Lost and Found (Part 7)
“How was it?” Hannah asked once she got home later that day. She was on her bed reading a book as Lydia entered the room.
Tired, Lydia plopped herself on her cousin’s desk chair across from her. It’d only been a couple of hours away from home, but the massive amounts of food, playing kickback with the twins, and a looming sense of uncertainty as to how she felt about Jasmine had left her utterly exhausted.
“Not bad, I take it?”
“All right, I guess,” Lydia shrugged, too tired to even open her eyes. “I played kickball with the Singhs’ sons.”
“Oh, they’re so adorable! I see them in town sometimes playing with the Yamamoto’s kids. Nice…haven’t heard of you playing kickball in a while, either.”
“Yeah, it’s been a while…”
Hannah gave a moment’s silence before asking her.
“So, about her…” she drawled mischievously.
“Did you talk to her?”
“Course I did. As we were watching the twins play.”
“No,” she lied. She was still not comfortable accepting what had happened, as small as it’d seemed.
Hannah studied her intently. Lydia tried to avoid meeting her eyes, as if she would give it away if she did.
“It’s okay, Lyddie.”
She looked up. Hannah’s blue eyes, usually sharp and attentive, now regarded her softly with understanding.
“I’m not you, but I know you well enough to know you like her. I saw it back at the market in August when you served her. Never interacted with her, but she looks like a nice person. I’m sure if you just open up a bit more, it might actually work out.”
“No, that’s not true,” Lydia shook her head.
“Because she already has someone.”
“Oh…” Hannah’s mouth formed a small “O” as she realized her error. “Sorry, I didn’t know that she…”
“No, no. It’s fine, Hannah. Just forget it.”
“But will you forget it?” Hannah questioned, her gaze concerned.
“I don’t know, really.”
Another moment of silence passed.
“I’m not sure what you ought to do, but I guess it’s a matter of keeping a distance if she already is romantic with somebody else. Sounds painful, I know, but especially if she isn’t showing those kinds of signs, it’s not going to go anywhere.”
Lydia shifted in her seat, debating whether she wanted to tell her or not.
“Well, something actually happened…” she whispered.
“Wait, what?” Hannah’s attention perked up.
“She, well, she touched my face a bit when I told her about my mother’s death. But I don’t think it meant much…”
“No, Lyddie,” Hannah clicked her tongue in disagreement. “That is something! Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“Because I don’t think she meant it that way.”
“Oh, c’mon!” Hannah cried out, a bit too loudly. Lydia shushed her frantically, not wanting her aunt to hear them. Hannah lowered her voice, but the excitement in her voice remained. “Listen here, do you know of any friends who touch each other’s faces?”
“I don’t think so…”
“No, they don’t. This means something, Lyddie. I think if you care enough for her, you’d want to see if she likes you, too. I don’t know if she likes her partner, either, but make that a topic to talk about next time you see her. If you don’t do that for yourself, then at least do it for me.”
Lydia had to smile. Hannah meant well, and she gave good advice for being just a few months older than her. But she also liked to pry into other people’s lives and loved a good story to talk about with the farm girls in town. She loved the drama, whether the story was true or not.
She let out another loud sigh.
“I guess I do care about her…” she started, the words difficult to say, but feeling right as well. “But I’ve only known her for a short amount of time. How do I know if it’s not just infatuation? Or if I just admire her? Our social lives are so different, same with status and, I don’t know, if I do something, will it all be worth it in the end?”
Hannah stared at her, mildly surprised that her usual-laconic cousin spoke so much and so quickly. She reached out and placed a hand on top of hers.
“It’s about deciding then. About being brave if you choose to do it. And being brave to move on if it doesn’t work out.”
Lydia trembled a bit, a flood of emotions seizing her body. She’d never felt so anxious, so confused, yet oddly at ease with herself.
“I’ll think about it.”
Hannah nodded, pulling her hand away from hers. She gave a small, encouraging smile but looking down at Lydia’s feet, her white dress shoes still on and dirtied from kickball.
“Looks like you didn’t keep your promise,” she said irritably, but also smirked to forgive her.
“That game of kickball was just too good to resist,” Lydia playfully retorted, kicking off the shoes. “But I’ll clean them, though, don’t worry.”
“Thanks, Lyddie,” Hannah laughed. “Much appreciated. Need them for my rendezvous this week, by the way, so the sooner, the better.”
“You’re seeing someone?” Lydia gaped. Her cousin might be talkative and charming with everyone in town, but to get intimate with somebody was a bit hard to fathom. Hannah loved the idea of love, and Lydia never took her attempts to flirt with the farm boys seriously.
“Maybe, maybe not,” Hannah replied, her eyes gleaming secretively. “But I did have my eye on this special someone for a while, and we’ve talked a few times in town when I bought groceries. You know him—he sells the cucumbers and eggplants at the weekend market.”
“The boy with the sandy hair and straw hat?”
“Yeah, Liam. He does a really good job of selling, too. And his cucumbers are always so large and abundant…” she joked suggestively.
Lydia hit her on the arm, and Hannah fell back on her bed, laughing uncontrollably.
“That’s disgusting, Hannah!”
“But it’s true. And you know it,” her cousin roared with laughter. Lydia jumped on her, tickling her, not stopping until Hannah relented.
“Girls!” they both sprang apart. Her aunt was in the doorway, with her nightgown on and an irritated expression on her face. “What is going on here?”
“We’re just playing around,” Hannah responded, slightly out of breath and giggling. Lydia smoothed down her mother’s dress, slightly wrinkled from the jovial altercation.
Her aunt turned to her.
“Lunch went well?”
“Yes, it was good.”
“Good,” her aunt nodded approvingly. “Let’s hope they invite you back for more. More for business, too.”
“…and more for pleasure,” Hannah interjected, snickering a bit. Lydia shot her a death glare.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing at all,” Lydia replied quickly.
“Well, girls. I’m off to bed now. No more horseplay, you hear? Unless you want to spend the next couple of weeks accompanying me to the hinterlands to trade goods…”
Both girls groaned loudly. The journey took at least two weeks, and they would prefer staying back to glean than to listen to her rant and complain about how slow it took to reach there.
“That’s what I thought. Goodnight, girls.”
“Goodnight, Mother,” Hannah replied. She shut the door once she left, and returned to her bed. Lydia stood beside the frame, unsure of whether to say it.
Hannah looked at her.
“I know that you like getting into people’s business…”
“That’s an overstatement,” she chuckled sarcastically. Upon looking at Lydia’s solemn expression, however, she put on a straight face. “Okay, sorry. What do you want to tell me?”
“I, well, just would like it if you didn’t tell anyone about what might be happening with me and Jasmine. Again, I don’t think it’s something, but I just don’t want rumors spreading around town. That wouldn’t be good for our business, too. Is that okay?”
Hannah nodded seriously.
“Of course, Lyddie. I know what you mean. As excited as I am for your love life, I won’t say a word.”
Lydia knew she meant it—her cousin might love gossiping, but she knew her boundaries when it came to sensitive information, especially with her family. Lydia felt reassured, and left the room to get ready for bed. She would figure out what to do later, and she hoped that it would work out in the end.
For the last six parts, check them out here.
— The Finicky Cynic
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