While the writing has been slow going as of late, I’m hoping by posting teasers it intrigues people to want more, therefore pushing me to write faster! Haha. Remember, this is all pre-editing. Enjoy!
Chapter One can be found: here
The interior of the house was like a well-organized yard sale. Knick-knacks lined shelves and windowsills. They were free of dust and many had small white tags hanging from them that blew in the breeze Olivia made as she headed towards the bathroom that had been pointed out to her. She stopped to admire a porcelain seahorse. It was washed in pale colors, the edges gilded in shiny gold. It seemed incredibly detailed and delicate, as if it would crumble to pieces if it were touched.
“Pretty isn’t it?” Pastel’s voice came from behind her. Olivia, who had been lost in her own world, spun and nearly knocked it off the shelf. Wrinkled hands reached up to rescue the delicate creature.
“S-sorry!” Olivia stuttered, her face flaming.
“No bother dear, accidents happen. Would you like me to put your name on it? I’m sure Tude wouldn’t mind.”
Olivia’s brow furrowed. “I’m not sure what you mean,” she admitted.
The older woman pointed to a nearby figure of a pig in a bonnet carrying a basket of flowers. One of the small white tags was hanging from its empty hand. Upon closer inspection, Olivia saw the name Mary printed in a tiny neat scrawl on the tag.
“When people like something in our home, we mark it for them so when we move on, they can have it,” the woman explained.
“Move…on?” The angry butterflies came to life in Olivia’s stomach as she started to get the idea.
“Yes! When we move on from this world. We wouldn’t want to see anyone fight over our things so we are labeling them now to keep that from happening.”
Olivia felt herself start to sway at the woman’s casual talk of her own death. She mumbled an apology and dashed into the bathroom, a hand over her mouth. There was nothing in her stomach to come up, but she dry heaved for a few moments while her pulse raced. The topic of death was never an easy one for her, but it had gotten worse over the years. She hoped her actions didn’t insult the nice old lady.
Once her breathing was back to normal, she pushed a sweaty strand of auburn hair off her brow. Pumping some of the potent flower smelling soap into her hands, she scrubbed at her face with vigor, as if the strong scent could wash away more than just the dirt. After splashing cold water on her face, she looked up and recoiled at the sight of her clean pink skin. It had been a while since she had seen herself dirt-free. Her eyes still looked old, but without smudges and dirt settled into tired creases, she looked more her age of 18.
She finger combed through her tangled locks and pulled the strands into a quick messy braid. Better than nothing. There wasn’t much she could do about the state of her clothes, but at least she looked presentable from the neck up. Taking one last look in the mirror, Olivia tucked a wayward piece of hair behind her ear before leaving the small room to find both women waiting for her.
“Everything alright, dear?” Pastel asked.
Olivia looked at both women, her eyes wide. “Fine…?”
“Took you long enough. Let’s eat,” Tude said turning away before Olivia could respond.
“Don’t mind her. She gets cranky when she’s hungry,” the twin said, tucking her hand under Olivia’s arm. They followed the other woman to a dining room where a long table was elaborately set.
A chandelier hung from the ceiling, its drops of glass spitting out pinpoints of light throughout the room. The walls were covered in a combination of dark wood paneling and a cabbage rose wallpaper. The table was far too big for just the three of them, but each place was set as if its occupant were royalty: silver utensils, fine china and crystal goblets.
Olivia felt as if she had stepped into a different dimension. Who were these crazy old ladies?
Large silver platters sat on the table, gleaming covers hiding their contents. A cut glass pitcher filled with water and slices of lemons, limes and oranges sat just beyond the food, sweating slightly.
When Tude lifted the lid off of one of the platters, Olivia nearly swooned as the smell of roast chicken drifted her way. Her stomach growled loudly. She slapped her hands to her navel as if to stop the sound from traveling, but the wide-eyed looks of the old biddies told her she wasn’t hiding anything. Olivia just hoped she wasn’t drooling like a teething babe.
“Sit already, would you?” Tude grumbled, laying the cover on the sideboard behind her.
Olivia pulled out the heavy chair and sank into it, unable to take her eyes from the veritable feast before her. She couldn’t remember the last time she had more than a cup of soup or half a sandwich. It had to have been before the accident.
She reached a hand out to touch the heavy silverware and noticed the women had their hands folded and their white heads bowed. Snatching her hand back, Olivia dropped her head, following suit if only to not upset the women. She wasn’t religious by any stretch of the imagination, but she could fake it if it meant getting to taste the food in front of her.
Their heads popped up in unison and Pastel started to dish out heaps of steaming vegetables onto Olivia’s plate. Across from her, Tude began sawing through the chicken with a knife as long as Olivia’s forearm. The women served their guest before themselves and Olivia remembered her manners well enough to wait until everyone had food before she began eating. She found it an incredible struggle to eat like a human and not shovel the food in by the forkful. Feeling eyes on her, Olivia looked up and realized, by the twin stares, that she probably wasn’t as successful at acting “normal” as she thought.
“Sorry,” she mumbled after struggling to swallow a mouthful of food without choking.
“Quite alright, dear. Please, eat as much as you’d like. As you can see, there is plenty,” Pastel said after patting Olivia’s hand. Tude glared before putting down her fork.
“Don’t you have a name?” the grumpier of the two women asked.
Olivia’s eyes grew wide as she realized she had never even introduced herself to the women who graciously invited her in for dinner.
“S-sorry!” she stuttered, unused to having these kinds of encounters anymore. “I’m Olivia.”
“Lovely to meet you, Olivia,” Pastel said with a warm smile. “You know Tude and you may call me Vera.”
“Vera? That’s a nice name,” Olivia replied with a shy smile.
“Bah. Her name is Guinevere, but since I had a nickname, she wanted one too,” Tude said, rolling her eyes.
“Gertrude and Guinevere?” The old ladies nodded and Olivia gave them a genuine smile. “Nice to meet you both. Thank you for dinner. It’s…it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever eaten.”
“Ever?” questioned Tude.
Olivia flashed back to a memory of a Christmas dinner years ago, remembering the juicy turkey and homemade cranberry sauce. It was one of the few good memories that hadn’t been wiped away.
“Well, maybe not ever, but it’s definitely made the top three.”
Both women beamed at her as if she handed them the Nobel Peace Prize.
After dinner, Olivia patted her distended stomach and hoped all the food she ate would stay down. She shouldn’t have gorged herself, but not knowing when her next good meal would be, she couldn’t help it.
As the food settled in her stomach, a great exhaustion fell over her. Olivia blinked rapidly, trying to keep herself from falling into a carb induced coma. She tried to push herself up off the overstuffed couch the women had led her to and suddenly found herself with a face full of soft fuzzy fabric. Batting at it, she realized it was a velour blanket. Tude grinned at her while Vera held a pillow in her hands. Olivia cocked her head to the side, wondering what was going through their heads.
“I don’t need this,” Olivia said, her voice quiet as she started to fold the blanket.
“It gets cool in here at night,” Tude told her while nudging her sister to hand over the pillow.
“Yes, quite drafty. We couldn’t want you catching your death,” Vera chimed in after placing the pillow at the end of the couch.
Olivia shook her head and held the blanket out to them. “I don’t need this because I’m not staying.” Her voice was no nonsense, her spine suddenly pin straight. She was grateful for the meal, but she wouldn’t intrude any further and she certainly couldn’t stay the night. If they knew who she really was, what she had done, they wouldn’t want her there either.