You sat yourself comfortably on your knees. The buzz in the air from the insects rang high and the occasional jangling of metal tags could be heard from behind you. It was a nice day out in your backyard. You were about to pull out some weeds that have started to grow in patches where you were planing to place a flowerbed in.
It has been a month since you you’ve moved into your new home. It was an old thing; just outside of Midnight City. It was a simple two-story house made of wood and brick. From what the realtor told you the house was built in the 1920s and changed very little just before it was placed on the market. You probably only got a good price on it because unlike the urban and suburban homes inside the nearby city. The placement of the house was uncomfortably isolating.
It was nestled deep within the surrounding forest--off to the side of the highway. Not a very ideal place to call home for a start-up couple, aging retirees, or a family. But your fine with that. You’ve always been fine with being alone. Even at a young age, you started to learn how to take care of yourself surprisingly very well. Especially when there were no adults around to look after you.
But enough about the past. Your living in the present and your future is looking pretty good. Especially that your living the life you always wanted. You’ve just got a decent paying job at one of the high-class jewelry stores in Midnight City. And all you have to do is sell gems and stones to paying customers! Well…that’s not all you do per-say. You’re a geologist who specializes in a career of gemology. You test, observe, and verify of how much a gem or stone costs and most importantly, if the gem or stone is real. It takes a good eye, years of training, and apprenticeship to be a certified gemologist.
“Yip! Yip! Yip!”
You stop to look up from your
thoughts work and look behind you. It’s your dog Silas, his rolling his tiny little body in the overgrown grass trying to get your attention. You smile to this, you got Silas ever since you started college. And from there on you two have been inseparable. He’s gotten really old since then and it shows with the silver flakes that have spread over his snout and down his back. Which makes you laugh a bit because it looks kinda funny on a tiny fluffy black dog. He looks like he just swallowed a comically large amount of milk and splattered it all over himself.
You imagine if your little dog could have opposable thumbs, he would try to do that. With all of the many ways he tries to get your attention. You turn you head back to the task at hand and start to tug away at those pesky weeds. What should you put in this flower bed? Periwinkle? Maybe…or maybe not. They come in so many types. And all of them looks so beautiful. You swear that every time you go into a garden house to shop. You can’t help but just stare at all of the types of flowers and plants shown on display.
Oh what about Touch-me-Nots? Mhm…but aren’t they a very sensitive type of plant? What if Silas tries to run through them? Maybe you should look for something small and sweet for now.
You sigh in defeat as your indecisiveness stumps you at the moment. You turn around, now facing Silas, to start stretching your back and arms. “Well, what do you think Silas? What kind of flowers do you think we should put in our flowerbed? So far what I’ve got in mind left are Marigolds and Red Geraniums. If we can’t place them together in here. I’m planning on either extending the flowerbed in the backyard. Or to plant one group of flowers here and the other out in the front yard.”
Silas sits back upright and starts to pant at you.
You hear your spine popping into place as you start to lean-and-pose onto your right and left sides.
“Yeah, your right, having both sounds pretty good. Plus expanding the flower bed in the backyard here doesn’t sound to shabby either. Maybe I’ll make a small greenhouse someday? Thanks for helping me out old ma-"
Someone started to laugh at this. At first you thought that maybe, just maybe, there was a chance that the laughter was coming from you. Because you always found it entertaining just keeping up a conversation with your dog knowing full well, he couldn’t really respond back. But what made it so terrifying was, in that very moment, the origin of the laughter was coming from behind you.
You turn around quickly to see who it was. But all you could see was your empty flowerbed and the cobblestone wall that lay behind it. Your heart started to beat very fast. Could it be coming from the woods? Your backyard was just at the cusp of the surrounding forest. Only a small clearing and the cobblestone walls that wrapped around from the front to the back of your house were all that separated the wilderness from approaching any further.
Silas noticing your uncomfortable body language and quickly got up, he trotted over to your side and started to sniff at the air and flicked his ears side-to-side. The laughter was quickly gone--just as it announced itself. Could it be that you were just hearing things? No…you were positive that you heard someone.
But how? So far as you know you’re the only person living in this area.
You knew it was a stupid idea. You should have just picked up your dog, walked back inside the house, and lock the doors. But before you knew it, the words just fumbled right out of your mouth.
