The Neighbour

Part 5

She wakes up sad and stiffy from the cold. Morning sets in and through the trees the red glow of daylight are visible. Grandma’s house looks like a fairytale. The sun climbs steadily higher and higher. The forest awakens again in all its glory. The birds are singing, and, on the ground, the animals return to their hole. As the wind is up the cocoon swings back and forth. She gazes at her grandmother’s house. It is quiet and she does not understand why Grandma is nowhere to be seen. As if it is not enough, she feels that fatigue is taking its toll and that her throat is hurting. Gloomy thoughts take the upper hand, and she is angry at herself because she did not listen to Trip. No one can find her here and she closes her eyes.

The spider reappears and rubs in his legs. The long night made him hungry, but the prospect of a tasty meal that is waiting for him makes him happy. His attention is drawn to something that is flying above his prey. He does not take any risks and runs quickly towards it. But then he sees the birds dive to his prey and then he lands on the edge of a crack.

“Kraa …., Kraa …,” Fleurtje hears above her head. She opens her eyes and sees Bongo sitting.

Again, he screams “Kraa…, kraa….,” And flaps his wings a few times. Then he makes a jump and lands on Fleur’s head. Immediately he starts biting the wires with his sharp beak. There is no time to waste and he tugs at the wires roughly. Fleurtje doesn’t like it, but she bravely tolerates it. Bongo is unstoppable and in the corner of his eye, he sees the spider approaches. Slowly but surely the sticky threads come off. That gives him courage and starts to work even faster and faster because he knows that he has no time to waste.

Slowly but surely, Fleurtje feels that her body is coming out of the cocoon again and in her mind, she sees her wheelchair under her. For a moment, a shiver runs through her when she ponders what can happen if she falls. That will be quite a blow. I hope I survive that; she thinks.

The spider shouts at Bongo that he must stay away and approaches him with anger. Bongo doesn’t look up and fights for the life of Fleurtje. He certainly doesn’t intend to give up. The spider jumps on top of his back and Bongo bites on the last piece of the web.

Despite her fear of falling, that doesn’t happen. here and there are still some of the sticky threads around her and slowly she sinks down.

Bongo must use all his power to shake off the spider from his back. Then he gets hold of him and swings him through the air. 

The spider falls unhappily on his legs and it seems that he hurt his legs. Awkwardly he walks away.

Fleurtje is now stuck to a stump and Bongo flies towards her. He spreads his wings and grabs her with his legs and pulls her free form the sticky threads. Gently he lets her land on the ground. She opens her eyes and is delighted to see Trip and Wappert, who wrap her in a warm blanket.

she wants to thank them, but her throat hurts so much.

‘Relax,’ Wappert shouts. ‘Just stay comfortable. We’ll take care of you.’

She nods. For a moment she hopes to see Corn but in vain. Probably he is still sleeping, otherwise, he would be here, she thinks.

Suddenly she starts to cough violently and one of the animals comes to bring her half a nutshell of water. She drinks a little but also spits it out immediately. A lot of mucus is released and Wappert is anxiously standing next to her. Fleurtje wants to say something to him, but he doesn’t understand what she wants to say. Then she falls asleep just like that and Wappert feels her forehead, which is quite glowing.

‘She has a fever, she may have pneumonia. We need to get her out of here quickly,’ says Trip.

They take her and carefully place her on a flat cart. Wappert harnesses the dogs and adduce them himself. As usual Trip is walking next to Cherry and shouts, ‘Come Cherry, you are the best. Let’s go faster.’

Cherry looks at Trip for a moment, shakes his head, and says, ‘That’s my job.’

Certainly grumpy, Cherry thinks and obediently in silent his orders.

Wappert gives the signal and the cart starts moving. They led him through the hallways to the hospital. ‘Faster,’ Wappert shouts. ‘Her breathing is a bit irregular. She needs help and medicine quickly otherwise she won’t make it.’


