No, no, I can't come out...

The smallest of things can keep you in the house, trapped, unable to function, unable to do the most basic of tasks like going to the bin right next to the back door. Setting one foot on the step is the same as bounding across the garden - that one foot feels as visible as your whole body and just as vulnerable.

Imagine trying to explain to a hardened housework enthusiast that it is impossible to empty your kitchen bin because next door are in their garden? That those three steps down to the bin are the same as a rope-bridge event and just as likely to get your adrenaline pumping.

Except, as usual, I'm overreacting. There is no drooling grisly waiting at the back door, or axe murderer or local teen gang bent on trouble. There are no B-movie monsters or small children singing. No, there is only the neighbour and her father doing their garden work.

There they are, right on the other side of the new fence, going up and down with happy, work-hard faces, doing their jobs and Being There, as close as if they were on my side of the fence and waiting for me.

What I should be doing is getting dressed in my work clothes and going out there to diminish the bonfire mountain, clip back the trees, tame the hedge, power-wash the paths, get rid of the clutter waiting for me to see it again (including the kitchen sink).

Unfortunately my work clothes are clothes I wear for work that pays, not work at home when I should really be dressed in pyjamas and slippers. The last time I did DIY or gardening I snagged my clothes on a sharp something and it made me even more wary of doing anything useful at home.

Also, let's be honest, if I do go down the back steps, even if only to the bin, next door might want to speak to me. Or might fix me with sideways looks and not speak, only think it. Or they will ignore me altogether but my mind will conjure the conversation we may have had and I'll suffer anyway.

Can anyone smell a but of over-thinking going on here? Or is that just the smell from the overflowing kitchen bin?

Perhaps I should trip out, quick as a flash and stare hard at the bin as if it mesmerises me and I am quite unable to tear away and notice anything else? And if they speak, I will look at the sky and smile, or run back in proper quick and try not to ricochet off the door.

Yes, this is a plan. I will concentrate so heavily on what I need to do that everything else will fade away, leaving me single-mindedly hoisting the enormous black bag into the bin then scurrying inside, dressing gown flapping in the winter sun and legs so fast they are a blur as the back door slams and I am safe again.


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