Overly Neighborly

Relaxing in the lake

After an exhausting day culminating an entire week of hard construction work, the best gift I could (and did) give myself was a relaxing swim in the lake, where I could stop thinking about my worries. While there were moments of swimming, mostly I gave myself wholly over to the luscious feelings of restfully floating. I guess I should especially thank my udders for my supreme, effortless buoyancy, though truthfully all of me floated nicely… even my tentacles. The sense of ease and agility I felt in the water was a nice feeling. I’d absolutely learned to navigate around land—my usual habitat. Nevertheless it was impossible to deny that after all these mutations, I was built for the water.

Especially after a day of exhausting work and higher-than-expected heat, the wet, restful cool-off was a great way to end the day.

Just as I reached a deeper level of tranquility quietly floating in the water, I heard someone calling out “Hellooooo!” from the shore, startling me greatly.

Neighbor waves from the shore, over the distance, Tent’s back to the viewer with a tentacle tip out of the water yet out of the neighbor’s sight behind her back

Instinctively I sank up to my shoulders and prayed that no one had seen anything. Once I recovered from the adrenalin rush, I strove to see who was calling me.

On the shoreline in front of the cabin home nearest mine on the other side of the access road stood a young woman of medium height, waving. I waved back tentatively and shyly, forcing a smile she might or might not be able to see over the distance.

I squinted, struggling to see her expression. All I could tell from this far away was that she showed signs of being around my own age, yet even this was as much a speculative guess (or maybe hopefulness) as anything provably objective.

Are you my new neighbor?” she screamed to be heard over the great distance between us.

I hesitated, unsure how best to reply.

I’m”—burldldldrddddlllleee—“, your next-door neighbor across the road.

A passing truck on the highway doing a so-called Jake Brake drowned out part of what this young woman had been yelling.

I’d heard that somebody bought the house, but nothing more. So excited to meet youuuu!

The degree of her excitement mirrored—indeed, created—my degree of cratering despair, suddenly confronted with a very nearby neighbor after so carefully researching and having found that these other nearby cabin homes were “weekender” or vacation get-away places.

Care to come over for coffee? Or tea? Or milk or whatever if you prefer?

Her mention of milk made me wince: that was the last beverage I wanted to think about, much less consume! “It’s really not a good time right now. Taking a lake soak rest break after a hard work week” I loudly called back, hoping to be understood.

Oh, OK” she kindly replied. “Some other time then!

I nodded and smiled, breathing a quiet sigh of relief as I turned and refocused on the beauty of the surrounding forest. My redirected attention had the desired effect of urging her back into her home, which progress I monitored with my peripheral vision. Worried that this person might decide to look out any one or more of her windows at me, I swam below water level back to shore as near to the front door of my house as possible, impressing myself with how very fast I could (and did) move in the water when such was my goal.

The sound of this woman’s cabin door closing was my signal to rush out of the water and back into my cabin as swiftly as possible, ignoring whatever mud, dirt, etc. I might drag with me in the process.

“Hhhhhhhhhhhh” I sighed, the moment I fully closed the front door. {From now on I’m going to have to be much more careful about when and where I go outside.}

While nowhere near as long a relaxing soak as I’d hoped, at least I’d enjoyed some restful watery reprieve from work. I made a point of doing slow, deep breathing to settle myself down as I wiped muddy water off the floor with several rags then got into the shower.

Figurative bullet dodged: safely ensconced back inside my home, peace was once again mine. I enjoyed a pleasant dinner and generally relaxing evening, heading to bed on the early side for an extended rest.

Peace did not last long. The very next afternoon while I was doing inside-the-house work (online web work, doing laundry) an old-timey hardwired phone made before I was born (guessing early 1990s from the styling) jarred my nerves as it suddenly rang. {I thought this was for decoration} I thought as I picked it up with one of my left tentacles, bringing it within hand reach. {I didn’t think it worked!}

Seated on couch, 2 tentacles as a back rest. 4 other tentacles doing laundry, 1 holding the old phone’s base, the last one resting on a nearby single bed.

Feeling like a character in some old movie or TV show, I picked up the handset and spoke, “Hello?”

“Hi! Rose calling.”

“Sorry? Do I… know you?”

“I’m your neighbor across the road at the narrow end of the lake. The one who was waving and calling out to you from the shore yesterday evening.”

Along with the explanation, hearing more of her voice allowed my mind to recognize the vocal similarity between the woman who’d yelled over the distance yesterday and the one speaking to me far more softly now as one and the same. “Oh riiiiiiggghht. That loud truck drove by out on the highway when you were speaking, so I didn’t catch your name.”

“It’s all good.”

“How did you get this number? I don’t even know this number! As far as I know I’m not even paying for hardwired telephone service.”