At Fleurtje’s home


The East wind pushes the snow against the windows. The roads are difficult to pass and the cars shuffle with difficulty on the road. Every now and then one of the cars slips to the other side of the road and then he can with a bit of struggling to continue his way. Fleur’s mother watches the stormy weather from behind the window. The sudden change in the weather forces her to stay at home and that makes her restless. The daily walks were good for her. Let her worry less and the loss of her husband and daughter disappear into the background. First that terrible accident of her husband and then the disappearance of her daughter. Fleurtje, who disappears shortly after arriving at her mother-in-law. Her guilt is great. After all, she had brought her to her mother-in-law herself in the hope that she would be able to adapt a little more to her disability, which she had suffered during the accident. No one had ever seen her again. The days-long searches had also yielded nothing. Now the only person where she had a lot of support from has also died. She feels an enormous emptiness in her. To her great sadness, she had to bury her mother-in-law, yesterday. She admired her. She always was cheerful and saw the bright side of life. She gave her hope. ‘Fleurtje will be back, I assure you,’ she said over and over again.’

Suddenly the silence is interrupted. In the kitchen, she hears someone tapping the window. Through the window she sees a woman without a coat, shivering from the cold. Then she recognizes the woman and quickly walks to the door.

‘What are you doing outside without a coat, in this weather. You still get sick. Come in soon and we’ll drink something warm. Come along to the living room, it will be nice and warm there.’

Mother quickly makes a mug of hot chocolate for both and puts one down for her neighbour. ‘So, this will make you feel better.’ she says.

Actually, she doesn’t need the company. She prefers to be alone with her thoughts, but she also understands that there are people who sympathize with her and she should be incredibly grateful for that.

‘Haven’t you heard anything yet,’ asks the neighbour.

Mother nods no and shrugs.

‘Sorry to disturb you. We all sympathize with you. It’s not curiosity. Shall I go again?

‘Oh no, stay a while. At least it gives me some distraction,’ mother replies.

The neighbour lets the silence sink in and in the meantime, she straightens her hair, which has been blown out of his model by the strong wind. ‘How was the funeral?’

‘Chilly and cold. Especially when no one puts their arm around you. It was a cold day. I felt so lonely,’ and wipes away a few tears.

The neighbour gets up and hugs Fleurtje’s mother, who rests her head on one of her shoulders. She lets out her tears and after a while, she loosens herself and says sobbing: ‘Sorry, I just couldn’t control myself. You know the pain is so strong.’

‘Doesn’t matter. Maybe it will be a relief,’ the neighbour replies.

Fleur’s mother looks at her through her tears and then suddenly asks: ‘Do you also believe that my mother-in-law was not quite right?’

The neighbour looks at her and asks, ‘Honestly, do you want me to answer that?’

‘You have to. Otherwise, I’d rather you leave right away.’

But without the answer from her neighbour, she knows what they thought of her mother-in-law. ‘You’re right. I shouldn’t ask you that. I don’t mean it like that. Sorry.’

Somewhere a tune is playing, and both are looking in the direction of where it should come from. ‘There are people at your door,’ says the neighbour.

‘People? No, people never come here. They must be wrong.’

‘Shall I let them in,’ asks the neighbour.

‘Yes, do that and in the meantime, I’ll freshen myself up’

When mother enters the living room, she sees, to her great surprise, Fleurtje’s teacher in the living room and who is accompanied by the principal, whom she has only met once. That was at the beginning of the school year when she had to discuss Fleur’s situation with him. In fact, Fleur’s teacher is the only one she knows reasonably well.

Both condolence her to her loss and then some others come into the living room. Fleurtje’s teacher takes the floor and says: ‘I want to apologize to you on behalf of all of us. We wanted to accompany you on the day of the funeral, but due to a miscommunication, the wrong day has been passed to us and we are a day late.’

‘Thank you. I’m glad it’ was a misunderstanding and not a reluctance,’ mother replies.

‘I would like to explain the misunderstanding. You are entitled to that,’ the teacher continues and clutching mother’s hands firmly in her hands.

Mother nods and says: ‘It’s okay. Thank you for being here. Please sit down. Can I offer you something? Coffee or tea,’ and looks at them one by one.

‘Never mind, I’ll make a pot of broth,’ the neighbour says.’ I will take care of it.’ She walks into the kitchen and then suddenly changes her mind and returns to the living room.

‘Is there anything else,’ asks Fleurtje’s mother.

‘Do I have to answer your last question?’

‘Oh neverminded. It’s not important,’ mother smiles gently.

The neighbour provides everyone with a cup of coffee or tea. Little is spoken and then Fleur’s mother gets up and says: ‘Folks, I know I’m not too popular in this area, but I’m glad you still came.’

One of the women gets up and interrupts her: Not popular, but ma’am …’

Mother interrupts her and says: ‘Call me Fee.’

