Autumn secrets

Submitted into Contest #63 in response to: Write about two characters going apple picking.... view prompt

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Drama Friendship Mystery

Seline Campbell stood in front of the gate of the orchard and waited for someone. Like always, she was late. Not that it would change anything, but she had sent her a text, hours before she left the mansion hoping she would make it earlier this time. 

However, she was still late as always.


She took a glimpse of her expensive wristwatch and frowned. It was past mid-day and they were running late.


“Oh Seline, I am so sorry! I had to pick up a few things." A female voice with a British accent apologised as the owner appeared from a distance.


Seline chuckled and said nothing. 


She was used to the same apology. 


In their thirty years of friendship, dear Lucy had never been once early to an appointment so she had come to accept it but still wished she would at least made the efforts to be early once. Even it was to the yearly apple picking ritual they had both agreed on, though there was no written contract.


They just loved apples...and apple pies.


“I love ya best friend but you're late." She complained in her southern accent. 

"Capital sorry. It's Sunday dear, I need to do some shopping."


“But you just went yesterday! And you only returned from Paris a week ago.”


“Sure. But it's not the same."

Lucy defended her favourite hobby.


“You promised to stop spending recklessly, Lucy. Dave might get mad if he finds out you went shopping again."


“So? He is not the boss of me."


“But it's his money you're spending. You need therapy, Lucy. You are a shopaholic.


“It's called affluence, Seline. It's meant to be spent not worshipped."


She grumbled then asked when they were going into the orchard to pick the apples. Seline could say nothing but follow her, as she dragged her in.


***

Ever since they were kids and as far back as they could recall the orchard had always been their 'place'. They had great memories there, picking fruits and playing in the garden full of green leaves and several colours of flowers.


The orchard belonged to Seline's grandparents and it was where her mother grew up. After her parents got separated, the family moved there when her Grannie passed away and she found solace in it. She spent lots of time in the orchard, alone and sad. But on the first day of kindergarten, she met Lucy and they bonded on their weird and unique taste in snacks. 


They began to hang out together and one day, Seline brought her over to the orchard. Lucy couldn't believe her eyes. There were many fruits there, some she had only seen on television and in books. They played hide and seek, chased after butterflies and rabbits and by the end of the play date; they knew two things.


Apples could hurt when they fall on you.


Apples make great pies.



****

"Lucy, don't pick the bad ones. They give the pies an awkward aftertaste." Seline complained.


They had been picking apples from the ground for an hour or less. It was fun and refreshing for her but while she worked, Lucy just talked on and on about the designers clothes and shoes she saw online and needed to buy.


"I didn't know that," she pouted, with puppy eyes that shone bright.


“You would if you actually help me make them."


“You're the cook, Seline. The one who makes the most awesome apple pies in the world," she praised. "Now that I think of it, perhaps it’s time you open up your own restaurant or bakery. Everyone would love your pies."


Seline suddenly looked away. Her face was crestfallen and wrinkles appeared on them.


Unlike Lucy who didn't look their age, Seline looked older than the thirty-three year mother of three that she was. Her once pretty, young teenage face had since turned older over the years and her young, curious eyes had become harden. They seemed to be holding back secrets only her hearts could bear. The same way they were now, as she returned to her apple picking.


Lucy asked a question but she pretended she didn't hear her. She repeated the same question even louder and she snapped. 


“He apologised already!”


“Does he still hit you? You can't keep doing this, he will never...."


“Stop it! He loves me and I love him too. He has his reasons. Moreover, I don't even want to open up a restaurant. I have no time; juggling the kids, his needs and the house. Let's just pick the apples and go home."


Lucy watched her friend and felt her pains too. The same way she couldn't leave her marriage despite the problems, she couldn't do the same too. Despite the fact, she didn't love Dave anymore.


The lying, cheating bastard! She cursed.


Seline didn't know this fact about him but Lucy knew her husband best. She couldn't bear to tell her friend about the fact he had taken his newest mistress to London for the weekend despite the fact he had promised to stop cheating when she had confronted him the last time.