“You have Internet service?”

“Of course! It’s the 21st. century; how could I not?!”

She giggled loudly. “Yeah, I know. With Frontier, right?”

“Is there any other choice out here?”

“No, which is why I know I’m correct.”

{Then why did you ask?} I thought, saying nothing of the sort aloud.

“So the thing with Frontier is that they were founded on taking over old hardwired telephone service infrastructure in areas where the legacy telephone companies that built them were eager to abandon them and move on to the modern world. They can’t imagine anybody not wanting a hardwired phone line, so all their bundles have that as part of base service.”

“Weird, but OK. That doesn’t answer how you know my number.”

“They don’t like to change things if they don’t have to. Besides that, my understanding is that when Flo Eweh, the previous owner of your home, had to leave suddenly, she left her Internet and thus phone service running.”

“Yes on the Internet part, so apparently true for the phone service too.”

“That means you have the same number she did: 468-6455, which is easy to remember because it spells out HOT MILK.”

“UHH!” I gasped before I could catch myself, figuratively screaming in the confines of my mind {WHHHYYYYYYY?!}.

“Umm, you OK?”

“Yeah yeah—sorry. Just got an annoying text, that’s all” I lied.

“Yeah, those are no fun. So is it a good time for me to come over and say hello in-person?”

“Mmmm, not really. I work from home, so I’m actually at work right this moment, or supposed to so be.”

“Oh OK. When’s your next break? Or lunch hour or whatever?”

“Really Rose: I’m busy all day, dawn to dusk and beyond ’til bed. There was some downtime during the move, hence I’m striving to put out more than ever to retain my client base.” {The client base I wish I had!}


I could hear the sadness in her voice.

“I’m just so close by, annnnd… I live on my own and don’t interact with that many people, so it’s so exciting to have a new neighbor! Just so you know, you’re welcome to come by any time—day or night” she breathlessly shared, over-excited for reasons I could not fathom.

“I will definitely keep that in mind. Just to appropriately set your expectations: I’m the loner solitary type.” I hadn’t been so extremely much of one in my prior life, though for very compelling reasons I’d become one now!

“I won’t be too intrusive, I promise! I enjoy my solitude as well. Just… that it’s good to have neighbors, and to at least meet one another. With us Bubblensqueakers being so few, there’s really no excuse for us to not be a tightly-knit tiny community.

The name of the lake fronting our properties was Bubblensqueak Lake, hence her reference to it. Given my desperation to find solitude, it could have been named Buttpiledogfuck Lake or pretty much anything else and I still would’ve moved here. Quite unfortunate that the nearest of only two nearby homes for kilometers in any direction was occupied by an overly-curious young woman.

“Pretty pretty please may we schedule a day and time to get together?” she insisted.

“Truly Rose, I can’t tell you when that could possibly be. I never know even one day in advance when I’ll have any free time. Getting settled in and keeping my telecommute work going is quite the challenge.”

“Oh I promise I won’t keep you long! Just a quick Hi, that’s all.”

There was no changing her mind; this was not good. Henceforth I now had this new issue to worry about, along with everything else already on my life’s plate. “What’s your preferred contact information? Text, voice phone—whatever.”

She excitedly rattled off every shard of contact information she had—even a MySpace account, which blew my mind! I assured her that I would contact her and let her know when it was a good time, again setting her expectations that a good time for me was unlikely to happen for weeks at the earliest.

We ended our call on good terms. I immediately found and turned off the ringer switch on this amusingly old hardwired telephone, setting it back where it had been, hoping to never have it disturb my peace again.

Busy eating breakfast in the kitchen, nearly filling it with her huge body

{Maybe I should recheck the nailing on that window header} I thought to myself over breakfast the following morning. {Something didn’t feel quite correct when I nailed it, making me think I didn’t truly “nail it”, in the categorically on-target successful sense. Then again I really do need to double down on getting the Bogon site finished… although something about it leaves me feeling vaguely uneasy.}

Knock knock knock

Planning thoughts for the day drifting through my mind got blown to the far corners of it as someone knocked on the front door. My heart dropped a beat. {Who the hell is here?! Not that nosy neighbor girl I hope! I made it clear that I could not receive anyone for a visit, for heaven’s sake! Now what do I do? She knows I'm here, since I have no way of going anywhere and some lights are on.}

Knock diddly knock-knock, knock knock!

{Shit. If I don’t at least open the door, she might find it odd and become more curious—or assume something bad happened to me, and try to force her way in! Alright} I sighed aloud, {no choice but to try to figure out the fastest way to conceal all these tentacles.}

My mind raced as I slid towards the door, struggling to figure out what to do before the next round of knocking came. Least worst that I could come up with was hiding most of my body to the side, leaning as little of myself as possible out the barely-opened door.

