Tea Leaves and White Pearls


Match Twenty-Four: Cyprus:

Every week, Florence went to the doctor to check her condition. She finds it easier to go with someone else. Usually, Lydia goes with her. This time, Alfred and her younger sister are with her. Right now, said two people are waiting in the waiting room for her. Neither one spoke as they listened at the clock ticking over their heads. Lydia glanced over at him.

"Can you handle any of this?" she asked aloud. Alfred glanced over at her.

"Huh?" he asked. The girl turned to completely face him.

"She will get sick again soon," she warned him.

"She told me all about it," Alfred replied.

"You sure about that?" Lydia asked. The American man looked at her with a stern look on his face.

"Do you not like me or something?" he asked. The girl frowned and shifted her eyes away from him.

"Not really," she mumbled to herself. Alfred frowned in disappointment.

"Why not?" he whimpered. She folded her arms across her chest.

"I don't trust you," she muttered under her breath.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"Tell me," Lydia said, "What is Florence to you?" Alfred gave her a blank look.

"She's a friend," he said.

"Just a friend?" the younger sister asked.

"Well, yeah," the American replied. Lydia leaned back frowning.

"Then why are you so cute to her like this?" she muttered to herself. Alfred tilted his head at that question.

"What?" he asked.

"Nothing," the girl lied through gritted teeth. Alfred himself started to get rather annoyed with this game.

"Look!" he snapped, "Why do you keep asking me all of these stupid questions?" Lydia tightened her fists on her lap.

"Will you be able to handle her illness in the fall and winter?" she asked.

"What?" the American man asked.

"I told you that she's tree spirit," Lydia explained through clenched teeth, "Usually they die within a year. Thanks to all of the medicine she's been on, Florence has been able to live for the past ten years. But, there's no way to tell when her body will start reject them." She whipped around to Alfred glaring at him. "I'm asking you now," she said sternly, "Can you handle such misery that she will endure again this year? If not, go far away and never see us again! Tell me right now." Alfred clenched his own fists.

"Yes!" he hissed, "I can do it!" Lydia sat back once more and snorted.

"Liar," she muttered to herself, but loud enough for Alfred to hear her. He was about to speak again when they heard the door swing open. The pair looked up to see Florence walking out to waiting room.

"Everything okay?" she asked. Alfred and Lydia sat up straight in their chairs with forced smiles on their faces.

"Fine," they lied, "Everything's fine."

"Ready to go?" the tree spirit asked.

"Yes," Lydia replied.

"Sure," Alfred said. As they walked out of the doctor's office together, Alfred tried to think of another way to get Lydia to trust and like him while she in turn tried to think of ways to test his loyalty to her sister.

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