She walked past my gate at ten to eight each morning, wearing purple and a splash of denim. Our house sits up on a little hill, one street back from the ocean and each morning she became my alarm clock, signalling it was time to load my kids in the car.
At a quarter to three each afternoon, through the deep heat of summer, she walked past my front porch again. In the cool breeze of autumn, in the stinging rain of winter and the smell of fresh jasmine from the spring, there she was walking down the path always early, ready for her children at the school gate.
I would watch her children jump on their trampoline each afternoon, screaming and yelling out my kitchen window, whilst I prepared dinner. Smiling as they jumped with sheer abandonment, looking over to my two lying on the lounge room floor.
I could here her yelling in frustration at about ten past six, telling them to clean their bedrooms and brush their teeth. I smiled and wondered whether she heard my tired yelling and frustrations, I wondered if she ever thought about my family, the way I often did hers.
Then one day my neighbourhood alarm clock, no longer walked past my front gate. She was gone.
I stood there wondering why I hadn’t asked her inside for coffee. I saw her twice a day, everyday, all I needed to do was ask her would you like a cup of tea.
Opening the front door can be the hardest step.
Do you have a neighbour you’d like to invite in for a cup of tea?