Following a deep breath, that’s what I did.

Neighbor at Tent’s front door, holding a box with both hands as Tent leans out the door as little as possible

“Hello!” the smiling personage standing on my front porch with some sort of boxed offering greeted me.

Of average build in every way, she was indeed by all indications close in age to me. Indeed, her quite typical healthy legs and overall form embodied the woman I myself had long wanted to be.

She apparently took my silence as a signal to continue, “I’m Rose, your neighbor next door across the road at the end of the lake, who called you yesterday and saw you on the shoreline the evening prior.” Her attitude most certainly was welcoming.

“Umm, aahh… It’s really not a good time right now” I tried to smile, wrinkling my nose to make myself seem more friendly.

“Oh I won’t be long. Just… wanted to share these fresh homemade cakes and visit for maybe, hmm, 5 minutes?”

“Truly Rose: I work from home—here, like I told you—and I’m on the clock. I just can’t–”

“–Oh just for a couple of minutes?” she interrupted. “Quick break, that’s all.”

{Not only a too-close neighbor, but a pushy one!} I thought, getting more nervous every moment, wanting to end this situation as soon as possible without her nor anyone else seeing me. Even poking my head and right shoulder out the door as I was had me tense, my huge right breast merely a gravity-slip away from TMI. “No really, I’m not feeling all that well, and it would be the worst new neighbor greeting ever if I made you sick!”

“Oh, my immune system’s in great shape!” she insisted. “I will be delighted to do what I can to help you heal! With medical people and facilities so far away, we lake folk need to stick together to help ourselves and each other stay healthy.”

Before I knew it, her kind words and friendliness had my guard down, and things instantly got a whole lot worse. {Gaaaahhh! She’s inside my houuuuse!}

The neighbor has invited herself inside Tent’s main room, as Tent rushes to cover up

The only thing at all good about this very bad situation was that I hadn’t put the laundry away yet, thus was able to grab the washed and folded bed top sheet, flinging it in an instant around my body, hoping I’d done so before she’d gotten a good look at me.

There was an uncomfortable silence as we stood facing each other, me nervously on-edge watching her, her staring at me. My improvised bed sheet cover did not sufficiently cover me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but there were several tentacles poking out under, behind, and to the sides of the sheet.

Rose stood silent and still, obviously quite shocked.

“I begged you not to come in, Rose. Now you’re here, and this feels super awkward.”

“Yes, you're right, I should not have gotten into your house. I… I… I have to go now. Sorry.”

She started to turn around, queasiness if not outright terror in her face.

My racing mind zoomed through possible scenarios: {If she leaves like this, without my having explained my situation, all efforts to remain anonymous will likely be useless. I have to stop her departure and get her to know the truth!}

Rose is nabbed by 6 of Tent’s tentacles

In the split seconds of my thoughts, she chose the least appropriate choice for me: she rushed towards the door and tried to run away. With no time left to think and my fate at stake, I acted on instinct: several of my tentacles shot out the door, grabbing and retaining her. It was easier than I’d expected; I had enough strength to hold a person easily.

Forcing her—or anyone—to stay was close to the last thing I wanted to do. Now, despite my best efforts, it was happening. Still operating far more on limbic instinct than rational thought, I eased the rest of myself out the front door, so at least we could both be outside.

Outside on the large porch/rail-less deck, explaining whilst holding Rose fully captive, wrapped tightly by 4 tentacles

Can’t tell you exactly what (if anything) I was thinking at the time, other than maybe that fresh air was good and might make her feel like less of a captive. I did not like having to force her to stay so she could hear me out, but it’s the only possibility I could think of to explain my situation and contextualize everything before things spiraled out of control.

HelpMeHelpMeHelpMe!” she cried out to no one who could hear her, other than me.

“I don’t want to hurt you at all, Friendly Neighbor Rose!”

She ceased thrashing, frozen and, for the moment, quiet and wide-eyed.

“Mere months ago I was a normal woman—well, mostly normal, other than I had no legs from birth. But anyway, a series of strange mutations started happening to me—a medical student—for no reason! I wasn’t even in any labs or doing weird experiments or anything!”

Shocked as Rose felt within my grip and appeared, somehow I had the feeling that she was truly listening and I was being understood. Though remaining wide-eyed, she focused attentively on me, saying nothing.

“Seriously: I was going about my life just as I always did, and weird stuff started happening to my body. Obviously I sought trained skilled professional help right away, and there were plenty of expert doctors right there. None of them had any idea what was happening to me, making it all the more scary for me. How’re you doing, neighbor? Comfortable?”

