Keep Out: A writing challenge from Sethsnap

This blogging thing, y’all.  It’s so random and awesome.  Like, for example, how someone I’ve never met can like a blog post of mine, and then I go visit his blog, and I fall in love with his photos of Ohio that, weirdly, remind me of NH.

Anyway, he does this little series called Your Story, where he posts a photo and asks readers to write their own stories.  Check out the latest awesome photo here, and then read my quick & creepy little 30-minute story below:


Just a few degrees on the diagonal from our house, there’s a keep out sign.  It’s meant to be seen, for sure; the paint is always fresh and the branches neatly trimmed.

Visitors often ask after the neighbors. With a sign like that, anyone with half an imagination knows there’s a juicy story to be told.  And it never fails; once you ask a member of our clan about the folks who maintain that sign, our voices drop and we assume the appropriately grave expression as we reply:

Oh, that’s where Larry and Ethel live.  We don’t go over there.

The persistent, clueless or morbidly curious will ask why not, despite knowing that this must, by default, be a tale of small town terror.

Well, we’ll say reluctantly, Larry and Ethel don’t like us much.

Really?  Why not?

But we’ll just smile and demur, implying some sort of non-specific, generational dispute, and our visitors will try another tack.

So, have you ever met them?

No, we’ll answer.  Never.

So how do you know they don’t like you? 

At this point, Ma will pick up the tale.

Well, our first clue was when we were walking in the woods, and Larry threw rocks at us until we raced back home. 

Then Pa adds:

And there was that time Ethel drove her pickup to the end of her driveway and sat, shotgun across her lap, watching as the kids boarded the school bus. 

My brother chimes in:

If you look across the field at their upstairs window, you can see a telescope pointed right at our house.

And I finish up:

Once, when our dog escaped, they kept her for three days and sent her back starving and dehydrated with a note warning about what would happen next time.

Our visitors study our faces, searching for a hint of exaggeration, and then politely remark on the unseasonably cold weather.

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