THAT Neighbor (final draft)

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One hour.

Mrs. Winslow had one hour before they all came. She had one hour to set the table with her new pearly white china, boil the water for tea, make her famous scones and cucumber sandwiches, and go out to the garden and pick the perfect flowers for the table. She could certainly do this all in one hour.

Mrs. Poppy Winslow lived in an ordinary town, on an ordinary block, with ordinary people. She was humble enough to say she herself was quite ordinary.

 

The scones were in the oven and she had just finished stacking the cucumber sandwiches  into a neat little pyramid. She decided against the pyramid, for it didn’t match with the square plate it was on. She gently redesigned it to a neat square stack of sandwiches. Yes. Much better. Mrs. Winslow placed the plate on the table when there was a loud, PUFF, that came from outside. Poppy gave a soft chuckle and straightened a spoon. “Oh, don’t worry Poppy, everything is fine,” she said to herself, “When one is as old as you, hearing starts to go.” She looked at her cuckoo clock that her former husband had made. It was a rather silly looking clock. The name itself gave it away. That clock was the only thing in her house that was unordinary. But, she kept it for Mr. Winslow’s sake. Poppy gave a small sigh, remembering when he came home with that horrendous clock. He was so excited to give it to her. How could she throw it away?

Mrs. Winslow snapped out of her daydreaming and looked at the time. Forty five minutes until her friends came over. She had plenty of time left. PUFF! There it was again. Poppy stomped over to the window and poked her large nose out the curtain looking at the front street. The tidy square houses were nicely placed in a row going down the block, the sky was its usual dull blue... It felt like a normal day. Poppy shrugged and went outside to pick a neat bouquet of white daisies.

 

As she opened the door, there was a subtle smell of smoke. That was unusual. But, something Mrs. Winslow could over look. She started picking her daisies and placing them in her basket. “See, everything is perfectly ordinary on this beautifully ordinary day.”

When all a sudden, PUFF! POOF! Mrs. Winslow gave a small yelp and turned toward the sound, dropping her daisies in the process. The chimney and windows from the house across the street exploded with smoke!

“Oh heavens!” She gasped clasping her chest trying to calm her rapidly beating heart. Mrs. Winslow was about to call out for help when she looked at the house number.

308. That house.

Another neighbor opened his door to see what the fuss was about. He shook his head then saw Poppy. “It’s that damn wizard again! He keeps making a ruckus! Doesn’t he know we’re all trying to have a nice Sunday afternoon.” Poppy’s face went pale. "Of all days for him to make a ruckus! Why today?!”, she wondered.

“What is he doing in there?” She asked stepping over her now muddy daisies. The neighbor looked to see if anyone else was around, then proceeded. “I hear he’s raising a dragon.”

“What!? A- a dragon?”

The man nodded. Poppy’s face grew hot. “But it’s illegal to own a dragon in the suburbs!” The neighbor scuffed and pointed at the smoking house. “Go tell him that.” Sure enough a loud reptile-like cry came from the smoky house. “No, no, no this won’t do!” She huffed. Ever since magic came into society, wizards and witches began to pop up everywhere. It was an outrage, and she would never grow accustomed to the magic spell shops next to the grocery stores, police patrolling around in the form of birds, or pegasus rides at the park, and she would most certainly not grow accustomed to a wizard living on her block. Mrs. Winslow opened her gate and scurried across the street as fast as her little legs could take her, and marched up the stairs and knocked rapidly on the door. It swung open, smoke poured out of the house and standing in the frame was her dreadful neighbor, Soren Kileus.

Soren was a young, spontaneous, wizard who had moved into the block two years ago to attend The College of Runes and Enchantments. He looked quite frazzled and in a disarray. His clothes were tattered and he was covered head to toe in soot, not to mention strains of his hair were smoking and tiny flames sizzled across them. When he realized it was Mrs. Winslow at the door, his bright eyes widened along with his smile. “Good afternoon Mrs. Winslow! Are you having a nice Sunday?” Poppy let out a subtle groan from just looking at the young man. He was tall, thin and had a goofy looking smile as though there was no such thing as a cloudy day. Though she didn’t recall him having a chipped tooth the last time she encountered him. Soren Kileus was the very opposite of ordinary. Mrs. Winslow cleared her throat. “Mr. Kileus-” He quickly put his hand up. “Please Mrs. Winslow call me Soren.”

