The Neighbor Wars
Author: K.M. Paxton

Chapter 2
Chapter 2

"Where is he? Where's my baby?!" Ella Greene cried, bursting through the hospital doors and stumbling up to the front desk.
†† † "Who, ma'am?" The stuffy receptionist replied quietly as she clicked on her computer.
†† † "Owen. Owen Greene. Please, he's my baby!"
†† † "Hello, Mrs. Greene? I'm Trey Colton, Owen's doctor, okay? Please, come with me," the young man smiled, showing off the dimples deep set in his carmel-colored face.†
†† † "Is he okay?" she demanded. Clutching her purse against her side she raced after the doctor who was strolling down the hallway ahead of her.
†† † †"He's in decent shape, ma'am. He crashed a friend's car into a stop sign and didn't sustain any injuries."
†† † †"So....why is he in the hospital, then?" Confused, she questioned.
†† † † A smile played at the doctors lips. "The reason he crashed into the stop sign was because he was high on marijuana. The reason he's in the hospital is because, well, he's allergic to it."
†† † †With that, the doctor swung open one of the doors to a room and revealed Owen Greene, sitting cross-legged in the bed, anxiously scratching his blotchy red skin.
†† † †"Mom."
†† † †Ella narrowed her eyes. "Owen."
†† † †"Can you scratch my back? Please?"†
†† † †"To heck I will," she snubbed back, uncharacteristically of her.
†† † †"Mom. I made a mistake, I get it. But look at me! I made of fool of myself! Allergic to weed, just my luck," he sounded sincere, but his mom just turned her head away. His eyebrows creased. "Mom?"
†† † †"I will, baby, if you want me too," a high-pitched voice sounded from the corner of the room.
†† † †Ella jumped. "Who is that?"
†† † †A girl with long blonde hair with dark brown roots looked up at her. She had an orange-y skin tone that was tainted with running mascara and she was scantily-clad in a short, tight red dress.
†† † †"I'm Jenny. Owen's girlfriend. I'll take the blame for this, Mrs. Greene. I pushed him into trying it at the party."
†† † † "What party, Owen?! You said you were going to her house!" his mom exclaimed, face turning red with rage.†
†† † † †He coughed. "The party was at her house."
†† † † †"Owen Jared Greene, I'm so mad at you, words can't even describe it. I-I can't even look you in the face. You-you...I'm so ashamed of you." She shifted her gaze over to Jenny, lips turning up in disgust. "You! Get out of my son's hospital room."
†† † † † Owen's face was frozen in shock. "Mom, this is so..unlike you."
†† † † † "Funny, 'cause I was just thinking the same thing about you a few minutes ago," she replied coolly.
†† † † † "Knock, knock-it's Dr. Colton. Mrs. Greene, if you don't mind, I'd like to keep Owen a few more days just to monitor the aftermath of his reaction, okay? You know, to keep on record."
†† † † † †"That's just FINE with me, Dr. Colton," Ella refuted, sticking her nose up in the air.
†† † † † †"I'll just keep him tonight and tomorrow night, so you can pick him up on Sunday, okay? Just visit the front desk on your way out to sign some forms and you can be on your way, okay?"
†† † † † †"Sure, sure."
†† † † † †He smiled a tight smile and put his hand on her shoulder. "Have a good night, okay?
†† † † † †"I'll try."

