Serial Story Prompt: If We Already Knew Everything About Everybody, Part # 3

(This story is part of an experimental Serial Story Prompt. See details at the end of this piece.)

Ellen B. Marshall
6 min readFeb 19, 2021


What Would the Neighbors Think? Photo by Ellen B. Marshall, 2021

What’s Knowable?

One thing that would disappear, if we already knew everything about everybody is the worrisome adage — What Would The Neighbors Think? Nothing describes ricochet reasoning like this little guilt-trip. In a world where we already know what Mr. & Ms. Neighbors think, there would be no point in telling a story.

Because if they had they observed me and Richard out by that construction dumpster the other day, chatting, or maybe re-kindling something we had going when we parted 50 years ago — they would already know the full story.

Here’s what this state of All-Knowing-ness would reveal.

“Richard, might you be able to spot me while I dig two pallets out of a dumpster on Limestone Street?” I had called him on the phone. It had been nearly half a century since we’d shared even this many words. I’m a recently returned expat, moved back to my hometown after a slow ricochet between the US coasts.

“Well what time did you have in mind?” He did not ask for an explanation. Maybe no need to. Our Know-Everything script means that he already gets that I’m 66, recently hit 4.4 on the osteoporosis danger scale, and have finally learned how to care for myself enough, that I’d rather not get hurt and die by freezing in a construction dumpster. But still, it was a toss-up whether to have phoned to ask for a favor at all. After all these years.

Luckily, Richard already knows too, bless his heart, that I do not think ill of him for what transpired 48 years ago.

I was fresh out of high school. He had graduated five years ahead. We had led a cave survey expedition in Central America. Traveled down and back in his Green VW bug. Slept in his pup tent the whole way. I gave him back rubs (often to make him stop talking.) It was after we’d returned that he asked me, to help him, with a very personal transition. I had not known that he was still a virgin.

If he’d known everything about me, Richard would also have known that my father and…



Ellen B. Marshall

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