“Right. Mr. Kileus do you happen to have a dragon in there?” Soren started pinching out the small flames in his hair.

“Uh yes, yes I do. Could you hear him from your house?” She crossed her arms

“Honestly Mr. Kileus, I think the last house on the block can hear it.” He began to laugh. Poppy was appalled, even his laugh wasn’t normal. “Mrs. Winslow you are quite a hoot!”

“I beg your pardon? I am not an owl.” She said sharply.

“No, no you are definitely not.” Soren agreed. “I apologize for the noise Mrs. Winslow, Henry the Eighth is just really hot and is over heating, I’m trying to cool him down as we speak.” Poppy glanced in the foggy house to see buckets floating in the air carrying water to the living room then returning and heading up to the bathroom to refill. Then a loud pitiful cry came from the living room, and started shaking the whole house. Soren called out behind him, “Don’t worry little one! Daddy’s coming!”

Little?! Daddy?!

“Mr. Kileus how big it that thing?”

“Oh I think he’s just peaked ‘bout, twelve feet...” He tried to make it sound like it was no big deal, but Mrs. Winslow gasped for the tenth time. “Twelve feet?! What business do you have with a twelve foot fire breathing dragon?” Before Soren could answer, she stopped him. “No, on second thought I don’t want to know. Mr. Kileus, owning a dragon in a suburb area is illegal.”

“Yes. I know that Mrs. Winslow but he is my assignment for my Beast Taming class at The College,”

“Well then do you have a professor’s note that says you can raise a dragon in a populated area?”

“Mrs. Winslow I’m taking Henry the Eighth into class this Friday then he will be out of your hair.” There was a short silence when Soren sniffed the air and pointed to her house. “Are you cooking something?” Mrs. Winslow turned to her house, smoke was coming from it. That instant, the baby dragon cried out again and a burst of smoke shot out of the living room. A small fire started to spread across the carpet and caught onto some books.

“My scones!” Poppy shouted, running back to her house,

“Witch’s Warts not again!” Soren squealed running to put out the fires.

 

Mrs.Winslow ran straight to the oven and pulled out her charcoal black scones. She whimpered and shoved them into the trash. “That stupid boy distracted me from my duties!” Poppy looked outside at Soren’s house, smoke kept bellowing out of it. It was too alarming to ignore. What would her friends think? Lavender would find it amusing that she lived next to a wizard. Rose would scoff at the thought of it, and she knew Tulip would tell everyone how Poppy Winslow lives in an odd neighborhood with a wizard; therefore, she was odd. Poppy shook her head. It just wouldn’t do, she had to get rid of that dragon!

 

Mrs. Winslow turned to the clock, fifteen minutes?! She had fifteen minutes? Where did the time go?! Poppy ran to her bookshelf and violently searched for the book, Rules and Regulations of Magic in Society. She found the gigantic book and plopped it on the table then started flipping through the pages. There had to be a way for Mrs. Winslow to get rid of the dragon without getting the police involved.

Finally, she found the dragon category:

What to do if you find a dragon egg: Call the police, they will send a wizard to retrieve it.

What to do if you find a grown dragon: Run away, find a safe place to hide, then call the police, they will send a wizard to take care of it.

What to do if a wizard in your neighborhood is raising a dragon: Wizards are not aloud to own dragons, griffins, or unicorns in the suburbs. Call the police, they will confiscate the creature and send it to a nature reserve.

 

“Well that’s very precise.” Poppy scoffed. POOF! Mrs. Winslow went back outside, the smoke was coming out of the house more often. Poppy tapped her foot on the ground. “Oh what to do, what to do?” More neighbors came out of their houses to see what the commotion was. Then she had an idea. Poppy walked over to her next door neighbor’s. The neighbor that lived there was a young women that Poppy found a bit strange. She was too strange to be ordinary, but Poppy was desperate. “Good afternoon,” the girl turned and smiled at Poppy. “Good afternoon, Mrs. Winslow how are you?”

