My neighbor was one of the kindest people I knew. I didn’t know how she did it, but I had never heard a negative word come out of her mouth. She was the one I always went to for advice and I often turned to her instead of my own mother. My mother talked trash about Janet’s yard, clothes, car, everything. I think she was jealous because the neighborhood tended to gravitate toward Janet instead of her. She liked being popular and well liked and didn’t want to be overshadowed by Janet.
Before Janet moved in, mom’s yard won gardening awards and she was noticed around our small town. Only I knew her veiled niceties were fake and garden plans were stolen from others. Years of acting classes had enabled her to learn how to emulate those around her. I had her rages late at night when she thought I was already asleep and I could see her face change in the middle of a conversation when she could tell she was losing what she wanted. She was no longer the center of our sleepy community and I could see the tension building. I knew I needed to act before she exploded. Janet beat me to it. She beat my mother to it. No one would ever know she was not nearly as nice as we thought. Janet started small so no one immediately saw her acts of sabotage until it was too late. Too late to save our house.