“A little looser on the… mmmm… these, please.”

I relaxed my 4 tentacle wrap grip, nevertheless intent on not letting her go just yet. “How’s this?”

“Fine!” she replied at least an octave too high, suggesting that all was not well.

“Seriously Rose: I didn’t want any of this to happen! Not anything on my body, not anything about this interaction from when you came into my house after I begged you not to.”

I’msorrywillyouletmegonow?!?” she blurted out in another nervous run-on.

As calmly and gentle-voiced as I could (and with a slightly looser grip) I explained, “I’m going to let you go, once our visit is over. You are going to be OK. Please: since you wanted so badly to get to know me, at least stay another few minutes to let me finish explaining why things are the way they are… to the degree myself or anyone understands.”


“Thank you. So as I was saying, months ago mutations started. I’ll save the details for some other time if you want to know, but what I need you to understand now is that they came on gradually, kept relentlessly going with a few pauses, and no one knows why nor how, hence there’s no way to reverse it or make it stop.

“I spent all this past summer hiding in isolation where I used to live near campus, struggling to work things out, or get help. Nothing came of it. The mutations kept going, getting ever-more extreme. There came a point not even a month ago where it became obvious that I could no longer live amongst greater society. That’s when I searched and searched for a place to live where no one else was around, where I could work remotely from home in lines of work where no one ever needs to see me.

“After rushed diligent research, I scraped together my recently-new young adult life savings, buying this house and moving here, to live in peaceful solitude so I won’t wind up being investigated or turn into headline news. It was all going great until you found me, and so far I like you and you seem nice and normally it’s swell having neighbors watching out for one another, but… we weren’t ever supposed to meet like this. I needed time to figure out how to introduce my reality to you. And that’s not what happened.”

I could feel her sweat running down onto my uppermost tentacle of the 4 holding her before I spotted it visually.

“OK we’re almost done I promise. So here’s the thing…. I need you to keep my existence secret from the rest of the world, for what should be obvious reasons. We’re still getting to know each other and we started off on the wrong foot—OK, bad analogy…. Anyway, so far like I just said, I like you. Even if I didn’t, I’d still respect your privacy and your ability to live your own life as you choose and see fit, allowing the same for me. No anger from me, no Jekyll/Hyde stuff. I look like a monster even to myself, but I’m just a young woman who’s caught a series of really bad breaks that no one understands. I have no control over my mutations and I can’t tell you or myself or anyone what’s going to happen, but so far they’ve not touched my mind, other than upsetting me profoundly to my core. I can promise you that whatever happens to me I’ll keep over here on my property, in case you don’t like it… or me.”

Shocked as she remained, I could feel Rose starting to relax slightly.

“So here’s what I can offer you, to encourage you to keep my critical secret: if it is of benefit to you, I can maintain you. Keep you, in other words. Nothing lavish—I’m not that well off!—but hopefully enough to make it worth your while to tell no one of my existence.

“Wholly separate from that offer, I could use some company from time to time, if and only if you feel comfortable with that.”

“I have to think about it. This is an awful lot to take in!” she whined.

“I know” I sighed deeply. “OK, we’ll stop for now.” I put my right hand over my heart (such as I could over the big root area of my huge left breast), “I promise to abide by everything I just shared with you, as long as you keep my secret. I’m trusting you with my life, Rose: your honor, saying nothing about me to anyone other than me myself, and inside the confines of your own mind. If you want my support or other compensation I can manage, or if you want to be neighborly and/or friendly, my doors are open to you. If you never want to deal with me again, I’m OK with that, as long as you keep my secret and I can continue to have my safe space here on my property and especially in my home. My future is in your hands… please be kind!”

“OK!” Her pitch remained elevated, though far less so than earlier.

“Alright; we’re done for now. I’m loosening my grip and doing my best to gently set you down, at which point I’ll fully unwrap from you and you’ll once again be totally free and standing on your own two feet.”

I let her go, just as I’d promised. Something inside me—intuition, most likely—told me that I could trust her. Still showing signs of shock, she eased away slowly at first, soon picking up her pace until she was at least jogging if not slow running back to her home, once she was well beyond my reach.

{Did I just make a serious mistake?} I couldn’t help worrying as I watched her flee. {Is a team of journalists going to come tomorrow? Or doctors, or police?}

Close-up of Tent lying in bed, her mind troubled

All these thoughts stuck with me throughout the remainder of the day and would not let me sleep all night (even after a full pot of soothing Sleepy Bear Extra Oomf tea!). Finally, reality and common sense got through: the decision was already made. It was relegated to the past—history, a record of what happened—unchangeable. There was nothing more which could be done, but to continue with my routine in hopes that I would remain free as long as possible.