“Oh just dandy. Did you know Mr. Kileus has a dragon in his house?” Mrs. Winslow didn’t want to be responsible for taking the dragon away from Soren, but perhaps someone else wouldn’t mind.

“Is that what that sound is?” The women stared at the house, “Isn’t that illegal?” Poppy nodded, “Yes, very illegal.”

“Wow, how exciting!” The women said gleefully. “What? Exciting?” Poppy blinked, what kind of person was she? “Why yes, don’t you find this exciting? Not only do we have a wizard in the neighborhood but he has a dragon! This block is the most extraordinary block I’ve ever lived in! Mrs. Winslow, where are you going?” Poppy had marched off in the opposite direction to her other neighbor. She knew he agreed with her. Hopefully, she could push him to do something about this dragon.

 

But alas, the man wanted nothing to do with it, “I know it’s illegal and all but really it’s none of my business.”

“But it’s disturbing the peace!” Mrs. Winslow complained. The man shrugged, “I suppose you’re right.” Yes! “If the little beast is still making a fuss tomorrow, I’ll call the police.” Poppy tightened her small wrinkled hands into fists. “But it’s disturbing the peace right now!” The man glared at her, “If it’s bothering you so much, then you do something about it.” He slammed his door shut. Mrs. Winslow felt her face grow red. She turned and stomped back to her house. “Rotten neighbors, rotten neighborhood!” Poppy told herself. She peeked into her front window the see how much time she had. But to her dismay, the clock indicated she had five minutes. “Oooooooh no!”

Poppy spun around to see the dreadful wizard’s house. “Enough is enough!” Poppy walked out her gate and looked to the sky, to her luck there was a crow passing above her block. She began to wave her arms in large arcs, trying to grab the birds attention. It worked. The bird flew down and morphed into a man in a blue uniform. “Officer! I would like to file a complaint.” Mrs. Winslow pointed to Soren’s house. “There is a wizard raising a dragon in house 308!”

 

With no time to spare, Poppy watched from the sidewalk as the police officer rang the young wizard’s door bell. The door opened and the officer was suddenly engulfed in smoke. Soren must have been expecting Mrs. Winslow to be at the door, for when he saw the police officer the light in his eyes disappeared as did his smile.

“Greetings officer. Is there something wrong?” Poppy wanted to strangle him, Of course there was something wrong! He had a fire breathing dragon in his house! The officer tilted his head to the side, “Come now boy, let’s not act innocent here,” He sniffed the smoke coming from the house. “You’ve got a Wyvern in there eh?” Soren gave a slight nod, but began to ramble, “He’s very small Sir, he’s my assignment, and I’ll be taking him to class on Friday. Then The College is going to take care of him. I promise he’s harmless,” The officer put his hand up, “You are a wizard. You know that mystical creatures are dangerous and there are restrictions on magic for a reason,”

Poppy watched the officer scold Soren. Then, the two went inside the house. Mrs. Winslow smiled with triumph, but, quickly melted when a small bus approached. It parked right in front of her house. No! Poppy’s stomach dropped. They were here!

 

Three elderly women dressed in their nice Sunday attire wobbled out of the vehicle. “Thank you George!” Lavender waved at the driver. “We’ll need you to pick us up at 5:00,” Rose fastened her hat, “Don’t be late.” Tulip added. The small bus drove off. Lavender chortled when she saw Poppy. “Hello Poppy, We are fashionably early!” Lavender was a happy women. Poppy would have never been friends with her if she wasn’t Rose’s cousin. “Ladies! I see that. Well let us head inside, there is tea and cucumber sandwiches waiting for us.”

Suddenly, right on dreadful cue, the officer came out with a long chain leash and at the end was a crying, red baby dragon snorting smoke.

 

The man pulled the small beast through the door and onto the street. Soren followed close behind. “Officer I know it’s illegal to raise mystical creatures, I know I have broken the law, I take full responsibility and accept the consequences, But, please let me keep Henry the Eighth for five more days. Just five.”

