In honor of the 500-follower milestone on Twitter, here’s free writing to enjoy. Not all my followers are speculative fiction fans, so this piece mostly isn’t.

It was an odd city street: regal, mismatched houses on lots so narrow as to strangle the driveways elbowed in between. Cars packed one side, leaving barely enough room for two-way traffic to careen by. Life teemed everywhere from the material evidence of dense human habitation to joggers and their four-legged family to tree, flowers, and weeds choking out the remaining space. One could argue it as city. One could argue it as suburb.

No one claimed it was rural.

Cracked sidewalks yielded to canted concrete steps then to wooden stairs with chipping paint that ended on matching porches, where midges swarmed twice a year when the Lake hit its magic temperature.

Although none of the houses looked the same, all the rented ones shared qualities inside: wooden floorboards with inexplicable, dirt-crusted gaps. White trim on molding, door frames, window frames, and built-in china cabinets so thick with “fresh” coats of paint between tenants as to render moving parts nigh unusable. Aluminum-framed, vacuum-sealed windows shared lighting duties with wood-framed glass and decayed counterweights in spaces meant to render electricity superfluous.

And, really, one is happier not checking whether it’s a fuse box or a circuit breaker. Don’t look at the wiring.

Universally, the homes had spacious, airy kitchens with a mish-mash of new and dying appliances. (Some inventively modified by ambitious college students with no regard for things like electrical code.)

These homes had thresholds ripped out annually or biannually, but they sprang up again fast, aided by the luscious surroundings, the steady, old materials, and their occupants’ sense of pride and independence.

City or suburb, the place had community.

And that could be dangerous.