The sisters had been tolerable liars for many years. The grandest of their lies was that were wealthy and had no need for income. In fact, as the whole town knew, they were poor, had no relatives who could support them, and were considered mad. Their house stood on the outskirts, was dark in daytime and dark at night. No one called, not even the postman, for they never received mail, nor visitors. Except one mid-winter at sunset I called, mistaking the place for a derelict that might be for sale. It had a handy block of land attached and I could make out, even in the falling light, a grove I took to be olives. I knocked loudly, thinking there’d be no answer. I waited and waited then entered, the door creaking with age. It took me a while before my eyes focussed on four eyes glaring back at me.
Yes? one set asked.
We heard you knock, the second added.
I am sorry to disturb. I thought no one was at home.
We are at home, said the first eyes.
Yes, said the second.
I had the sense they were examining me closely.
I can leave now if you prefer?
Oh no. You are here. Why don’t you have a drink. You have come far and must be thirsty. Perhaps a meal. We can make something for you, can’t we Charlotte?
I think we can Emily. It would be nice to cook again for a guest.
It would be fun. Do stay Mr…?
Please call me John.
Mr John. We will light the candles.
I will get the matches Charlotte.
Thank you Emily. Then Mr John can sit and relax while we prepare him a meal.
I didn’t relax. The water tasted of rust and was lukewarm. The table was filthy and cockroaches were manifest. I saw a rat behind a ripped curtain. The sisters didn’t stop talking. To each other. It was like I wasn’t there, until they had finished and turned their attention my way.
How do you like your food Mr John?
It’s very tasty. (It was vile.)
Have you come far?
Not far. But I got lost. I must have taken a wrong turn.
That happens. This is a long way from anywhere.
Mr John. Will you stay the night? We have rooms.
That is kind Ms Emily. But I have a room booked in the town.
Oh. We were hoping you would stay, weren’t we Charlotte?
Yes Mr John. All we are seeking is kindness…
Haven’t you forgotten something Charlotte?
Of course Emily. And love.
[to be continued]
c John Pitt / 2021