Three men moved into the flat on the other side of the landing. They seemed a friendly bunch and would always greet me with smiles and loud helloes when we squeezed by one another on the narrow staircase. One of the three men was divorced and had a small daughter who would come to visit him. At first it seemed that the father and daughter had a special relationship. I could hear her calling ‘Daddy’ excitedly and his voice responding in warm, yet measured tones. I would watch through the window as she ran round the small lawn at the back and he stood there smiling proudly in his rolled-up shirtsleeves. But over the weeks I noticed his voice becoming harsher and more impatient. When he wanted her to come back into the house, he would take her hand and tug it roughly. I began to wonder if he was abusing her. It was as if he could sense my suspicions, for he would glare at me and say nothing whenever our paths crossed. Now the three men would shove by me on the stairs. They were always laughing at some joke that only they understood, but which I was sure was obscene.
Ian Seed is editor of www.shadowtrain.com. Publications include Sleeping with the Ice Cream Vendor (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2012), Threadbare Fables (where "New Neighbours" first appeared; Like This Press, 2012), Shifting Registers (Shearsman, 2011), and a translation from the Italian of Ivano Fermini, the straw which comes apart (Oystercatcher Press, 2010). He is currently working on a full-length collection of prose poems.