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An old woman opening a box | Source: Shutterstock
An old woman opening a box | Source: Shutterstock

My Sweetest Old Neighbor Helped Me Unpack & Later, I Found Her Note in the Box – It Made Me Immediately Sell the House

Prenesa Naidoo
Jun 28, 2024
08:40 A.M.

When Phoebe decides that her new chapter begins with a divorce and a new house, she finds a little house in a sleepy neighborhood. As she gets unpacking, she meets a wonderful neighbor, who has a big responsibility for Phoebe.

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When we first moved to the little house at the end of Maple Street, I was filled with hope and a sense of new beginnings. It was just my 6-year-old daughter, Lily, and I.

The exterior of a house | Source: Unsplash

The exterior of a house | Source: Unsplash

We were finally starting over after a difficult year: me going through a tough divorce with Lily's father, and Lily having to navigate life without her father living in the same house.

"It's okay, Mom," she said softly to me one night. "I don't like how Dad always shouted at us."

It was clear then that we needed to break free.

A young mother and daughter | Source: Midjourney

A young mother and daughter | Source: Midjourney

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From the moment I met Mrs. Thompson, she reminded me of my own grandmother. There was this motherly warmth to her that made me feel like moving here was the right decision.

"I'm Hazel," she said, walking up to our porch with a batch of freshly baked cookies. "I'm so glad you're moving into the neighborhood. My house is that one."

She pointed to the little house directly next to mine.

Freshly baked cookies | Source: Midjourney

Freshly baked cookies | Source: Midjourney

"And who is this little girl?" she asked, seeing Lily jump into a pile of leaves.

"This is Lily, my daughter," I said, introducing the two. "We needed a new start."

When our official moving day arrived, Mrs. Thompson insisted on coming over and helping me unpack.

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A parked truck | Source: Midjourney

A parked truck | Source: Midjourney

"No, thank you," I protested. "You're more than welcome to stay and keep me company, but I'll do all the heavy lifting."

"Nonsense, dear," she replied. "I've got plenty of energy left in these old bones," she said with a twinkle in her eye.

A smiling old woman | Source: Midjourney

A smiling old woman | Source: Midjourney

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We spent the entire afternoon together, chatting and laughing as we organized the kitchen, arranged the living room, and set up Lily's bedroom. Mrs. Thompson's company made the daunting task enjoyable, and I was grateful for her kindness.

"Mrs. Thompson," I said, feeling a mix of gratitude and guilt as the old woman set Lily's books onto her bookshelf. "You really don't have to do all of this. You've been so helpful, but I feel bad taking up your time."

A little girl's bedroom | Source: Midjourney

A little girl's bedroom | Source: Midjourney

"Oh, no, Phoebe," she replied with a wave of her hand. "I enjoy the company. And it's been too quiet here lately. I don't really get out much because I get dizzy spells sometimes. This has been good for me, too."

As evening approached, Mrs. Thompson asked me to go over to her house for dinner.

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"I'll just throw something together," she said. "Lily is with your mom, so you're going to be all alone in the new house. At least this way, I'll know that you've eaten before you go back."

An old woman at the stove | Source: Midjourney

An old woman at the stove | Source: Midjourney

I sat in her kitchen as she moved around seamlessly cutting vegetables to throw into a pot of pasta. I had never been so grateful for a stranger before.

The divorce had been hard, and when I told my mother about it, she tried to persuade me to try harder with Lily's dad, Garrett.

"Just give it another go, Phoebe," she had told me. "You'll be glad to know that you tried harder for Lily."

Two women talking | Source: Midjourney

Two women talking | Source: Midjourney

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After that, I kept the divorce to myself, only going over to my parents so that they could spend time with Lily. So, having Mrs. Thompson around gave me a soothing feeling. Something that I didn't know I needed.

As evening approached, I took my leave, and she gave me a gentle hug as she walked me out.

"If you need anything, dear, don't hesitate to ask," she said before closing the front door.

A smiling old woman | Source: Midjourney

A smiling old woman | Source: Midjourney

That night, exhausted but content, I decided to leave the last few boxes for the next day.

"That's tomorrow's problem," I sighed, getting into bed.

A close-up of a sleeping woman | Source: Midjourney

A close-up of a sleeping woman | Source: Midjourney

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I had a restful night, punctuated by dreams of the new life I had just begun. But as I walked into the living room the next morning, a cup of coffee in hand, my eyes were immediately drawn to an envelope placed on one of the remaining boxes.

It was addressed to "The New Owner."

Curiosity piqued, I opened it and unfolded a neatly written note:

A woman holding a mug | Source: Midjourney

A woman holding a mug | Source: Midjourney

Dear New Neighbor,

Welcome to your new home! I hope you find as much joy and comfort in this neighborhood as I have over the years. There is something important you should know about this house, something that I couldn't tell you in person.

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A person holding an envelope | Source: Midjourney

A person holding an envelope | Source: Midjourney

You see, the previous owner and I had a special agreement regarding a beloved pet, an exotic and high-maintenance tortoise named Sheldon, who lives in the basement.

Sheldon has been a part of this household for decades and requires specific care and attention. I had taken on the responsibility of caring for him after the previous owner passed away. I promised old Raymond that I would do it until the house gets a new owner.