“Hello? Is there anybody out there?” you call out in a shaky voice.
You waited for a minute. No answer. Another minute passes by. Still no answer.
Okay then…its time to go. If there was a person out there, they had their chance.
You were leaning down onto your left to pick up Silas until he started to bark loudly and do his alert dance. This startled you for the moment, but quickly you thought little of it. “Silas calm down little buddy there is no one out there. You’re probably smelling a bird or a wild animal. Wild animals can make sounds of all kinds". You try to 'shoosh' him, "Calm down sweetie lets get back inside and—”
But Silas refused to hear you out as he began to run off towards the backyard’s gate. That lead to the outside of the cobblestone walls towards the woods.
Hah dumb dog the power of man-made inventions will stop your madness!
It was a metal open spaced gate. And with the power of pure will and his tiny body frame. You were helpless in the fact that Silas slipped right through the metal bars like butter and rushed behind the cobblestone walls.
“SILAS NO! COME BACK!!” you yell out in worry. You took a couple steps towards the gate in haste hoping to catch your little companion in time. However, what stopped you in your tracks was a trill-like voice that came from behind the cobblestone wall. The wall that lay just behind where you were weeding out your flowerbed.
“AAAAAAHH HELP I’M BEING ATTA—Oh wait your just a little doggy. Well hello there puppy-dog!”
At first you could hear Silas grunting and growling. A sound he usually made when he wanted to play tug-of-war with you. But knowing Silas he was trying to look intimidating to whoever was beyond the wall.
“Now hold on boy-o! I’m not here to harm yer miss! I’m just curious about the new neighbor! See nothin’ in my hands—friends?” responded the cheery voice to your dog.
You started to cautiously move towards the wall where the sound came from. The wall itself reached just below your shoulders. So, when you finally reached the wall and looked over it. You were not expecting to see a…man? He was splayed out on the ground with your dog on his chest. Silas seems to have forgiven the stranger as he kept licking furiously at his face. Which in turn made the man giggle.
“Ohoho stop that you! Your too cute for yer own good! What a deadly guard dog you are!” the strange man said as he slowly pushed himself into a seated position. He carefully moving his arms to wrap around Silas and cradled him close to his chest. The stranger turned his attention back to you when he finally noticed that someone was watching this unfold.
He lifted up Silas into the air towards you with a cheeky grin on his face. “I believe that this lil' monkey is yours ma’m?”
“Yes, he is indeed sir and I would greatly appreciate it if you would return him to me.” You replied back curtly.
The man nodded and got up from his spot and walked towards you. As you observed him you took notice of his short stature. You thought he could have reached the height of your waist.
“Here you go ma’m! One adorably cute puppy dog!” the stranger proclaimed as he handed back your dog to you. You give him a quick 'thank you' as you reached out and plucked Silas from his hands. And before you knew it your little black dog was back in your arms. Silas panted and looked up to you seeming to ask with his eyes, ‘What are you looking at? I just found a new friend. Don’t you think he is neat?’
You look back at the stranger no…your neighbor. You remembered him saying just that a few minutes ago; telling your dog that he was your neighbor. Specifically, that YOU were the new neighbor and not the other way around.
He seemed to take the cue that you were going to start asking questions. The little man quickly turned around and picked up something off the ground. It was a purple hat. He placed it on top his head. He turned back around again to face you with a tip of his hat which was shortly then accompanied with a wink.
“I think we started off on the wrong foot here neighbor. So, I’ll introduce myself to ya! I’m Clover and I’m your next-door neighbor from across this here forest!” He pointed in a exaggerated motion. Towards of course...the woods.
“I apologize for scaring you miss”, he said casting his green eyes down to the ground—bowler hat now between his fingers. “I was just strolling around and I heard some voices carry on through the wind. At first, I thought my ears were playing a joke on me. Cause we haven’t had a neighbor in such a long time. But low and behold what do my eyes see as I round the corner? I saw you lass! Chattering away with your little dog, gardening and such. You were in such high spirits I didn’t want to bother you.”
You raise a brow to this suspiciously and shift your body stance so that your left shoulder was facing him. “And you in turn thought it was a good idea to not respond back to me when I called out? Do you know how terrified I was knowing that someone could be watching me? And…did you say we? Are there more of you?”
