Lemon Drops on Sundays

A short story about a young girl who grows up very quickly :)

**Sorry about the funny formatting, that's Movellas' fault, not mine!**

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1. Summer

When I was young, I lived on an odd patch of land in a small, sleepy town south of London. This patch of land, so familiar to me in my youth, yet all but faded now, was divided by a thin, winding stream that my parents continuously cautioned my siblings and I not to venture near.

            On the other side of the stream was a house; an old, overgrown place that I might have thought derelict had I not known of the Old Lady that dwelled within.

            I’d always thought her to be perfectly amiable, mostly because every Sunday, rain or shine, she’d hobble out of her rickety house on a wobbly cane and throw sweets across the water. One for my brother, one for my sister, and one for me. Then, she’d turn away and slowly make her way back inside, engulfed by the mouth of a splintered doorframe, punctuated with nails and masses of ivy and moss.

            One lazy afternoon, when I was seven, I had Sam round to play. The sun was high in the sky, beating down on us with beastly waves of heat. We lounged beside the water, dangling our toes just shy of its bubbling, cooling depths. It was too hot to bother talking.

I directed my gaze towards the old, detached house, partially obscured by the towering nettles and grass. A veritable jungle of a garden. As I did, my old neighbour tottered out, with all her strength it seemed. From the pocket of her greying dress, she pulled a handful of sweeties and threw them in to our waiting laps.

            One, two, three, four.

            “Suzy and Eddy aren’t here, that means we’ve got two each!” With fervour, I divided our loot and popped the first lemon drop in my mouth, relishing its tangy taste. I waited for Sam to do the same, but he hadn’t been round on a Sunday before, and his expression was one of extreme disgust.     

            “What?” I asked.

            “You can’t eat that!” he said, pointing a single chubby finger at my mouth, “It’s poisoned.”

            I scoffed, I’d been eating the Old Lady’s lemon drops every Sunday for all my life and they were delicious, not deadly. I told him so.

            “I swear they are!” Sam said. “My brother told me, he’s fifteen. Michael says that your Old Lady’s a witch, and witches poison stuff.”

            “Do not.”

            “Do too, I’ll bet that they just kill you slowly, or the poison hasn’t kicked in yet. You wait.”

            I glared at Sam for ruining my snack and promptly spat what was left of it in to my palm. I held it out to him.

            “Look poisonous to you?”

            Sam leaned in close and inspected it thoroughly.

            “Sure does.”

            I looked in to his eyes, narrowing my own in an attempt to disconcert him enough to take back his lies, but he didn’t. With a huff, I dropped the sweet in the water, along with all of the others, and washed my hand of the lingering sticky residue.

            “There, they can’t poison us now, can they?”

            “Well, you already ate some… but I guess not.”

            I smiled and for a long time, I didn’t take the Old Lady’s offerings. I told Suzy and Eddy that she was a witch, and fifteen year old Michael’s opinion was solid evidence for it. Every Sunday we scooped up the snacks from the bank and watched them drift away with the current until we couldn’t see them anymore.

            This became ritual until one day, the sweets stopped coming.

            “Thank the heavens!” Eddy, who was now simply Ed, had exclaimed.

            “Do you think she’s okay?” I asked warily. I don’t think I’d ever been happy to see the Old Lady haul herself out of her house to bestow us with such treasures, only for us to send them downstream as soon as she was out of sight.

            “Course,” Suzy, who was a year younger than me, said, “old people are strong.”

            “She didn’t look strong.”

            “Look at Nana though, she’s really strong.” Of course, that was true. Nana was a fierce old woman, but she was an anomaly.

            Later that night, I crawled out of bed and settled on the window seat, unable to sleep for the thoughts of the Old Lady that swirled, nightmarish, in my mind. Across the stream, a light blazed in the bottommost window of the house next door. I glanced at the glowing Disney clock on my bedside table, 3:36AM. I furrowed my brow and crawled back in to bed.

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