The Gift

A story about the friendship between a young girl and an old woman. However, this tale takes a nasty twist.

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1. The Gift

 I’ve had a gift for a long time, one not a lot of people have. I’ve had it for such a long time but I still wonder: Who gave it to me?  Was it Priscilla Adams? Was it a higher power, a power no one could truly understand? None of that mattered to me because I had Priscilla and that made me feel joy.

 I walked up the stone pathway that leads to the front door of the Adams Manor. It was a building smeared with shadows and besmirched by time. Once, it was so breathtakingly beautiful, now it’s ancient ruins. I suppose that’s how the world works.

 As I entered the front room I noticed that Miss Adams was in the same position in her armchair that she’d been in yesterday. I wondered if she had moved since my last visit.

 “Ada, dear, is that you?” she called from her armchair. She always knew when I was about, even when I’d been so silent when I came in.

 “Yes, Pris, it’s me.”

 I wandered over to her armchair. The gloom of the room did nothing to hide the thick layers of dust caked on the furniture. Priscilla had lost her motivation to clean the house; it was too big to do all the cleaning alone anyway. The old television in front of her flickered but there was nothing to watch on it since they phased out analogue.

 Her armchair was sturdy with a mahogany frame and brass legs the cover was dark red and made from velvet. Years ago it would have been magnificent to see but now the cover was stained, the brass was worn, and the cushioning had become uneven and frumpy. Priscilla’s weathered leather hand lay upon an out-of-date packet of ‘Werther’s Original’.

 “You know my carer hasn’t been over for weeks now, she always forgets to visits me, I’m lucky I have you to take care of me,” she drawled. Her stark grey eyes were focused forward but she laid her hand on top of mine. It was an odd friendship that a young girl and old woman shared, a melancholy one too.

 I would always visit, she would always complain about her loneliness. Sometimes I wonder if she even knows the truth, maybe she forgot about it. I would have, it’s too wretched to think about. I continued to look after her but eventually I knew I had to leave her alone for the night.

 “Promise you’ll come back to see me tomorrow,” she said, her voice was emotionless.

 “I promise.”

 Things had not always been so miserable, once she had been less languid. We used to play hide and seek. I had not always been as good at hide and seek as I currently am. Now, I could be invisible if I wanted to. I learned the best hiding places in the manor and how to fit into them and spent so long perfecting the technique of doing so.

 The last game I remember playing had been brilliant. Priscilla had never been good at hiding and she always chose obvious places like the wardrobe or the bathtub. I could find her easily; I was never ‘it’ for very long.

 When it had been my turn to hide, I chose to hide in the laundry bin. Despite Priscilla’s knack for having a good idea what room I’m in, she never knew exactly where in the room I was. She’d stumble about for ages; she’d look in the washing machine, the basket for wet clothes, and the detergent cabinet. I think she even looked in a little box and under the floor boards which gave me a chuckle. She’d looked up when I did so and then she opened up the laundry bin. I cursed myself for laughing.

 “I can’t believe you checked the floorboards before the laundry bin.”

 “Well it’s full of clothes, how did you even fit in there?”

 “It’s a secret,” I replied.

 “You mean you cheated, didn’t you? You’ve always been terrible for that,” she smiled and chuckled. After that I had taken to my usual routine of helping her around the house.

 The day after my most recent visit, I walked up the stone path I shuddered. Shaking off the feeling that something was wrong, I continued up the path. The sun outside was smothered by grey clouds. The ivy outside seemed so much longer than it had yesterday. Some moss grew between cracks in the pathway as well. There also seemed to be a lot of ants about today despite the fairly cold weather.

 As I entered the front room I waited slightly, anticipating Priscilla’s cracked voice; it never came. I decided she must have been asleep so I stayed still and tried to stay quiet. Then I spotted some ants that had gotten inside and decide I should wake Priscilla up.

 “Pris,” I called, there was no sound or stir. I tried again but no response, Priscilla had always been a light sleeper, why hadn’t she woken up? I decided to walk towards the armchair then I noticed something, something on the floor. Five nails. They weren’t rusty iron nails but finger nails. I placed my hand over my mouth, was she sick? I walked closer to the armchair and then I almost vomited.

  It was too horrible. Too horrible to be described. Too horrible to even think about. I bolted out of the manor and I left the door wide open. Besides, no one could steal from her now; you can’t steal from a dead woman.

 I watched everything unfold feeling completely hollow. I watched as her family planned an awful funeral; one she would have hated. They invited all the neighbours that gossiped about her, the ones that always tried to call the council to get her put in an old person’s home. It was a lonely funeral that very little people attended and Priscilla hated all of them anyway.

 As I visited her grave I felt so empty. Priscilla had been my only friend, the only person in the world who could see me; to everyone else I was invisible. Her gravestone was ugly. It was so plain and boring. She deserved a great monument like a statue of an angel. There were no flowers on her grave; it was nothing more than fresh dirt. At least they buried her, she would have hated to be cremated. I noticed her daughter and grandson approaching the grave. I heard her daughter talking to the little boy.

 “Your grandmother never really grew up; she didn’t act like an adult. Her best friend died when she was a little girl and she never got over it, not really. We had them buried next to each other, I think it’s what mum would have wanted,” the woman said, sighing slightly.

 I looked over to the grave next to Priscilla’s. I knew the grave, it’s been so long since I saw it last. It’s bare like Priscilla’s but it has a beautiful monument on top of it. It’s so weathered and covered in moss. Her parents died so long ago and her brothers and sisters never knew her because she drowned long before their birth. It was my grave. 

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