A beam of moonlight stepped over the balcony and was lying on the bed. Starry figures bloomed in the dark inky pot above. A sudden craving of thirst found Adele sitting up straight in her bed, stretching her arms and yawning like a ferocious bear. Chocolate strings of hair were tangled up in a ponytail leaving a few trails on her forehead. Her eyelids felt heavy as she tried to get up from her pink dyed bed sheet. Her sight stumbled on the sleeping Hawaiians and the silent houses chirping in the dark. She fluttered her lids rapidly to drive away from the drowsiness when a languorous tear trickled down her right eye accompanied by a wide yawn.
A sound rushed from the next bedroom in a row, loud enough to bring Adele back to her senses. She pulled her navy dipped nightgown up for an easy run and dashed towards the symmetrical bedroom. Pieces of glass surrounded the windowpane like bits of beads of a broken kaleidoscope. Adele peeped down from the shattered window and found a running shadow waiting for her in the midst of moonlight.
She made the wise decision to clean the mess up later whilst late dawn. While forming an unknown path in the dark, she fumbled on a piece of stone, the culprit of her new headache. Her hands laced around a wrinkled paper wrapped around the stone. It took her no longer to understand that she was obliged to receive a secret message, thanks to Sherlock Holmes extracts. She carried the white piece of the engraved letter and threw the stone away. Under Adele’s silver table lamp, the letters showed up forming a sentence. No weird letters, no confusing shapes, no riddles, just a simple sentence
‘Dig under the lemon tree.’ it said with a picture imprinted on the paper. It was Bob’s photograph back when he was in the military.
Adele stared at the soot-covered photograph of her long lost husband. Bob had died two years ago in a plotted car crash but the unknown victim is still running out of law’s austere circles. The police had pulled their hands up and closed the case deliberately stating some baseless reasons. Adele tried for months, gathering up the clues, talking to Bob’s colleagues but no success and now the clues have themselves walked towards her.
Dig under the lemon tree she thought but that made no sense. There was no lemon tree rooted around her except…
Except for the haunted house.
A couple named Mr and Mrs Courtemanche had died there a few years ago leaving disguised screams and screeches behind them, giving their mansion a new hobby to scare people. Myths started floating in the air and ever since that, no one ever wandered around the spider-webbed house. In the middle of the house had outgrown a lemon tree. Its spiralling leaves and golden fruits saw the face of sunlight through the broken roof and rainfall became its only survival. Adele could be counted as one of those Amazons who had no fear to face the unknown. She ordered herself to follow her only hope and visit the Courtemanche’s house in the morning.
Dreams flew off before they even touched Adele’s sensors. Only one thought played in the back of her mind. ‘I have to find my husband’s killer. Whoever he is, he’s got a grave danger running behind him.’ Fumes of anger and revenge burned in her veins.
After a few awakened hours, Adele finally decided to call her sister to share the bricks of pain on her spine. Being an orphanage, she was her only shoulder. She told her sister the whole incident and bought some encouraging words in return.
The next morning, she walked her way to the destined house, passing through the raised brows, warning signs and people calling her crazy but that wasn’t important. The main door of the house was unexpectedly unlatched and opened with a scary creek. Dust slept on every object woven with spider webs and small caught insects. A proud lemon tree stood in the middle of the hall, rising from thin loamy soil.
It’s quite strange to see a lemon tree grow in the middle of the house despite the harsh challenges it is facing to keep itself alive. I wish humans were like that too. I wished they knew that giving up is not the solution. If we try we can still find happiness in hard moments and keep ourselves going.
She got distracted with a sudden owl hoot. ‘Dig under the lemon tree’ she remembered. She shaped her hands like claws and started digging until her scratched hands hit a hard stone. She dug the stone out and following the series, another curled paper was wrapped around it. Adele unwrapped the white paper in desperation and found another message waiting patiently for her.
‘Squeezed lemons on deep blue cuts.’
Adele frowned and yelled in frustration. “Ugh! Is someone playing a prank or what! I am done playing these games.” She shouted, banging her hands on the wooden floor. “Squeezed lemons on deep blue cuts.” she mimicked in a funny tone. She felt the cold air around her get warm for a fraction of seconds. She took a deep breath and calmed herself.
Blue cuts...cuts...that means wounds...deep wounds...my deepest wound is Bob’s death!
But, what does this mean, blue cuts? Blue….uhm….blue...wait!
An anticipated bell rang inside her head. She ran back towards her house, climbed the stairs and started hurtling the clothes in her wardrobe. Finally, she spotted it. A king blue coat with golden threads swirling in the corners. It was Bob’s favourite coat. She moved her hands hastily, checking each pocket and turning it upside down. There it was, a letter signed by Bob. A bead of tear slipped down Adele’s sweaty hot cheeks. She calmed herself down, took a few deep sighs and dived into the letter.
This is really important. My life is in danger. I am running out of time Adele, Help me. It-it is your sister. She has been giving me a lot of threats to kill our child but I got too scared and I sent him to India. She sent one of her agents to get me killed but I dodged that. I don’t think this Tom and Jerry game will last any longer. She warned me not to inform the police or else I- I will see your carcass as a present. I am sorry for everything. I will always love you.
That night, the constellations found Adele, curled up in the corner of her room, crying her heart out in the shadows of ruth.