Tea Leaves and Diamond Bracelets

Great Sugi of Kayano

Match Twenty-Six: Great Sugi of Kayano:

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. By the time Alfred realized what had happened, it was too late to turn back. He remembered what happened before and the aftermath, but not the events in the middle.

It started three days ago.

-Start-

Lydia had to go away for the weekend. It started with a call from an old friend of her parents’.

“Hello?” the girl asked.

“Is this Lydia?” a woman asked. A confused look came over Lydia’s face.

“Why?” she asked.

“You do not remember me, but my name is Ellie,” the woman said on the other line. “I was friends with your parents.” Lydia’s eyes shifted back and forth.

“Okay…” she said.

“How is your sister?” Ellie asked.

“Fine…” Lydia couldn’t figure out who she was talking to. Ellie wasn’t ringing any bells in her head.

“I’m sorry, but what is your last name?” she asked.

“Oh, I apologize,” Ellie said with a chuckle. “My name is Ellie Roberts.” The name sounded familiar.

“Okay…” Lydia said. The call didn’t last for a long time. But, she couldn’t stop thinking about Ellie. Who was she really? Why did she call? Lydia had to go and find this woman and see who she was. Right now, all she had was a name. After some Google searches, her quest began. It took her about three weeks, tops. She tracked down the name and address. Apparently, Ellie lived all the way down in Texas. That seemed pretty far away. Plus, Florence’s health was still spiraling down the drain. Lydia pressed her lips together as she stared at the screen. There would only be one way to solve this.

This wasn’t an easy choice. But first, she had to get someone to watch over Florence. As much as she didn’t want to admit it, Lydia only knew one person to call.

“Hey, it’s me,” she said. “I will need a favor from you.” It sounded so bitter in her mouth. But, what choice did she have? She had to find out the truth for herself. Lydia gulped and shut her eyes.

“I will need you to watch over Florence for a few days,” she said. Lydia opened her eyes. “Thanks. Here’s what you need to do.”


-Day One-

It was supposed to be simple. Alfred had been alone with Florence before. Nothing really happened except for one kiss. Everything should’ve been fine from there.

Except, those strange visions were getting worse. Alfred could see himself standing in that school hallway again. He could smell himself wasting away. Then, there was her.

“Alfred?” he heard behind him. The American man turned around. Florence stood behind him with a tired smile on his face. He gave her a confused look at first.

“Are you okay?” she asked. “You look so pale.” Alfred shook his head.

“Nothing, it’s nothing,” he lied. “Hey, have you eaten yet?”

“No…” she said.

“Good,” Alfred said. “Let’s find something to eat.” He took her by the arm and led her back into the kitchen. He had to make sure that Florence ate her food. She was starting to eat less and less each day.

“She doesn’t have to have a giant portion,” Lydia told him over the phone. “Just get her to eat something.”

“Alright,” he said. Tonight’s dinner consisted of wild mushroom soup and a small salad.

“Thank you,” Florence said as Alfred served her.

“No problem,” he said. The American man joined her at the table. He smiled and took a bite of his soup. He shivered at the bitterness.

“Mmm,” Alfred lied. “This is good.” This tastes like dog crap. Still, he had to sell this to get her to eat. Lucky for him, she picked up her spoon and took a bite.

“Good?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said. Florence took her time eating her food. Something about her triggered a strange memory in Alfred’s mind.

“Hey, Florence,” he said.

“Yes?” she asked. Alfred tried to think of how he was going to say this but shook his head.

“Never mind,” he lied. “It’s nothing.” Seeing her reminded him of that girl in his visions. She tried to get him to eat. She’d many everything on the tray sound so delicious. He would just sit there in a daze. Nothing seemed to be getting to him anymore. This would be days before he ruined them both.

Back in present day, Alfred rose to his feet.

“Alfred?” Florence asked.

“I’m not hungry anymore,” he said. He walked out of the dining room before she could say another word.

The rest of the night went by calmly. Florence had a bath and went to bed. Alfred slept in the guest room across the hall.


-Day Two-

Pretty much the same as yesterday. Florence mostly stayed asleep in bed. There is not much to do around the house. The girls still had a landline and there was no wi-fi around the house. There was on laptop in Lydia’s room, but the door was locked. Alfred laid back on the couch and sighed. He looked at his phone. No texts or calls. Not like he would get much out here anyway. This part of the neighborhood was a dead zone. Now what? Maybe they could go out somewhere. It didn’t have to be a lavish trip. Just maybe somewhere to go shopping for groceries. That would be easy enough.

Alfred knocked on Florence’s door.

“Hey, Flo!” he shouted. “I’m going to the store. Want to come with me?”

“No thank you,” she mumbled behind the door. Alfred put his ear to the door.

“Are you okay in there?” he asked.

“Just a little tired,” she said.

“Do you want me to get you anything?”

“No thank you.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

Alfred shrugged his shoulders. “Alright.” He turned and walked down the hall. The American man took one more look behind before he left. He shoved his hands into his pocket and got lost in his mind. Alfred began to remember something that Yao asked him a couple of weeks ago.

