Standing Room Only

A world of short stories

The Neighbor

I always wanted to be just like my neighbor. Until the day I didn’t. I had always looked up to Fred when he was living next door. He was always helping out the neighbors – mowing lawns, making dinners, walking dogs, doing whatever needed to be done to help. The fact he was now sitting in jail surprised everyone on the street. 

It all started when the school year ended. I had gotten out of school unexpectedly and I think the early release is what ended up tripping up Fred. It’s what ended up getting him caught. I turned the corner onto my street and saw Fred rounding the corner to my backyard. Since I didn’t have any pets and no one was home, I didn’t know why Fred would ever have a reason to head toward my backyard. Little did he know, my parents had just installed cameras because small items around the house and backyard had recently started going missing. None of them were expensive and none of them really meant much, but it was the fact items were often missing and returned. Missing and returned to a completely different room or area. 

Now I was wondering if Fred had anything to do with it. And as I turned on the camera app, I saw Fred casually wandering around our living room eating the chips my dad had just bought the night before. I felt the heat rise in my face. Not entirely because he was inside our house – I think in the back of my mind I had suspected it was Fred, he was just knew too much – but I was angry because he was eating my favorite chips. The chips I hadn’t even been able to open. But before I could call the police or my parents, Fred started changing in front of my eyes. I stood on the sidewalk, transfixed and unable to move. Fred’s entire body contorted to the point he looked exactly like my father. 

He must have heard my mother pulling into the driveway because he barely transformed in time for her to walk through the front door. The terror seeped into my bones as I watched my mother kiss Fred hello and continue into the kitchen to set her purse. My mouth dropped open as he called something down the hall to my mother and transform back to Fred before sneaking out the front door. When Fred caught sight of me with my jaw on the sidewalk and phone in my hand, I knew I was in trouble, I just didn’t know how much.  

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