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Their curtains have been closed, thick mustard drapes that irregularly twinkle light in as eyes peer out. My neighbours have been acting shady. Normally full of quiet acceptance that we neither talk to each other or actively avoid each other, I know very little about them. But I know they’re up to something.
I can hear extra voices through the tissue paper walls. They normally speak in English even though it’s not their first language, but now I hear hushes in words I can’t comprehend. There’s someone new in their home. Why are they hiding them? My slender fingers cover a gasp as I conclude they must be illegal! An illegal immigrant on the other side of my wall, here in an English city suburb. No! These are things you see on the news, not the kind of thing to happen to people like me.
I consider phoning the police. They’d know what to do, send them back to where they belong. Maybe I’d get a reward? I doubt it but it’s worth a try?
I press a glass tumbler against the white paint and strain, but the foreign words just sound more alien now I can hear them clearly. I pick up the corded phone, would this be a 999 situation, it’s not exactly an emergency… A concern meanders in to my mind forcing a pause. What if this brings unwanted attention to my neighbourhood? I don’t want to look bad! And I don’t want to cause any trouble for us law abiding citizens. Don’t want to be getting caught up in that hoo hah!
The phone hovers in my hand, my mind not made up yet. My decision. A thought that I would never have sits quietly in the corner, it can’t penetrate my gossip-fearing law-abiding soul. The thought: that illegal immigrants are human beings. I wonder what they’ve been through to finally end up here.
The thought watches me. As if looking into my eyes will help it travel behind them, and squeeze its way into the jumble of self absorbency that is circling. But it’s not magic. And I’m not that person.
I put the phone down. I don’t want the neighbours to be able to trace this back to me. They might terrorist attack me or something…