall of 2015. Let my writing speak for itself.
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One Response to Vermont Currency

  1. Karen says:

    I’m small and scrappy too,.. “a force to be reckoned with” says my husband. This week we celebrate the birth of our first grandchild. My daughter wants me to go by “Mamma Bear”. If the shoe fits..
    Hope your new neighbors are a blessing to you.

    Like

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