Writing Prompt: Dependence

green flat lichen on tree bark
When algae and a fungus depend on each other, they become a whole new organism: lichen. Credit: me

The prompt was random, with 30 minutes to write this time, so here’s my take on it. Not fiction this week.


I knew when I decided to move to a rural town with fewer than a thousand residents that I’d be entering a new world of dependencies. Most people think of rural folk as rugged individuals who don’t need nuthin’ from nobody.

Maybe if I were 40 years younger and could, or wanted to, drive a tractor, wield a chainsaw, shoot and grow my own food, crawl to a doctor, or set my own broken bones and stitch my own cut jaw.

But that ain’t me.

We have one “close” neighbor. Meaning we can see their house through the trees but can’t assume they’d hear us scream. A far cry from the city, where I had to endure one neighbor shouting in Albanian from inside his house. Where every Sunday morning nice weather brought another neighbor outside to make her phone calls. Or the dachshund who barked at every moving molecule within a mile radius.

We were nervous about our neighbors when we moved out here. Would they mind two women living next door?

We bonded when I drove one to the hospital to pick up his partner’s car—he’d been sent on to another hospital for an appendectomy. I’d wondered if the two men were a couple, but hadn’t been sure. They thanked us with lunch once the surgery healed. We now know we can call on them for anything, and they know they can do likewise.

That lifts a huge burden off us all. But it’s not unusual I’ve come to learn. It’s normal.

And as much as I wanted to keep politics out of this, it’s a moose in the room around here. I know I’ve spent money supporting a business run by a Trump supporter. They likely know they are providing a service to someone whom the U.S. Supreme Court has said they could refuse service.

Maybe I’m lucky that I live in a small town not filled with small minds. It’s not lost on me that when I lived crammed in the city, I could more easily ignore my neighbors than I can out here where I can’t even see their houses.

In the city, you might be dependent on others, but you don’t need to acknowledge it. Sure, I thanked the guy who snow-blowed my sidewalk, even gave him gas money. But I didn’t know his name. To be honest, through the hat and coat, I’m not sure I recognized him.

Out here, where I fled to be alone with nature, I’ve found a community I longed for but hadn’t believed existed. There are characters, people full of themselves, who don’t see reality quite the way I do and vote accordingly. But in the end, we know we only have each other, and that works.

Maybe if more people across our nation took the time to get to know their neighbors, to go ahead and provide services or support businesses of those they don’t agree with, we might find that we actually can get along.

I’m just not depending on that happening anytime soon.



  1. We might all be better off if we lived where there were varieties of options, along with a mutual sense of being interdependent communities. Demonizing the “others” can only thrive in “bubbles” where everyone thinks the same. (I plead guilty to being a “bubble” inhabiter, but not, I hope, a demonizer.)

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