“Concentrate on yourself; how you are, how you should be.”

The next morning, when Eli arrives at the mansion at the top of Rosemont Heights, Widow Adeline is waiting for him with a lawnmower.

“You’re late,” she says, peering down at an diamond-encrusted gold pocket watch.

Eli looks at his own watch. “I’m two minutes early!” 6:58am on a Saturday. Eli hadn’t even know this time existed.

“By my watch, you are late.”

Eli splutters at the indignity. His watch gets time from his phone, which in turn gets time from wherever it is that phones get the time from. Point being, a place more accurate than Widow Adeline’s fingers can wind. Before he can figure out how to explain this, Adeline waves towards the lawnmower.

“Well,” she says. “Get on with it. The grass will not cut itself.”

Eli looks between Widow Adeline and the lawnmower. The thing must be older than he is, lurking, rust-covered and vicious, in the grass. “I thought you were going to teach me to be a dragon!” It sounds kind of stupid, now that he says it out loud.

It also earns him a scowl and a tsch sort of noise. “Discretion, boy,” Adeline scolds. “But, yes. That was the arrangement. This is your first lesson.”

“To cut grass?”

“Yes.”

“Which is teaching me what?”

“Well,” is the answer, smirk curling blood-red lips. “You’ll have the entire time you’re doing it to work that out.”

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