You see him give out a nervous laugh under his breath before speaking up. “Like I said ma’m its been a real long time since I’ve seen anybody out here. So, I got very interested! I guess I just froze when you caught me laughing hard at your act with your doggy. As for the “we” part, there are a couple more of us. We live in the same house.”
“Hmm…and you say that you live in a house on the other side of these woods?” You nodded towards the forest behind the man.
“Yep!” Clover said with a chirp.
“And you live together? Like in a…commune?” you ask him wearily.
“Oh no ma’m were not a cult or nothing. We’re just a group of friends who live in the same house. We work together at the same job.”
“Oh, okay then, I suppose that I get it now. Do they know that I live here?”
Clover hums thinking about your question and shakes his head. “No, I don’t think so. So far, I think I’m the only one who knows about you being out here. Maybe that is a good thing.”
“What?” you said, “What’s that last part? I don’t think I heard you correctly. I think you were mumbling something a little bit back there.”
“Oh?”, Clover perks up to this and waves your question off, “Its nothing! I was just thinking about how the others would be so delighted to hear the good news about a new neighbor! By the way—”
Clover tugs back on his left sleeve of his suit. He wanted to check the current time.
A suit? Why is he wearing such a nice suit. Before you could even ask why. Clover jumped slightly into the air in surprise as he looked down at his watch. “Holy mother of Mary! Well you look at that?! It almost five minutes till dinner! And you know what they say about dinner miss?”
“Its just (Y/N) Mr. Clover. No need for miss or misses. Just they and them.” You ask him politely before he could finish.
Clover nodded to this “Ah my deepest apologies (Y/N) I don’t mean to offend.”
“None taken please continue sir.”
“Thank you (Y/N). Now, where was I?” Clover says rubbing his chin in thought.
You lean forward on the cobblestone wall eyeing Clover with a small smile. “I believe you were going to tell me about what others say about dinner mister Clover?”
Clover snaps his fingers and beams up at you with finger guns. “Yes of course! They say…What’s cookin good lookin?”
You pause for a moment to bask in the warm glow of that god-awful pun. Was he seriously trying to make a pass at you? After everything that just happened. How lucky did this guy think he was?
But you kept that small smile on your face as you decided to place your dog back on the ground near you. You leaned forward on the cobblestone fence, hands gripping the top of the weathered wall. And used the tips of your toes to give you just enough traction and leverage; you were almost nose to nose with Clover.
He seemed pretty proud of himself as he looked expectantly towards you. Smile wide, freckled cheeks warming up to nice shade of pink. He was even giving you a really nice love-struck look. What a predictable dork.
You reached one of your hands down to the side of his face and gently cusp it before tilting his chin upward towards you. “Mister Clover?” you politely asked him.
Clover sighed and looked at you with dopey eyes. “Yes dear (Y/N)?”
“Your going to be late for dinner.” You whisper back to him with a smirk on your face.
Clover’s eyes went wide, and his lopsided smile stretched out into a thin line. “Oh no…"
“Oh no indeed sir. You better hurry before your friends start to wonder where you’ve wondered off to.” You said as you now slide back up-and-over to the inside of the garden wall. But not before gently patting Clover’s face in pity. You turned around and started to head back towards your back porch.
“Come on Silas its about time we get back inside. I’m thinking of making us some chicken tonight. What do you think?”
“Yip! Yip! Yip!”
“Yeah me too.”
You didn’t really care to look back behind you. To see if your neighbor Clover left in hurry. No, you were pretty sure by the sound he made just by scurrying away. But what you did miss from him as he stumbled away...was the way he held the side of his cheek. All rosy and pink where you placed your hand on him. And oh how he smiled ear to ear just thinking about how long it would take for him to have you swooning over him.
Not that he didn’t mind the idea of him swooning over you. Its been quite some time since its been the other way around and at this point, he’s starting to like the thought of it. In the end, Clover knows that he isn’t going to be late for dinner somehow. He’ll always end up there right on time. He’s just lucky like that.
And how lucky was he to meet such a charming neighbor? He just couldn’t wait to tell everyone at Felt Manor about them!