There is some talking and there is some tension is palpable.

‘I think she is strange. You can tell me more, but I’m getting out of here,’ said one of the women.

‘That you can’t make, that’s not human. You’ve only just gotten here,’ whispers one of the others.

‘And yet I am going.’ She gets up and suddenly cannot move her body. She looks anxiously around her and starts to scream hysterically. Nobody responds to her and sit quietly.

Fleurtje’s mother continues her story. She explains what the situation is now and that the investigation and search have so far yielded nothing. ‘The death of my mother-in-law is a sad side effect,’ mother explains.

The first visitors leave after half an hour. Some glare at the hysterical woman and shake their heads indignantly. ‘Don’t worry. She always stirs things up a bit, but she doesn’t mean any harm. It is her own fear that she has been struggling with,’ tells one of the parents Fleur’s mother.

‘I understand,’ Fee replies.

The woman is still sitting motionless in the chair and Fee approaches her.

‘Would you like another cup of coffee,’ she asks in a friendly voice.

The woman stares at her and does not know what to say.

‘Madam,’ she whispers.

‘Call me Fee.’

‘Fee,’ she asks.

Fee sits down in a chair in front of her and looks at her in a kindly way. She is waiting for what the woman will say.

‘I’m sorry about what happened. I shouldn’t have said that. I should have listened to you.  Fee looks at the woman in surprise and does not understand what she is talking about. ‘Did I speak too softly, she asks.’ If so, I would like to tell you again under the usefulness of a cup of fresh coffee.’

‘No, thank you. I really have to go home now, my kids are waiting for me,’ she apologizes. She doesn’t feel comfortable at all and wants to leave as soon as possible.

‘Yes, of course, just go quickly,’ Fee replies friendly.

Tired she walks into the living room. Think about what happened to her today. It’s nice that they took the effort to visit her, she thinks. Now that she is alone, she can use all the support. Strange how human life can change in such a short time. I have to see that I get new additions in life, she continues.

Again, there is a tapping on the window. Fee suspects it is the neighbour, but to her surprise she sees a crow sitting on the edge of her windowsill. It rocks back and forth and from time to time he taps against the window.

Fee tries to chase him away, but he does not intend to be chased away and keeps jumping up and down. Spread his wings and then Fee sees that there is a tube at the bottom of his wing. She walks outside and the front door knocks out of her hands. The wind blows strongly, and she feels the cold cutting through her thin sweater. The crow jumps to the doorway and is then blown in by a gust of wind. He claps against the stairs and scrambles up with difficulty.

‘Oh no, did you hurt yourself,’ Fee asks concerned and carefully picks him up from the ground?

Bongo flutters his wings a little and sits on her arm.  In the meanwhile, Fee has trouble closing the door and then she walks with Bongo to the living room.  Bongo spreads his wings, and the capsule becomes visible and he waits quietly. ‘Crow…., Crow…,’ he screams

Fee carefully tries to remove the capsule, but then he slaps his wings, and she hears a click. The capsule releases and falls into her hand. Bongo flies up and goes to the door. ‘I understand,’ says Fee. ‘You want to go out again, right?’

‘Crow…., Crow…,’ Bongo screams and Fee opens the door for him.

She watches him fly away through the blizzard with great difficulty and soon he is out of sight. She walks into the living room with the capsule in her hand. Fee opens it carefully

and pulls out a rolled-up note. She rolls it out and with trembling hands, she reads it with the handwritten note.


Do not worry. Fleurtje will be fine.

I guaranteed,

Your devoted mother-in-law


‘This can’t be true.’ She whispers and doesn’t understand. This must be a sick joke. After all, she had taken her to her final resting place. Her heart would love to believe the note, but it is impossible. ‘No, I really can’t take this anymore.’

‘What can you no longer handle,’ the neighbour asks curiously.

Startled, Fee turns around and looks at her in surprise. ‘How long have you been there?’

‘Not long. I heard your front door slam with a loud bang, and I thought I’d go and see if you’re okay. What do you have in your hand?’

‘Nothing special. My mother-in-law left a note on the mail before her death and I just received it,’ Fee replies.

‘How lugubrious, it is unbelievable. First that car accident, then the disappearance of Fleur and now it turns out that your mother-in-law also sent a note just before her death. How much can a person bear.’

