#3

It hadn’t occurred to Olivia that Tom would even ask her.

“I told you I’m here about the chem homework,” she said, twisting a fallen lock of hair.

Tom laughed. “Listen, are you going to the homecoming dance with me or not?”

Of course she would, she knew she would say yes. It was just a matter of how to say it. Her mother had always told her to be careful about boys. She didn’t care.

“I’d love to,” she said.

“Good. Take a seat on the couch and hang out for a little while,” Tom said, pulling her toward the sofa.

“I really have to get going,” she said, trying to leave.

“Don’t you just want to relax a little while? I know you probably need a break from all that studying for chemistry.”

She sat down next to Tom, not saying a word.

“Paul, pass that over here,” Tom said. Paul passed him the small roll of burning brown paper. He took a long drag off it, then reclined, putting his arm around Olivia. “You want some?” he asked.

She watched the smoke curl off the end of the blunt, clouding Tom’s face. “I don’t think I should. I have to get home for dinner.”

“You’re parents will be glad then. Stuff gives you a pretty strong appetite,” Tom said, laughing to himself over his own cleverness.

He stuck the joint in Olivia’s fingers. “Just inhale and relax,” Tom said. Paul looked on at the two of them, slack-jawed and dazed.

Olivia continued to watch the paper burn, unsure of what she wanted to do next.

***

“Louise, I got a call from Aunt Magnolia this afternoon,” said Annette.

A little static came through the receiver. “You didn’t tell her we’re all going to visit her, did you?” Louise asked, “You know I can’t stand that old place.”

Annette twisted the phone cord out  of habit. “I told her I’d see what everyone was up to. I know Redmond, Olivia, and I are going. You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but I think it’d be nice. Now that mom and dad are gone, we don’t exactly have many relatives left.”

“Do you remember how creepy that place is? I know you always ate that stuff up, but I’ll never forget the night I heard voices in the room you and I slept in down there. I tell you that place is haunted, and I absolutely, positively refuse to go.”

“Don’t you think you’re being selfish? She and Uncle Vinton don’t have much time left. They haven’t seen much of their own family in years, and we’re the only one’s they’ve got left.”

Annette heard Louise sigh on the other end. “I’ll go, but I’m leaving the second something happens that’s just not right. Don’t you remember the stories mom used to tell us about Aunt Magnolia? She messes around with some pretty bizarre stuff.”

“I’ll talk to you later, Louise,” Annette said, hanging up the phone. She had enough of her sister’s accusations about her favorite aunt.

Still, the thought of Aunt Magnolia’s old home did cause a small shiver to run down her spine. She hadn’t thought about the weirdness of the place since she was a child, only the good memories. Something sinister was about to return. She could feel it.

END

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