Sometimes Lucy wondered why they were so unfortunate with men. Stuck in marriages that caused more harm than good.


“Those wouldn't be enough. Let me make up for my mistakes. I will find more fresh apples at the trees close to the stream," she said, and ran off with a basket before Seline could protest.


“Oh geez, she is going the wrong way."


She saw her hurrying down a path, and then chuckled. She took her basket of fresh red apples and went after her.


***

Seline met Lucy, mortified in front of an ancient oak tree in a part of the orchard they never visit. She wanted to be mad at her for running off but when she saw what she was staring at, she froze as well. They both stared at the letters written on the trunk of the tree in a beautiful calligraphy like audience spell bounded by a hypnotist's magic. Seline read the dreaded words in shambles.


Elena Montgomery is here.


"B-but she can't be. She is dead." Lucy blurted out to her friend but she didn't hear her. She was lost in her own thoughts too. 


How is it possible?


Elena disappeared thirteen years ago. And there was that rumour that she had died or something. This can't be. If Elena is alive and here, then God helps us all. She will have our heads for what we did to her.


They were terrified for good reasons because they knew her best. Elena never forgave; she struck her enemies down with one strike.


She was Elena Montgomery after all.


***

Elena was the wildest of all. She was impulsive, friendly, sociable, popular and crazy, but the good type of crazy. The queen bee of the class of 2004, she would have made an awesome prom queen at their prom night but for the fact that she suddenly disappeared that autumn.


Elena Montgomery was smart, crooked and a daredevil who took risks most teens her age couldnt take. To everyone, she lived for herself alone, which was why she was carefree and reckless.


Elena was pretty, like really pretty. She was one of those types of girls who could pull off bikinis in model shoot, look gorgeous in cheerleaders short shirts and still looked smart in geek glasses. She was so popular most students wanted to be friends with her. How she became friends with Seline and Lucy, the awkward wannabees no one ever noticed, was a mystery. But not the type that needed Holmes to solve. Anyone with clear eyes would have seen it was because they made her looked better and it was a fact every queen needed subjects with undying loyalty to her.


Elena wasn't an only child, if you were thinking that explained her selfishness. She was also not from a wealthy home, to be clear. Her family were simple.

A simple Dad who was never around because he was in the army, a hardworking nurse as a mother and two nice and easy going twins as younger brothers.


They were good people so I guess in a way, some people are just born, bad.


While in high school, she went out with the captain of the Maths club. Strange right, for a girl that pretty? Well, he wasn't the only one she dated. Add the captain of the football team, the random guy she met at a college in Louisiana, a couple of guys not important to be named and....yeah, the one person no one had expected; Mr Frank Jefferson, their English teacher and school counsellor.


To be honest, she needed a tonne of counselling and atonements. 


"Elena, what's your plan after graduation? Any choice of College yet?" Lucy asked one day during lunch. In high school, they ate lunch together and went everywhere. The two practically stuck to her like bones and flesh.


“I don't know. Maybe Yale...or Brown. For now, I just want to live my life with no freaking worry." She had replied. And the two had noted that too in their enormous and ever growing biography of their amazing friend.


Seline wanted to go to Harvard but she didn't say it.


Lucy wanted to tell her she was considering going to Europe but she said nothing.


Only Elena got to speak.


And that was the rule.


Everything was going fine for them but weeks to their graduation, the Devil came visiting in the form of a video gone viral.


***

The video was of a female student and dear Mr Frank. They were in a compromised position and it didn't look like there was any exchange of counselling. The camera only caught a back view of the student as they had sex but it sure as hell got his face. This got everyone's interest. The whole town wanted to know who the adulterous slut was and they were ready to cast any stone at her.


Due to their eagerness and righteous sentiments, they were able to trace the pink bracelet to Elena. She denied being the one in the video but not the affair; in the end, no one believed her. The whole town hated her and branded her a slut, the worst type. She had broken up a marriage due to her desires.


The more she refuted it, the more they judged her and scorned her.