A tortoise | Source: Unsplash

A tortoise | Source: Unsplash

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Unfortunately, I've become too old to continue caring for Sheldon. And I hoped that you would take on the responsibility. I've seen how happy Lily is in the house, playing in the yard, her laughter filling the air.

I didn't want to tell you in front of her and have her get excited about him. I didn't want to put you in a difficult position.

A little girl playing outside | Source: Midjourney

A little girl playing outside | Source: Midjourney

Sheldon is gentle and has been a beloved part of the household, but his care is time-consuming and requires specific knowledge and resources. As a single mother, I know you already have your hands full, and I don't want to overwhelm you during your fresh start.

Please, let me know what you'd like us to do.

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Warm regards,

Hazel Thompson

A smiling old woman | Source: Midjourney

A smiling old woman | Source: Midjourney

As I stood there, the note in my hands, I tried to process what Mrs. Thompson had written. Despite her kindness and the fascinating nature of the tortoise, I realized I couldn't take on such a responsibility.

The thought of Lily wanting to take care of the tortoise was sweet, but there was just no way I wanted to take on such a task so quickly.

A close-up of a woman | Source: Midjourney

A close-up of a woman | Source: Midjourney

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Later that day, I decided to talk to Mrs. Thompson. I walked next door and knocked gently. She opened the door, her warm smile fading slightly when she saw the note in my hand.

"Ah, you found it," she said softly.

"Mrs. Thompson, I don't know what to say. Sheldon sounds wonderful, but I don't think I can take care of him," I began. "It's just Lily and I, and we moved here to start fresh. I can't handle another responsibility, especially one so demanding."

A side profile of a woman | Source: Midjourney

A side profile of a woman | Source: Midjourney

She nodded, her eyes full of understanding and a hint of sadness.

"Of course, I understand," she said. "He's just grown on me. And did you know that in some cultures, the tortoise often represents longevity, immortality, and the cycle of life?"

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"Thank you for understanding," I said, hoping that I was doing the right thing.

A sad old woman | Source: Midjourney

A sad old woman | Source: Midjourney

"Please, Phoebe, why don't you stay for a cup of tea?" she asked.

I shook my head.

"I've got to get back, I'm going to pick up Lily soon," I said. "Do you think that you could remove the tortoise before I bring her home?"

Mrs. Thompson nodded at me.

"He'll be gone before you get back."

A close-up of a woman | Source: Midjourney

A close-up of a woman | Source: Midjourney

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I went back to the house and instead of unpacking the final boxes and getting ready to fetch my daughter, I just sat on the couch.

There was something about the way Mrs. Thompson's face fell when I told her that I didn't want the tortoise. There was a disappointment in her that I didn't understand. But it was there.

And being the people-pleasing person that I am, I didn't want to be there anymore. Suddenly the new beginning didn't feel so new. It felt different. I felt like I had already disappointed a person that I was growing to like.

A woman sitting on a couch | Source: Midjourney

A woman sitting on a couch | Source: Midjourney

The next morning, with a heavy heart but a clear understanding of what was best for Lily and me, I made the decision to sell the house and find a new place where we could start anew.

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"No pets, please," I told my realtor. "Lily and I will decide on that when she's older."

Moving out so soon after moving in was not easy, but I knew that it was the right choice for us.

As for Mrs. Thompson, I hope she could find someone to give Sheldon the care he deserved. And as for us, I was determined to find a place where Lily and I could truly start over, free from unexpected burdens.

A smiling mother and daughter duo | Source: Midjourney

A smiling mother and daughter duo | Source: Midjourney

What would you have done?

If you enjoyed this story, here's another one for you |

Husband Made Me Dye My Hair and Dress the Way He Says – I Found a Photo of the Woman He Made Me Look like in His Drawer

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When Lily's husband, Garrett, starts giving her tips for changing her look, she takes all of them, thinking that a new start will be good for her. But as time goes on and Garrett has molded her into the perfect image, she finds a photo of the woman that Garrett has changed her into. When Lily discovers who the woman is, everything changes.

From the moment I met Garrett, I knew that he was the one I wanted to be with. I was ready to spend my life with him. So, when we got married, I knew that it was going to be a good life.

A smiling couple holding their hands out | Source: Pexels

A smiling couple holding their hands out | Source: Pexels

We've been together for five years, and recently, my husband started asking me to change up my appearance.

"I just think that you'd look incredible as a redhead," he said, touching my hair. "And it will be something new, sure. But it's a new chapter of our lives, isn't it?"

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"Sure," I agreed. "Why not? We'll get some hair dye when I go shopping later."

An aisle in a supermarket | Source: Midjourney

An aisle in a supermarket | Source: Midjourney

Garrett smiled and nodded enthusiastically. I didn't know when this new fascination with red hair had come about, but I was ready for something new.

"I don't know if it's going to look good on me," I said. "But it's worth the risk."

My husband nodded again, and I couldn't figure out what he was thinking.

Read the full story here.

This work is inspired by real events and people, but it has been fictionalized for creative purposes. Names, characters, and details have been changed to protect privacy and enhance the narrative. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

The author and publisher make no claims to the accuracy of events or the portrayal of characters and are not liable for any misinterpretation. This story is provided “as is,” and any opinions expressed are those of the characters and do not reflect the views of the author or publisher.

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