The decision to paint the door green was not spur-of-the-moment. It’d begun when she’d moved to a new neighbourhood, the kind where people craned their necks to see you over the fence but wouldn’t speak with you until there was a need. It was the kind of street where people would assess you, then rush indoors and begin gossiping. If they didn’t chatter, they’d drip-feed information to everyone else with text messages and emails, hushed tones through car windows and over outdoor-cooking served on paper plates.
It was a far cry from her old place, where people had all but packed themselves into the new house to unpack, and baked goods lined the kitchen benches.
Now, the door stood out, violently against the soft white of the house, tacky door-knocker in a gleaming silver dead-centre. This was a street with sensible gray and white doors, or if someone was very adventurous, blue. Navy, of course, the better to offset the house tones and complement the houses on either side.
Already the neighbours had begun to chatter; she could see it as she cleared her mail and took delivery of the new kitchen appliances. Across the street she could see curtains twitching, and two different people kept darting out of their houses to look again, as if that would change the colour of the door.
After a few days, the dam broke. She’d known it was coming, and baked cookies especially. Luckily, the kitchen was notably close to the door, and as she opened it she could almost feel the scent of fresh-baked cookies drifting out to her neighbour, who sniffed appreciatively, albeit tentatively. That, combined with a cup of coffee, proved irresistible.
The news spread quickly that their odd neighbour with the green door was an excellent baker, and knew her way around a coffee machine. People began to drop in every day, for coffee and cake, for tea and tarts.
As she closed the door after her latest visitor, she brushed away a few flakes of chipping green paint and cleared the table. The plan had worked – making people so keen to complain that they hadn’t given much thought to beyond the surface, then reeling them in with something they liked.
Really, it worked all around. She got a steady group of companions; they got a steady supply of baking.
Perfect practice for the bakery/cafe she intended to open.