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“The Seven Deadly Housewarmers” by Emily Harris Adams

Gluttony was the first to pay a welcome call. I was in the kitchen sorting the dishes into cabinets when the bell rang. I opened the door to find her holding a pan of cinnamon buns. Glaze dripped onto the carpet as I invited her inside. She stayed about a half an hour, telling me about the local restaurants and grocery stores. Between the two of us, we finished the rolls. I had three. The glaze left sticky patches on my fingers, lips, and chin. We exchanged numbers and she promised to treat me to coffee sometime.

Pride came a few hours after with the HOA rules and regulations handout. Not the welcome packet. Just the rules and regulations. He also warned me against planting daffodils, calling them, “pedantic, though not forbidden.” Pride is not on the HOA board, I’ve found. However, he has won the neighborhood “Best Yard” award ten years running.

When Lust came a week later, I began to notice the pattern. It was near midnight when I answered the door. Lust was wearing a Speedo and proffering a Bikini. It dangled from his pinky finger. It was a small. I’m a medium, but from the way Lust was looking at me I am pretty sure he’d already guessed that. He told me that he and Envy were having a little hot tub party and I was invited. I declined even after he leaned in close and whispered that he could do things to me that would turn Envy green. He left the Bikini anyway.

The next day Envy came and told me she has dibs on Lust. As she turned to leave, I counted the other homes on my cul-du-sac. There are seven.

Two-weeks later, after a coffee run with Gluttony, I came back to find Greed stealing my garden gnomes. I called out to her as she sprinted away in panic. One of the gnomes slipped from her hands, smashing on the pavement outside Pride’s home. I asked Gluttony how Greed thought she could have gotten away with the theft since she lives just across the street. Gluttony shrugged as she munched on a cheese scone. We all have our blind spots, I suppose. I went inside to get a broom, but by the time I got the chance to clean up the shattered gnome, Pride had already swept his lawn pristine.

The next day, I received a violation notice from Wrath, the president of the HOA. Garden Gnomes, it seems, may only be displayed at Christmastime due to their overwhelming resemblance to Santa Claus.

I’ve yet to meet Sloth, but I know which house is his. The lawn gives it away. I’m sure it hasn’t been mowed in weeks. Wrath talks to me about it anytime I see him out-and-about with his dog. The worst, Wrath says, is that Sloth’s always late in paying his violation fees. Greed tells me that if I ever want free flowers I can always go to Sloth’s yard and clip some, because he’s too lazy to call the cops.

Part of me wonders how long I’ll have to live here before I can gather enough equity on the house for moving to make sense. Another part of me is just relieved that, strange as my new neighbors are, they are much better than the four horse ranchers who live near my sister.

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