House Envy

The middle house on the street's east side resented its west side counterpart. Staring at a solid mahogany front door opening and closing so perfectly made it angry and do things like, when there were no people around, shout profanity. Not that people could hear or understand house language anyway, nor could dogs. Cats understood and saw it all, but they were no help - they sat on window sills and listened and meowed. Houses just ignored them.

Limestone headers above metal paned windows on the west side's middle house added to the constant dismay of the east side middle house. For years, east sneered at west. West laughed at east with its peeling paint and water damaged brick. The laughter infuriated east further and its shouting would ensue until a point of exhaustion came, a defeated state of frustration. East felt hopeless to change its situation because no matter how much noise it made, it remained stuck in place. A house could scream and make a fuss, but it couldn’t move.

Years passed and people bought and sold the houses. Neighborhood cats died and others were born and still others were brought along by owners or renters. Dogs came and went too, but the houses paid them no mind. The middle house on the east side couldn't see itself as it underwent renovation inside and got a new coat of paint out front, but it felt the changes as they occurred, and it eyed the reaction of its nemesis across the street. Its nerves were raw in anticipation of something it couldn’t affect, something it had no choice but to accept. It knew everything was okay, though, when it saw the west side middle house cringe with jealousy.

When the east side middle house finally looked across the street with confidence, it missed the drama of the screaming it used to do. Cats missed the screaming too – they slept on the window sills in peace instead of meowing with eyes wide. Dogs went on as if nothing had changed.


  1. Interesting piece - how the grass is always greener on the other side! and how the fact that something is different provokes an emotional response. Just like our world eh.

  2. I love this! It's happening on several streets in my neighbourhood right now. The human inhabitants complain the neglected houses are bringing down prices, then complain again when they are fixed up because they're making the neighbourhood inaccessible.

    1. Oh, and me? I live in a low-rise condo :-)

  3. Interesting look at how homes seem to have feelings too Richard, I can easily see it. The ending feels like there's a lot more to the story. I wonder if there's a follow-up story to come, if the houses ever feel "even" and get along?

  4. Heheh!! I have a feeling these two houses would turn sideways if it were possible, then they wouldn't have to deal with their animosity. :)

  5. Houses are weird. They do crazy things when we aren't looking.