Match Twenty-Eight: Acacia:
Alfred walked up to Florence and Lydia’s door and knocked. He held a bouquet of red roses. He didn’t care if they were as cliched as hell. The American man thought the color would look great with Florence’s hair. Alfred couldn’t wait to see her again today. He straightened up his shirt as the door opened.
“Alfred!” Florence said. “It’s so nice to see me again.” She raced forward and hugged him. The American man smiled.
“I’m sorry I haven’t over to visit more often,” he said. “I’ve just been so busy. Arthur’s been acting strange lately. Can I come in?”
“Sure,” Florence said.
“Thanks,” the American man said. Alfred followed the tree spirit into the house.
Lydia sat on the couch with her cell phone out. She glanced up when she heard the door close.
“Yo!” Alfred said. Lydia pressed her lips together and rolled her eyes.
“Nice to see you too,” the American man said. He sat down on the couch with her. “How have you both been?”
“Good,” Lydia mumbled.
“A bit tired,” Florence said. Alfred gave her an odd look.
“How tired?” he asked.
“I find myself falling asleep in the middle of the day,” she said. Lydia froze over her phone.
“Why didn’t you tell me about this?” she asked.
“I didn’t want you to wait,” her sister said. “You’ve just graduated and you’ll getting to get into your new school.”
“That’s not the point!” the younger girl yelled. “You have to tell me these things so that I can get you to the doctor.”
“What good will that do?” Florence asked. Lydia and Alfred peered at her.
“What?” they asked. The tree spirit’s emotionless face didn’t change.
“I already know,” she admitted. “Your hushed tone over the phone told me everything.” Lydia shut her eyes and cursed herself.
“How long have you known?” she asked.
“Since last month,” Florence said. Lydia pushed her brown bangs from her forehead.
“Damn it,” she muttered. Alfred looked between both girls.
“Uh… is there something wrong?” he asked. Lydia groaned and rolled her eyes.
“Nothing,” she lied. “Why do you have to here again?”
“Lydia!” Florence said. “Enough!” Her sister stared at her with big eyes.
“Florence?” she asked.
“I actually like Alfred,” the tree spirit with her pale wrists shaking. “I know, you’re trying to keep him from getting hurt when I die, but can you try and get along with him.” The younger sister’s face became bright red.
“What?!” she cried. “I never said that!”
“I know you didn’t,” Florence said. “I saw it in your intent.”
“No, I…!” Lydia started to shout. Her older sister eyed her, waiting. Lydia sat there with her mouth open. After a good three minutes, she finally closed her mouth. She folded her arms across her chest and puffed up her cheeks. Alfred sat there the whole time, looking at both sisters.
“Uh… Everyone cool?” he asked. Neither sister answered him. Alfred directed his eyes away from them.
“Okay then…” he muttered.
Lunch was awkward. Neither sister spoke. Lydia stared down at her plate. Alfred glanced over at Florence.
“Is she going to be okay?” he whispered. The younger glared at him and snorted. The American man shrugged his shoulders.
“Let her be,” Florence said. “She’ll be fine.”
“But…” Alfred said.
“She’ll be fine,” she said again. The American man closed his mouth.
“Okay,” he said. Lydia rolled her eyes and shoved food into her mouth.
“So… What’s everyone doing after this?” Alfred asked. No answer. He pressed his lips together.
“This is killing me,” he muttered. He looked over at Florence’s plate and tilted his head.
“Hm?” the American asked. “You’re not going to eat?” Lydia looked up when he asked that question. Florence looked at her plate.
“Oh,” she said. “I guess I’m not hungry.” Lydia trembled and put down her fork.
“Alfred,” she said. “Can I talk to you in private?”
“Huh?” he asked.
“Now!” the younger sister shouted. The American man turned to the tree spirit.
“It’s okay,” she said. “I’ll wait.”
“You sure?” he asked. Lydia cleared her throat loudly. Alfred threw back his head and groaned.
“Fine,” he said. “I’ll be right back.” Lydia gets up and walks down the hall. The American followed behind. Florence started to play with her food.
Lydia sighed and put her hands on her head.
“It’s getting worse,” she said.
“Huh?” Alfred asked. Lydia dropped her hands. She took a deep breath.
“She doesn’t have long to live,” she said. “It’s worse than I thought.”
“How long does she have?” Alfred asked.
“I don’t know,” the teenaged girl said. “I have been talking to the doctors for weeks now. They can’t really do anything now.” She clenched her fists by her slides.
“Damn it,” the girl muttered. “Damn it. Damn it!” Alfred stared at her silently. Lydia glanced over at him.
“It’s not that I hate you,” she said. “It’s just…” Lydia grabbed onto her arm. “I can see where this is already headed!”
“What do you mean?” Alfred asked.
“You’ll fall in love with her,” she said. “You’ll get close and become sad when she dies.” The girl put her hands on her head.
“I just don’t see the point,” she said.
“Well, what does she want?” Florence asked. The girl gave him a blank stare.
“Huh?” she asked.
“You’re trying to protect her, but that’s not what she wants, dude,” he said. Lydia glared at him.
“What do you know?” she asked. Alfred shrugged.
“I like her,” he said. “I’m not sure if she likes me in the same way I do.”
“What’s your point?”
“I’m trying to say is that I want to be by her.”
“Because I want to.”
“But why? Why are you so infatuated with my sister for? What makes her so special? Why? Why?! I don’t get it!”
“Does there have to be a reason?”
“Yes!” Lydia started to see red.
“Is everything okay?” Florence asked from the dining room.
“Yes!” Alfred and Lydia were quick to say. The younger sister turned back to the American man.
“What I want to know is why do you care so much about why I love her?” Alfred asked. She raised her eyebrow.
“Isn’t it obvious?” she asked.
“No, it’s not,” he said. “Flo’s not as naïve as you think she is. She knew that she was dying.”
“I know that!” Lydia said with her nose wrinkled.
“I don’t think you do.” Alfred tilted his head. “Wait… Are you trying to say…?”
“What?” she asked. The American man smirked as he chuckled.
“You have a thing for me too,” he said. “I think you’re jealous and you have a crush on me too.” Lydia’s nostrils flared as she glared at him.
“No!” she snapped.
“You sure?” he asked with a grin.
“Shut up!” the younger girl yelled. Lydia pushed him aside and stormed down the hall to the dining room. Alfred shrugged to himself and followed behind.
Florence looked up when Lydia and Alfred returned to the table.
“Everything okay?” she asked.
“Yes,” her younger sister and her suitor said in unison.
“Everything is fine,” Lydia lied. She flopped down into her chair. Florence turned her attention to Alfred.
“What she said,” he said. He pulled out his chair and sat down. “Hey, you’ve actually eaten a little bit.” Lydia looked over at her sister’s plate. Florence looked down at the fork in her hand.
“Oh, so I did,” she said. The tree spirit took another bite of her food. Alfred and Lydia looked at each other. Silently they decided to watch her as she ate. The younger sister’s hand trembled as she picked up her own fork. If she was going to give her sister some peace in her final days, maybe she would have to tolerate Alfred in their lives a little bit longer. Lydia puffed up her cheeks as she lowered her fork.
“Something matter?” Florence asked. Her younger sister shook her head.
“I’m not really hungry anymore,” she said. “Thanks for lunch.” The young girl got up and left the table.
“Lydia?” Florence asked. Alfred gently touched her wrist. The tree spirit turned her head.
“I’m sure she’s cool,” he said. Florence didn’t answer at first.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” she said. The tree spirit looked down at her plate and took another bite of her meal. She and him spent the rest of lunch eating in silence.