People living on corners survive longer in our town. It’s as if they have two sides to hang onto when it comes to life, not just the one front fence.
Mr S is out on his corner each morning transferring his car from the garage to the roadside, then he’s back outside in the evening to bring it in again. For years I watched him get his car ready for the business of living: taking kids to school, popping to the shops, the cinema on Friday night, the tip on Saturdays. Now, it goes only as far as the kerb, but the routine is a sign of life. An octogenarian hanging in there.
Diagonally opposite, Mrs T on her corner has Egyptian motifs on tiles across her verandah and an exotic Z as the first initial in her name. There must be a story there dating from between the wars – and she’s living it still behind those cloudy eyes.
But up and down the street away from the corners there are new couples in old houses. Recently arrived Sunday neighbours live behind the roar of a lawnmower. They do not wonder who will move into the street now the ambulance is gone. The man from next door no longer needs his false teeth, left beside the sink. The weeds are already sneaking in; he will turn in his grave. Fallen camellia petals are bruised mulch beneath the real estate agent’s feet.
There is a house on a corner advertised in the Property Guide. It’s on the other side of town. I think we would be better off living there, I say, my emphasis on the word living. But I’m told, Don’t be ridiculous. I’m told to come outside and sit a while. Scant children’s voices are on the breeze – an echo from the past or from further down the street, it’s difficult to be sure. Petals snow on our shoulders, blushing white blossoms from the apple tree. It is the last to bloom as always. To everything its season?