Farah wipes the dust from her hands onto her jeans, and the worn white hills turn fuzzy gray. Like mountains after the sun melts the snow, and the smog pours in. She stares down for a moment, the pattern more interesting than the topology of yet another dying town. This is the fifth anonymous town they’ve stuck her in, or is it the sixth? The witness protection program is more exhausting than glamorous.
Squinting back the tears, she stares blankly out the windows at the sad little trees and the brown yard. Birds are chirping, but instead of bright it feels monotonous. Walking back out to the rental truck, she suddenly notices a neighbor on the porch across the street. Farah waves, and turns intentionally to watch the birds bicker in the branches before he can respond.
Abe waves, but she doesn’t see it. New neighbors are fascinating, in this quiet place. The best entertainment he gets outside of NCIS and football on the TV. He watches, trying to guess why she moved here. Her hair is a black cloud that lags behind her, bouncing in opposition.
The jackdaws, sparrows, and finches from all around seem to have set up choirs in her trees, trying to impress the new resident. Abe watches her bent over the fence watching all their dancing, and feels a prickle on his skin like she can read his mind through the back of her head, using her hair as a satellite dish.
He gets up, painfully, and walks inside. “We finally get to meet the gal who bought Jolene and Paul’s house. Looks like a single woman, hon.”
“Well there goes the neighborhood,” his wife jokes. “Now with your knees how they are, don’t you dare go offer to help move. What kind of sandwich do you want for lunch?”
He doesn’t answer at first, thinking of songbirds singing in the impossible dark nests of the new neighbor’s hair.