Tea Leaves and Gold Pins


Match Twenty-Six: Pine:

Lydia can't take this anymore. Alfred doesn't know the full truth about Florence. This relationship didn't have any good omens to it to begin with. It would be really bad if he got any closer and he didn't know the whole truth about her.

He's going to come over again today. This would be the best time to talk to him. Lydia waited on the porch as she watched the driveway. She studied Alfred for three months now. He always came here moments before lunch. Florence went out to buy some mulch for the garden again. Speaking of which, summer would be over soon. Lydia just dreaded thinking about it. That meant more trips to the doctor and more treatments. I hate hospitals, she thought. They keep reminding me that she doesn't have much time left!

"Are you okay there, girl?" she heard a man ask. Lydia paused and glanced up in front of her. Alfred had his face just inches away from hers. The girl all but leapt of her wicker chair, screaming.

"What the hell?!" she cried. Alfred put his hand on her head.

"What are you screaming for?" he asked. Lydia swatted away his arm.

"Nothing!" she lied. America looked at her, smiling.

"Is Florence in?" he asked.

"No," the younger sister hissed as she folded her arms across her chest and looked away.

"Well, where is she?"

"She went out to buy some things for her garden!"

"Okay." Alfred went quiet for a moment. "You don't seem happy to see me."

Lydia snorted at him. "You think?"


"Why are you always here?"

The American man blinked at her. "Excuse me?"

Lydia turned back to him. "Do you like my sister or something? And why?" Alfred took a long time to think about his answer.

"I do like Florence in a sense," he said. The younger sister frowned at him. This is going in the same circle just like it had last time.

"But why?" she asked.

"She's nice and pretty," he reasoned. Lydia shook her head.

"That's not good enough!" she shouted. Alfred frowned back at her.

"Why do you keep asking me this?" he asked. The girl groaned and rolled her eyes.

"You don't know anything about her, do you?" she asked. Alfred still didn't get what she was getting at. He took a step back.

"She's sick, isn't she?" he asked. "That's why you keep going to the hospital."

"And do you know why?" Lydia asked.

"No," Alfred replied. "Why is that? Isn't she better now?" By this point, just looking at his face made her want to scream. The final snap kicked in right that second.

"No!" Lydia yelled. "She won't be for long! And you know why?! She's a tree spirit!" Alfred stared her with a blank look on her face.

"What?" he asked. Lydia paused as she realized what she had just said. She drew her mouth closed in a frown.

"Damn it," she mumbled to herself. Her eyes shifted back to the American man.

"Come here," she said. "I'll tell you everything." Alfred dropped his shoulders still confused and walked over to the porch. Lydia watched him as he took a seat on the wicker bench. The girl took in a heavy breath.

"Her body is born of trees," she broke down. "She feeds off of nature to survive. Florence is at her healthiest during spring and summer."

"And she's really sick in fall and winter?" Alfred guessed.

"Yes!" Lydia wailed. "Every time we go to the hospital, I am reminded that she doesn't have much time left!"

"Why is that?" the American man asked. Lydia tightened her fists in her lap.

"Tree spirits do not live long," she explained. "They usually die in their twenties. The only reason Florence is still living is because all of the pills and shots that they give her to expand her life. But those will stop working soon too!" The girl broke down into trembling by this point.

"Because of this, I try to keep people from getting too close to her!" she confessed. "I mean, what would be the point? She'll just die or they won't be able to handle it after they learn the truth!" She stopped talking when she felt Alfred pat her on the head. She looked up at him to see the man smiling at her. They didn't speak. Lydia even doubted that he fully understood the situation that Florence was in, yet something told her that wasn't going to go away from the girls that easily. From there, she decided to try and make the most of it until her "sister" finally died.

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