Fee looks suspiciously at the neighbour and says:  ‘neighbour, I am desperate.  Everyone is nice to me, but I don’t trust it.’

‘Come on girl,’ the neighbour replies. ‘I am your best friend and I support you. Come here,’ and comfortingly she takes her in her arms.

Fee lets her go and looks at her. ‘How long have I known you.’

‘Long enough, why do you ask?’

‘I don’t remember or understand any of it. I feel like I’m losing my mind,’ and Fee looks at her neighbour.

‘That often happens after traumatic experiences,’ the neighbour replies.

‘Neighbor,’ Fee asks.

‘Please call me Wartaline. I think neighbour is so impersonal.’

‘Wartaline, actually quite a special name. How did you get that name?’

‘That’s a strange story,’ says Wartaline. ‘My mother told me my name is actually Wappert. After I was born my mother held me above her head and then my father noticed that my arm was hanging limply down. They discovered that there was less strength in my arm and that is also the reason why my arm was hanging so limply. By the way, that has turned out all right again. My father laughed and called me Wappert, which was also my grandfather’s name. So, by coincidence, I was also named after my grandfather, but of course, Wappert does not suit a girl. Then my mother came up with the idea to call me Wartaline.  Well everyone happy, especially my grandfather.’

‘Luckily, your arm is good now.’

Wartaline looks at her and asks. ‘How did you get the name Fee?’

Fee frowns: ‘Actually my name is Fellie, but I hated that name and they constantly bullied me whit that name. One day I decided to change my name to Fee. That’s my story behind my name.’

Fee looks absently at the note, which she still had in her hand. ‘That note here, I got it from a …’ and she hesitates. Can she tell this to Wartaline, she wonders? ‘It doesn’t matter, you don’t believe it anyway. I’m exhausted. If you don’t mind, I’ll just lie on the couch, for a while.’

‘Do that, I’ll give you a pillow. Get some rest, ‘says Wartaline, and Fee willingly lets her take care of her. Soon she falls asleep like a dog.

Wartaline walks to the kitchen and opens the window. Bongo quickly pops inside together with Harry the squirrel in his wake. He climbs onto Warteline’s shoulders and whispers that they must act quickly. She quietly walks to the wall cupboard and opens the drawers. After some searching, she finally finds what they came for.

‘I’ve got it,’ she shouts with relief and takes the insurance card out of the drawer.

‘Is there a recipe too,’ asks the squirrel.

Warteline searches a little longer and indeed she finds a recipe and reads it.

‘Are you sure this is the right medicine,’ she asks the squirrel.

Harry reacts indignantly and says that it is not without reason that he has lived with a doctor for so long.

‘All you have to do is sign it,’ he shouts and points out where to sign.

‘Where should she sign,’ Bongo asks impatiently.

‘Well at the bottom of the recipe. There, ‘Harry replies.

‘You don’t have to because it is a repeat recipe. Look,’ says Bongo.

‘Yes of course. You know better,’ Harry responds angrily.

‘It’s so. You may have lived with that doctor for years, but I lived by a pharmacy and I know if this is a new prescription or a repeat prescription. This does not need to be signed, she always has it at home as a precaution. If the person then becomes ill, the sick person can immediately start the antibiotics.’

‘Don’t both argue. Just give me that prescription and I’ll take it straight to the pharmacy. You better go back to the camel hill. I can do it on my own,’ Wartaline whispers.

‘Do you know what you’re doing,’ asks the Squirrel. ‘We both like you as a woman, but are you smart enough,’ he teases her.

‘Get out of here, cheeky creatures.’ Warteline opens the window again and lets them out.

She gently returns to the living room where Fee is still sleeping peacefully. Warteline opens a box and sprinkles some gold-coloured powder over Fee.

She quickly goes outside and hopes that what she wants to do is going well.

In the meantime, Fee wakes up from her sleep and sits up. She still feels a bit strange in her head but thinks she has recovered now she has slept for an hour.


Warteline struggles through the snow on her way to the pharmacy. ‘I have to hurry, or it won’t look so good for that little girl,’ and she tries to walk a little faster.

Finally, she is at the pharmacy and is thinking about how she can do this.

‘Crow …, crow …,’ it sounds above her head and Bongo lands on her shoulder.

‘Why are you still here, Bongo? I told you to go back to the woods.’

‘Yes, that’s right, but you have to hurry. Soon your time will run out and Corn is worried. please hurry up.’

