Categories > Original > Drama > The Orchard0 Reviews
Sara meets Daniel, Emilie, Anna and Cam. Emilie is less than pleased about Holly bringing Sara home, but Sara has no idea why.
Holly produced a set of keys from her pocket, and I marveled at how many of them there were on one tiny ring; there must have been at least thirty keys there, and many of them seemed to have abnormal shapes. She pushed open the front door, grabbed my right wrist and gently pulled me inside with her, shutting the door behind us. The foyer was dark, but I could make out the outlines of a large staircase in front of us.
A man’s voice called from somewhere in the house. A door opened into the foyer and light flooded inside, making me temporarily blind. I had grown used to the black of the night, with only headlights and moonlight for guidance. My eyes slowly adjusted. He seemed to be about the same age as Holly, with dark hair that was slicked back and eyes so brown they were almost black. He had a goatee, and stubble covering the rest of his cheekbones. He smiled and began to say something to Holly, but then he noticed my presence and his smile disappeared quickly.
He looked me up and down; dirty bare feet, tattered and stained white sundress, brown leather jacket that was at least six sizes too big for me, limp and greasy blonde hair. The disapproving look in his eyes made me uneasy. “And why’s she wearin’ my jacket?”
“Relax, Danny. I found her in town, wandering around; she’s got some deal with her boyfriend and needs a place to stay. She was cold so I gave her your jacket, she’ll give it back, don’t worry.”
I looked up at Holly, bewildered at how fast she had lied. Danny seemed suspicious still, but took Holly’s word and turned around, back into the room the bright light had come from. Holly went with him and I followed cautiously.
Now we were in a large, airy kitchen with old oak cupboards and cracked white marble counter tops. Dirty white porcelain plates and coffee mugs were stacked beside the sink, the remnants of meals crusting over the surfaces of the plates, coffee and lipstick stains covering the mugs. The air was stale, and I got the impression that the kitchen was not used very often. Danny disappeared through another door, but Holly walked over to the sink. She opened a cupboard, pulled out one of those white coffee mugs, and held it under the tap. Once it was full of water, she handed it to me, and I meekly accepted it. I forced a smile to show my gratitude.
“You’re probably hungry too.”
I shook my head ‘no’.
“Come on; look at you, skin and bones, nothing more. I’d cook you up somethin’ hot but I’m pretty terrible in the kitchen, honestly. None of us are that great. We sort of live off of whatever comes out of the orchard or the garden. We’ve got some chickens that lay eggs, too. We’re all strict vegetarians.”
“Yeah, it was probably too dark for you to see the trees, but we’ve got about twenty apple trees, and a big vegetable garden. We sell a lot of what we grow. I work at the saw mill in town, so that combined with the money we make from growing is what floats us all,” she explained, “Anyway, yeah. We suck at cooking, I hope you like raw produce.”
“I do. I’m just not hungry right now, thanks.”
Holly sighed and leaned back on the edge of the sink.
“You’re gonna be a tough one, chicky, I can feel it already.”
I blushed and ducked my head low, allowing several stringy pieces of hair to fall in front of my eyes. Holly laughed, and shivers went up and down my spine. I looked up at her again, my eyes wide.
She had the happiest, most genuinely beautiful laugh I had ever heard in my life. That’s when I really noticed how attractive she was; on the bridge, she had just been a woman looking like she’d just come from the mill, but now, she seemed different. Her eyes really were bright, brighter than they had been in the glow of her truck’s headlights on the bridge. Though she was well-built, she had a distinctly feminine form that I could imagine men going crazy over. Standing there, leaning back on the edge of the sink, she didn’t seem as tough as she had before. Now, she seemed warm and friendly. She grinned at me, obviously amused by my deer-in-the-headlights antics.
The door that Daniel had just disappeared through was thrown open again, banging against the wall loudly, and a girl strode in. She was only about five feet tall, and extremely petite. She had bright red hair down to her shoulders, frizzy curls framing her freckled face. Her eyes were pale blue, and her lips were curled into a frown. She did not look twice at me and made a beeline for Holly.
“Daniel told me you brought some girl home,” she snapped.
“Chill, Em. She’s cool.”
“Do you even know who the fuck she is?” the girl’s voice was raised now.
She seemed livid, and I shrank back into a more shadowed part of the kitchen.
“I found her on the side of the road, barefoot and crying because she got into a fight with her boyfriend. She doesn’t know anybody around here, they were traveling and he ditched her. What was I supposed to do, just leave her?”
Holly’s eyes grew cloudy.
“That’s not what you said when you brought Cam home.”
“That’s different, Holly, at least I knew who the fuck he was, I don’t care if he was an outsider, at least he wasn’t some random stranger I found on the side of the road, she could have been p-”
“Emilie, shut the fuck up!”
Both Holly and Emilie were yelling now. Despite the fact that Holly had a good six inches on her, Emilie was holding herself in a very aggressive manner, and I had a feeling that her size was no bearing on her temper or how well she could fight. Legs spread apart and fists balled at her side, I made the decision then to never underestimate her.
Once again, the kitchen door banged open, and in came Daniel, another boy and another girl. The girl was very tall with white-blonde hair, and the boy was about as short as I was and had a mop of mousy brown curls. He looked over at me shyly, and then turned away immediately. I could not tell what colour his eyes were under all that hair.
“What’s going on?” Daniel demanded.
“Holly brought some reject off the streets is what’s going on,” Emilie spat, her eyes never leaving Holly.
“Watch your goddamn mouth, Emilie, I swear to God.” Holly said in a low, dangerous voice.
The entire kitchen was quiet for several moments, until the sound of a shatter turned everybody’s attention towards me. My hands had been shaking so badly that I’d dropped the white coffee mug, and now chunks of porcelain littered the floor beneath me. I was mortified.
“Awh, honey,” the blonde girl said with sympathy.
She hurried over to my part of the kitchen, picking up pieces of white porcelain while I stood there, frozen with shock and embarrassment.
“See, Em, you scared her,” she continued, “She looks harmless enough, give her a break. I’m sure it’s exactly like Holly says it is, would you look at her?”
She stood up and threw the broken pieces into a garbage can, then turned back to me. She pushed several strands of hair behind my ear with her right hand and straightened the collar of the oversized leather jacket with the other. Her eyes were full of pity.
“We’ll get you out of those clothes soon, honey.”
Emilie unclenched her fists and turned to look at me, long and hard. She took a step forward.
“Yes,” my voice was barely above a whisper.
She stared a moment longer, suspicion clear on her face, and then said,
“There aren’t any Arthurs around here.”
“I’m not from around here.”
She seemed to decide then that I was telling the truth, and nodded in approval.
“I’m Emilie Maille,” she said, and she stuck out one slender hand. I took it and we shook. Then, with one final critical look, she turned and walked out of the kitchen. The air lifted instantly.
“You okay?” Holly asked me.
“This is Anna,” she told me, pointing to the blonde, “And that’s Cam,” she pointed at the other boy.
Anna smiled at me, but Cam simply raised one hand in a weak greeting before turning and scurrying after Emilie, his hair covering his eyes. Daniel turned to me, glanced at my dirty feet, then said;
“Anna, show her where the bathroom is so she can clean up, and give her some clean clothes.”
Anna seemed pleased to do so.
“Come on!” she said, and began pulling me towards the door the others had just gone through. Before we left the room I tried to catch Holly’s eye one more time, but she was staring at Daniel intently, her arms crossed. I had a feeling that whatever that had been all about, it wasn’t over just yet.