“What is this?” Tulip squinted her eyes and glared through her spectacles. Poppy moved in front of the three, spreading her arms. “Nothing, nothing. Let’s go inside!”

“Are my eyes deceiving me or is that a dragon?” Rose stepped away from Poppy’s waving hands to take a better look. “It’s your eyes, Rose, you are very old. Come, the sandwiches are getting soggy,” She tried to pull the three women’s attention away from Kileus‘s house but failed. “Why, It is a dragon Rose!” Lavender pointed toward Henry the Eighth.

“Is that a wizard?”

“It is! Poppy has a wizard living on her block!” The three slowly turned their noses at Mrs. Winslow. Tulip crossed her arms. “So, Poppy, you’ve lived in the same neighborhood as a wizard and you never told us?” Mrs. Winslow straightened the wrinkles on her sleeves. She didn’t know what to say, but Tulip spoke first, “That, is sensational!”

“Pardon me?” Poppy felt like she just had been slapped in the face. “It’s very fascinating.” The three old women stared at the wizard’s house. Murmuring about the size of the dragon, the smoke coming from the house, and all the strange yet magical things in his yard. Poppy began to watch too, as Soren was trying to bribe the police officer. “I’ll give you two hundred coins, three magic herbs and a breath mint.” Soren began to search in his peculiarly deep pockets. But the officer gave him a withering stare. “Bribing an official is illegal, boy. I suggest you take your hands out of your pockets.”

“Oh my,” Rose whispered to Poppy, “this is exciting.” Poppy didn’t respond for she was to busy trying to fight back this strange, achey, guilty feelings that had started to form in her chest. She kept watching as Soren tried to plead with the officer when four huge Cape Vultures circled around the house. When they finally landed, they shifted into four tall men wearing the same uniform as the officer holding onto the squirming dragon.

 

They strapped Henry the Eighth into a chain net, then the four Vulture men went to each corner of the chained beast and morphed back to their bird forms.

“Please officers, Henry is just a baby. He needs to be with a parent,” Soren tried to explain. Henry the Eighth called out to Soren with a small coo.

The four vultures pushed off the ground with such force, a gust of wind blew Lavender’s hat off. Poppy and her friends stared at the sky as they carried away the red dragon. They went further and further away until Henry the Eighth looked like a red balloon drifting away, until he was gone.

The officer walked back to Soren and pulled out a pen and a note pad and began to scribble. “We will be in touch with you shortly regarding where the Wyvern will be placed.” He handed Soren the ticket. “You have had a good record thus far so your fine will not be too high.” Soren looked very dismal as he took the piece of paper. Though he was taller than the officer, it seemed he had shrunk three feet.

 

Before the police officer left, he nodded towards Mrs. Winslow then flew off. The three women watched in awe as the crow flapped away, but Poppy’s eyes never left Soren. With his head held slow, he turned and walked back into his smoky, smelly, half burnt house and closed the door.

 

The rest of the evening was terrible. The whole time Lavender, Rose, and Tulip kept gossiping about the affair that had occurred that day and how glorious it was. Poppy didn’t say anything. She couldn’t help but think about what she had done. The way Soren pleaded for them not to take Henry the Eighth away, and the way Henry the Eighth cried out for Soren. She never knew a dragon could have a deep bond with a human. She realized that she took the boy’s dragon away for nothing. Her friends thought it was fascinating! Since when were they so accepting? That night Poppy lied in her bed thinking those thoughts. She remembered Soren’s face when he opened the door to the police officer, and when they took Henry the Eighth away. “He probably hates me.” She sighed turning onto her side. “But since when do you care what people think of you?” Mrs. Winslow questioned, but still, there was a stinging feeling every time she thought about what she did.

Poppy closed her eyes and began to drift off to sleep. But before she dreamt of gardens and her late husband, she decided that tomorrow she would make scones and a pot of tea and take them over to Soren. He might not want to see her, which she would completely understand. After all, she cost him a good grade. And if nothing else, her conscience would be cleared, at least she would have tried.