I never knew the neighbors.

I couldn’t see their faces, hear their voices, or say their names. But they were there. The lights in the windows would turn on every morning and turn off every night. They looked like the candles on my ninth birthday cake, glowing like little beacons in the dim dawn. And their car, a red truck that sat in their driveway on weekdays, would disappear every weekend.

Sometimes I would watch through the window, determined to catch even a glimpse of them. But I never did. Even when I would press my ear to the wall and wait for footsteps before peeking through the blue curtains, nobody was ever there. Sometimes I would go back to drawing or building with blocks, but other times I would cry, hug my teddy bear, and huddle under the blankets before falling asleep. And the next morning, the cycle would start all over again.

My parents told me I was seeing things; that house had been abandoned since before we moved in. Nobody in their right mind would buy it, they said, always so sure they were right. But somebody did buy it. I know they did. Because the lights in the windows turned on every morning. And the car would disappear and return like clockwork every weekend.

There wasn’t a mailbox out front. We had a mailbox. It was white and rusting on a wooden post with a squeaky, red flag the mailman pulled up whenever he put something in it. And our last name was scrawled across the side in black marker; “Capewell.”

But the neighbors didn’t have one. So I never learned their last name.

Maybe the people in the house across the street wanted to stay strangers, but I didn’t want that.

I needed to know the neighbors.

Artie Kuyper is an openly trans writer who specializes in ghost stories and other horror tales.

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Every Day Fiction