Falling for my Neighbor

By: Lila Younger

I step back from the door and Vanessa walks through the door. I gesture towards the living room, and she heads for it. Jamie is watching her curiously, but at least she isn’t crying like she did for some of the other neighbors. I take it as a good sign.

The living room is big, and my furniture hardly fills up the space. The house is in one of the nicest parts of town, so there’s plenty of square footage. I dislike it though because the house feels too big for just Jamie and I. Stuff like the right location and a grand house mattered to my father more than it ever did to me.

“I’ve only got water for you. I haven’t had time to hit up the store yet.”

“Water’s fine,” Vanessa says quickly.

Jamie wiggles, and I put her down onto the floor. I expect her to head straight to her blocks, but instead she goes towards Vanessa and pulls herself up using Vanessa’s knees. I can’t believe it. I didn’t think my daughter would take to Vanessa so quickly.

I head into the kitchen and then I remember that I haven’t even unpacked the glasses yet, so I spend a minute moving boxes until I find the one with the cups. I clean out two, fill them up with water from the fridge, and walk back into the living room.

Vanessa has Jamie on her lap, and they’re playing patty cake together. There’s a big smile on Jamie’s face, one that I haven’t seen in a while, and Vanessa’s completely concentrated on her.

The afternoon sun shines through the window, illuminating the gold in both of their hair. For a moment I could even believe that it was a picture of mother and daughter, they looked so at peace together. When the rhyme finishes, Jamie leans in to Vanessa, drawing comfort from her. And Vanessa- she looks so at peace with her arms around my daughter, so maternal, that I feel my need for her sucker punch me in the gut.

Because this is what Jamie deserves, someone who would love her as much as I do, care for her wellbeing as much as I would. A possessive desire streaks through me, stronger than anything I ever felt for my ex-wife.

But for Vanessa, there’s much more than just physical desire. Her personality, her whole person is so different from the conniving, polished woman that Jamie’s mother was. Vanessa is so gentle, so open and real that I couldn’t help but feel a connection. I want her for myself. I need her to be mine.

The urge I feel is like nothing else. I was sure that after my divorce, I wouldn’t even want a one night stand for a long, long time. But Vanessa’s different. With her, I feel like there’s a future.

I’m going to claim her for myself. It’s only a matter of when.


When I first agreed to babysit for Macon, I thought that the best part of the job would be to get to see and talk to him almost every day. He’s thoughtful, kind, funny- and a perfect dad to Jamie. I can really see how much she means to him, and how much he does for her when I show up before he leaves for work. Jamie never wants to let go of her daddy, and I don’t blame her.

What I didn’t expect was how much I would attach to baby Jamie too. She’s such an easy baby, and our time together is never boring for me. I love watching her explore her new house (which, as the daughter of a real estate agent, I can safely say is really expensive and beautiful), the way she scrunches her forehead when she tries to figure out how to work my phone, her cautious steps as she cruises down the hallway.

I’ve always loved kids, ever since I got my first baby doll at three years old. I carried that thing around with me everywhere, my mom told me. I was always obsessed with babies. I begged my mom for a baby sibling to take care of too. And when I was old enough to babysit, I jumped at every chance to do it. I don’t know why, but something in my heart always had me looking out for the younger ones in my neighborhood, to swoop in when someone got hurt.

Jamie and I settle into a routine very quickly. We read together a bit, and then she gets her first nap. During that time, I make our lunch, and unpack a bit around the house. At first Macon didn’t want me to do that extra work, but I told him that I had nothing else to do. My mom would have preferred if I had picked up even a few online classes, but I didn’t want to waste money when I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to go to college.

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