†† † † † † † † † † †
†† † † † †Ashley Alderman rushed around the kitchen, fumbling to pick up a steaming coffee pot and twisting her long brown hair into a high bun. Pouring the hot coffee into a tall travel cup, she twisted the lid and placed it on the counter while she toasted a bagel.
†† † † † †Her mom, wavy red hair in a fancy updo, sauntered into the kitchen clutching a cup of tea. "Hi, honey."
†† † † † †"Hey....."
†† † † † †"You're volunteering at the hospital this morning, right?" her mother questioned, pink lips pressed into a line. Her tone showed she wasn't truly questioning and more reminding, but Ashley chose to answer her anyway.
†† † † † †"Yup. Gotta leave in a few minutes. Will you be back when I get home?" Ashley was hopeful that she might get to spend some time with her mother over the weekend. In the back of her mind she probably knew the answer, but she could never be too hopeful.
†† † † † † "Sorry, hun. I'm going back to the office a little after you leave. I won't be back until after dinner," she paused for moment and looked down. "Well, look at the time. You wouldn't want to be late for volunteering, right? Because I know how much you love it."
†† † † † † †Ashley swallowed. "Right. Love it. Gotta go."†
†† † † † † †She pecked her mom on the cheek, grabbed her coffee cup, and purposely left her bagel in the toaster for one of the boys to eat. She knew her mom was never going to get around to cooking for them, and her dad had yard work planned for the day.†
†† † † † † †Hopping into her yellow VW bug, she slowly backed out of the driveway and drove past the Greene's house, which had no car in the open garage. She spotted Emily and the twins outside, though, so she stopped next to them and rolled the window down.
†† † † † † †"Hi, Emily. Where's your mom?"
†† † † † † †"Oh, hey Ashley. She wasn't here when we woke up, but my dad's here. His car got towed last night 'cause he was parked in a no-parking zone. He's sleeping but he's going back to work as soon as my mom gets home," Emily spoke, a mile a minute, tossing her blonde hair back and forth.
†† † † † † † Ashley laughed a short giggle and smiled. "I better get out of here. Just checking on you guys. See ya!"
†† † † † † † As she pressed the gas pedal, she couldn't help but think how similar their households were, but backwards. If Jason and Victoria didn't hate each other so much, she thought, their families might actually be able to relate to each other. Interrupting her thoughts, her phone's handsfree set rang.†
†† † † † † † "Hello?"
†† † † † † † "What were you doing outside the Greene's house?" her mother's voice demanded.
†† † † † † † "I-I was just checking on Emily and the twins, they seemed like they were alone," she stammered, taken off guard by her mom's harsh tone.
†† † † † † † "Jason Greene's children are to be none of your concern, do you hear me? None. Zero. Zip. I thought we talked about not interacting with them. Jason's the competition, Ash. We aren't friendly with the competition. Oh, I have to go. Kisses!"
†† † † † † † †The line went dead. Ashley stopped thinking this time and simply drove, finally reaching the hospital in a matter of minutes. As she got out of her car, she spotted Mrs. Greene
walking in her direction through the parking lot.
†† † † † † † †Even though she thought it was weird, Ashley remembered her mom's words and chose not to think about Jason's wife. But as they passed, Ella Greene spoke.
†† † † † † † †"Oh, hey Ashley!"
†† † † † † † † For a split second, Ashley decided to pretend she didn't hear her, but the voice in the back of her mind took over.†
†† † † † † † † "Hi Mrs. Greene," she felt herself say. Feeling like a greeting was enough and not wanting to press on why her neighbor was here, she continued her stride towards the hospital and entered the side door, facing her fellow group of volunteers and the doctor that supervised them.
†† † † † † † † "Nice of you to join us, Ms. Alderman." Dr. Trey Colton greeted icily.
†† † † † † † † †"Sorry."
†† † † † † † † †Dr. Colton ignored her weak apology and kept talking. "Today you all will be receiving a patient's chart. All you have to do is go their room and take their vitals, recording them on the chart. Then come back here, okay?"
†† † † † † † † †Without waiting for a response, he began passing out patients charts to each of the volunteers. Ashley looked at her clipboard's information.
†† † † † † † † † Elizabeth Reid, age 87, with a minor case of pneumonia. Easy enough, she thought, and turned on her heel to leave, before being tapped on the shoulder.†
†† † † † † † † † "Can we trade? Please?" the cute guy Gregory pleaded. "You're better than me. That one's easy. Please?"
†† † † † † † † † Ashley never turned down a challenge, so with a roll of the eyes she shoved her clipboard into his buff arms and took his. Starting to walk, she began to read again before freezing in her place.
†† † † † † † † † Owen Greene, age 16, anaphylactic shock to marijuana.†
†† † † † † † † † Just my luck, she thought, and cracked the door open to his room. There he was, sitting up on the bed, scratching himself all over with blood-shot eyes.
†† † † † † † † † †"Alderman?" His confused face amused Ashley, but not enough to distract her. She simply sauntered in, stuck a thermometer in his mouth, and looked into his deep blue eyes.
†† † † † † † † † †"For the next few minutes, we're gonna pretend our parents don't hate each other, kay?" she smiled a big fake smile and wrote down his temperature. As she went to take his blood pressure, she realized the room was missing a cuff.
†† † † † † † † † † "I'll be right back," she muttered, and went to get one from the supply closet. As she walked down the hallway, she froze in her tracks when she heard a familiar chilling sound. The sound of a heart monitor going flat. Coming from Owen's room. † † † † † † † † † † † †


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