“Do you believe in past lives?” he asked. The American man gave him a strange look.

“What do you mean?” he asked. The Chinese man had an uneasy look on his face.

“I think my past life is haunting me,” he said. Alfred narrowed his eyes.

“What are you talking about?” he asked. Yao shook his head.

“Have you been having strange visions as of late?” he asked. Alfred froze at that question. Usually, he would come up with some joke that would annoy the Chinese man. But the topic and the way Yao said it, told him not to do that.

Today, Alfred tried to put it together. Was that a past life that he kept seeing? If so, why was he seeing it?

Alfred stopped in his tracks when he had the feeling of someone watching him. The American man turned his head against his better judgement.

There was that little girl again. Lately, she hasn’t been trying to talk to him. But her staring at him was just as creepy. The child clutched her Hello Kitty backpack and gave him a desperate look. Alfred could feel his heart pounding against his chest.

Not again… Why do you keep following me? I don’t even know you. Who are you? Why won’t you leave me alone?!

His heart pounded faster in his chest. The little girl’s gaze burned a hole through his soul. His vision disappeared into shades of red, gray, and black. He tried to grasp onto something, anything as he started falling backwards.

The next thing he knew, he woke on up the couch in Florence’s living room. Alfred had no memory of how he got there or what happened in between seeing that creepy little girl again and waking up here.

“Oh, you’re awake,” he heard someone speak up. Alfred looked and saw Florence standing in front of him. She had to hold herself up with the arm of the couch. The American man blinked without his glasses.

“Dude, what happened to me?” he asked. “Did you bring me home?” She shook her head.

“One of the neighbors found you passed out on the street and brought you home,” Florence said.

“Oh…” he said. “Sorry to drag you out of bed like that.”

“It’s fine,” Florence said. “I’m just glad you’re okay.” Alfred laid back as he tried to piece together what had happened to him moments before.

The rest of the evening proved to be uneventful, but Alfred couldn’t help but to start to worry about those visions and that little girl. Were the two connected? What did they mean? Alfred ended up not sleeping that night.


-Night X-

It had been raining heavily that night. Alfred felt some numb in the darkness. He stared out the window as the raining poured on. He remembered a night like this. It was with that boy in his visions. He was alone with that girl he kept seeing. That night, some harsh things were exchanged. She was mostly screaming at him. Alfred couldn’t hear what they were saying, but he could tell that the girl with the long blonde hair was upset with the boy wasting away in front of her. Tears streamed from her face.

“You don’t care, do you?!” she asked. “I love you, but you won’t even try to save yourself!” The boy sat there, silent with no emotion in his eyes.

Then, the unthinkable happened.

The girl rushed forward and kissed the boy on the lips. He didn’t try to stop her. He just let her lead them further down the path to ruin. She took him back to his room and lay back onto his bed. What scared him more was that he found himself getting into it when he didn’t want to this. But, the boy didn’t have the courage to turn her away. The whole time, he was screaming in his mind.

What are we doing? Please, stop this. You don’t want this. Please… stop.

But, they didn’t stop. The boy took off his shirt and didn’t know or have the heart to stop the mistake that she and him were about to make. She looked up at him with tears in her eyes, but she didn’t stop him. The boy wished that she had. Maybe things would’ve turned out different. But, he reached down and took off her dress. Things just escalated in his bed.

Just like how things were going to escalate in present day.

Alfred got out of his bed and walked over of to Florence’s room. He had no idea why he was doing this. Maybe this was a last-ditch effort to show her his love for her. Maybe he was acting out as his past self. His brain wasn’t in control as he opened the door. Alfred couldn’t see her in the darkened room, but he knew that she was there. Florence lay there awake in her bed as if she was waiting for him. She watched as he walked over to her bed. He crawled in and climbed on top. The American man could see her deep green eyes glowing in the darkness.

“I love you, Florence,” he said. The American man leaned down and kissed her on the lips. She didn’t resist just like that boy in his visions. Alfred slid off his shirt and reached for her nightgown. Underneath him, that girl from his vision blended in with Florence. But, somehow this was different. That night was a night of shame and blind desperation. Alfred couldn’t make out what this one was. Florence just lay underneath quiet and not resisting. She had her eyes on him the whole time. Even her exchanged looked glassy, almost blank. She didn’t even scream when he broke past her hymen. Could she understand what was happening? Did he understand what was happening? Neither one seemed to want to stop. Both Alfred and the boy in the vision closed their eyes and submitted to the outcome.


-Aftermath-

By the morning, Alfred lay in bed next to Florence. Last night made him shiver. He cursed himself when he saw that tree spirit in the middle of a peaceful sleep as if last night never happened. Part of him wished that it was a dream just like the boy in his vision did. But, both of them knew that it wasn’t. That relationship in the past was destroyed. What would the outcome of his and Florence’s relationship be?

Furthermore, how would it push the Waste Land into its final stages?

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