In a week, she was tagged ‘the unrepentant harlot, ‘the unredeemable mistress’, ‘the 2004 Jezebel”, “the other woman’ and even 'the red scarlet'.


In time, the antagonism caused by scandal became too much for her to bear. So, that autumn, she told her two dearest friends she was leaving town with an unnamed boyfriend.


Only two people knew this. 


Just as they knew, who the real girl in the video was and who framed Elena.


It had been a perfect plan and dumb Elena had fallen for the trap; all it took was a mere return of a stolen bracelet and spread of a few lies.


***

“Do you think she knows we were the ones who framed her?" Seline asked, now terrified of the consequences of the act she committed to save her friend years ago.


Unlike everyone, Seline had recognised Lucy in the video and confronted her. Lucy had broken down and confessed to her about the affair with him, which was why she had helped her. She felt justified then because while Lucy took her as a friend, Elena never did.


"Maybe. This doesn't look like it was written recently. It looks faded. She probably wrote it years ago when we came here with her to pick apples." Lucy said, after staring at the words for long. And since she believed it, Seline did too.


"Sure," she mumbled, but she still had her doubts. 


There was no need to pick more apples so they left the orchard where all the bad memories stayed, including the fact it was Elena's idea to always bake apple pies on Sunday morning. But t'was a tradition they couldn't bring themselves to stop ever since. After all, the dead or missing shouldn't determine how the living lived. She had to be forgotten for them to live their lives. 


However now, it didn't seem like she was truly gone. 


Lucy believed she still haunted them from hell, in her own way.


***

"Mom! Matt called me black. They were teasing me, Mom." Henry, Seline's six-year-old son ran in and cried to her, during dinner. He was a beautiful boy with sharp eyes like his mother's but he had his father's skin colour. She looked at him calmly then told him he was a black American and most people call them 'blacks'. It didn't mean anything. The poor boy just stared at her, more confused than he had ever been. Lucy saw this and frowned. She pulled him to her, smiled at him and played with his brown curly hair.


"Henry, what mommy meant is that you're an American but a special one. An African American. You are an African and also an American from two continents. Like that super hero....."


“Superman! 


“Yes, just like superman! Now, go tell those sons of mine who you really are."


She kissed his cheeks and he ran off. 


She looked at Seline and they shared a knowing look. Lucy hadn't approved of her marriage to Richard Campbell even though he was damn wealthy. He was a black and that meant something in America. However, Seline had insisted, so she never said a word again. 


Seline knew this.


The same way she knew that Dave was still cheating on her friend and didn't stop despite the divorce threat. 


They had both spent years of their lives together sharing secrets and picking apples but as time went on, they kept silent and shared nothing. It seemed like their friendship was barely holding on to its string itself.


“It's autumn so soon. I always look forward to autumn because I get to eat your apple pies, Seline. They are lovely as always." Dave suddenly said after his first bite and she thanked him for the compliment.


“It's nice of you to have come." Richard told him and he chuckled.


“Why not? We live right next door."


“That's because our wives are best friends who can't live without each other."


They all laughed at the joke except Seline. She didn't look relaxed or happy for someone who was in her home. They were still laughing when the family Butler entered and announced there was a guest at the gate. Since it was a cold evening and they weren't expecting anyone, Richard looked to his wife but she shook her head.


“Who is the guest? Did you at least ask for a name?" He demanded.


"Yes sire. She said something like Hel...yes. Elena Montgomery. She said she is here for Madam."


The clock stopped ticking.


Seline froze up.


Her face lost colour and her hands trembled as if there she was in a room filled with ice. The air became more tensed when Richard asked him to bring the guest in. Seline quickly shared a frightful look with Lucy. She felt guilty as hell.


But Lucy looked even more timorous than her as she recalled the scene where she had pushed her down the cliff that autumn.








October 16, 2020 06:50

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2 comments

Asianzu Victoria
09:27 Oct 18, 2020

This story is captivating. I wish there was a continuation. I love your work Sophie, really interesting.

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Sophie Aay
17:49 Oct 20, 2020

Oh my god, thank you. I wish I could. But word limit and writer's block might kill me.. Lol

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