The House with the Lemon Tree-Part 3

The knock at the front door seemed too unnatural that at first Olivia thought she was only dreaming it. Then it wouldn’t stop, so she slumped out of bed and fixed her hair in a mirror before going to the door. The face that met her contrasted how she felt at the moment. Actually it contrasted how she felt at every moment.

“Oh Olivia! What on earth did you do? Fall asleep in your clothes? You’re such a mess!” Allison exclaimed with too perky of a smile. She bubbled and squeaked with the likeness of a witch’s pot. Olivia was already beginning to feel cursed.

“Why, Allison, what are you doing here? And what time is it?” Olivia asked. Allison suddenly lunged forward and grasped Olivia’s clammy hands.

“Olivia, you are in need of a friend! So here I am!”

Olivia could faint. “I could faint of happiness, Allison. You’re very thoughtful.”

Allison flicked her hand in Olivia’s face and flounced into the living room, glancing around with beady eyes before settling on the couch.

“I heard of your close call yesterday,” she said.

“Excuse me?”

“With that intruder. Someone in town said they saw him get close to your house and then run off. Those sneaky no-goods.”

Olivia wanted to clench her fists. So people were spying on her house, apparently. What crazy idiots, in the rain, even.

“Well, it wasn’t that big of a deal. He hardly did a thing,” she said instead, lowering herself gracefully onto a chair.

“People really don’t know how to do proper business,” Allison said. She looked at the wall with some picture frames.

“What do you mean?”

“Olivia, don’t play dumb! You know everyone wants your house. It’s so nice! But they go about in the stupidest ways.”

Olivia suppressed a shiver. She had to get out of the same room as her for a bit.

“Would you like some lemonade?” she said, swiftly standing up.

“You mean from the lemons from your tree?” Allison asked, a little too desirably.

Olivia nodded quickly and left the room without waiting for another reply. She took her time pouring the glasses, and then she stood at the counter for a minute, taking deep breaths. Once she reentered the living room she was sterile and smiley again. Allison was standing at the mantle, staring at the photo of Olivia’s grandmother. Olivia avoided looking at it as she brought Allison her glass. Allison took it daintily but then swigged it down like a drunkard, at least that’s how Olivia saw it.

“Olivia, you really must consider selling the place,” she said abruptly. Olivia had almost taken a sip but was grateful she didn’t.

“Why?” she asked, more forcefully than she intended.

“You’ve been here for years! And there are so many admirers in town. I’m sure you could get any price you wanted on it.”

“For what’s inside it, I’m sure.”

Allison cupped her glass and looked at Olivia innocently. “What do you mean?”

“Oh Allison, don’t play dumb.”

Allison’s eyes twitched slightly. She touched the glass to her bottom lip and looked at Olivia deeply. “Why won’t you sell it, Olivia?”

“You want it, right?”

“I love your home-.”

“No, you want the ‘treasure’, right?”

Allison went pale. She swallowed and glanced away with the guiltiest of looks, and then returned to her innocent mask and looked back at Olivia.

“Olivia, friend, why won’t you just tell us where it is?”

“I don’t know where it is.”

“Really?”

Olivia’s blood was boiling. She took Allison’s glass from her hand and glared at her hard.

“I don’t know where it is, and I don’t know what it is. And I don’t want to know, and no one is going to know. And everyone is going to leave this place alone. I’m not selling it.”

Allison’s lips were pressed in a hard line while her eyes bulged in surprise.

“Have a good day, Allison.”

Olivia turned and flew to the kitchen, where she slammed the glasses onto the counter, making the lemonade splash. She waited till she heard the front door close before she let loose the one solitary sob that had caught in her throat.

That was it. She didn’t care about the house anymore. She didn’t even want to be there. She was going to leave it and let whoever wanted to purge its guts do so. Likely they would find something worthless to match their worthless minds.

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