‘You didn’t tell him I let myself be transformed into a human, did you?’

‘No of course not. I’m as silent as the grave, but you understand that you only have about forty human minutes left, and Corn really can’t live without you.’

‘Now go. I’ll be fine,’ but she knows Bongo is right and she really needs to hurry up now.

Bongo spreads his wings and lands on the gutter. A woman comes out of the pharmacy, glares at Wartaline and says: ‘You leave that bird alone, or you’ll get a whack with my stick,’ and swings her walking stick in the air.

Wartaline decides to ignore her and walks into the pharmacy. There are four people in front of her and she understands that this will take some time. She digs into her memory. Wasn’t there a spell that could make you go unnoticed? After a few minutes she remembers him and softly she mumbles a few strange words. It functions. She is approached almost immediately by the assistant: ‘Good day ma’am, can I help you,’ she asks?

‘Yes please,’ Wartaline replies and gives her the recipe.

The assistant asks for the insurance certificate and Wartaline searches nervously in her coat pocket. She eventually found him and gives him also to the assistant. Hopefully, it goes well. I would never forget myself; she thinks nervously.

‘Is it for yourself, ma’am?’

‘No, it’s for my niece,’ Warteline replies gently.

The assistant scans the pass again and asks Warteline the name and date of birth of her niece. Warteline is happy that she memorized Fleurtje’s date of birth at the last minute and mentions Fleur’s name and date.

The assistant walks away and Warteline is feeling warm. Sweat is breaking out. A little later she returns with a man. She points to the screen and asks if this is correct. He takes his glasses out of his jacket and puts them on his nose. He peers at the screen for a moment and then asks, ‘Are you the mother?’

‘No sir. I am her aunt.’

The man stares at her for a moment.

‘The child is critically ill. Please hurry up.’

He looks at her doubtfully but tells the assistant that it is okay and that she can have this dose. ‘Your niece has pneumonia again,’ he asks.

Warteline nods and is happy that Corn’s diagnosis where correct.

‘Yes sir, that’s why I have to hurry. She needs to start on the medication as soon as possible, ‘ and she looks at the clock hanging on the wall above the cupboard.

Her time is running out. It won’t be long before she turns back into a rabbit. She quickly takes the box and runs out of the pharmacy. She struggles through the snow looking for Bongo. Where is that beast, if you need him, she thinks angrily? Then she hears him calling and he lands on her shoulder.

‘Stop Wappert, you will never make it through that snow. Give me the medication, it will go much faster by air.’

She doesn’t want it, but when she thinks about the clock in the pharmacy, she starts to have doubts. ‘You’re right Bongo. It takes too much time and that I don’t have. I hope you can wear them because you also have headwind.’

‘Come here Bongo.’ Bongo knows it’s tough, but it has to. He spreads his wing and asks her to fasten the package properly. Wartaline looks at where the capsule with the note used to be and then says, ‘The package is way too big for your wing. If I tie it to your wing, you can’t fly anymore.’

Tired she sits down in the snow and then gets a great idea. She pulls a lace from her shoe and pokes a few holes in the medicine box. She threads the lace through it. Bongo approaches and Wartaline ties the package around his neck.

‘I hope it works like this,’ she says. ‘You’re right Bongo, I can hardly do anymore.’

‘It should work. Let me do it. Your time is running out. You did your best.’

He spreads its pitch-black wings and floats upwards against the wind and flies away.

Wataline still calls him to be careful, but Bongo does not hear that anymore and soon he disappears out of her view.

Wartaline trudges through the snow. All she wants is to get safely back to the camel hill as soon as possible. After a few hundred meters her head suddenly becomes heavy and she falls forward in the snow. Her body is rapidly changing from human to rabbit, but oh, how happy she is that Bongo has taken over her job. Warteline is now back to normal and is satisfied with the performance of her task.

Bongo flies as high as possible to deliver the package. As he approaches the camel hill he skims dangerously over the treetops. Due to the snowfall, he can no longer orient himself properly and the treetops are hardly distinguishable. He decides to fly lower but also knows that he is taking a lot of risks. The wind gets stronger and the snowflakes turn into hunting snow. He tries to descend a little further, but suddenly there is a gust of wind that throws him aside. He loses his balance and starts spinning. He tries to ascend again with all the strength he still has. He partially succeeds, but then he flies into a treetop and falls to the ground.


The Eind of Part 5