"I found this in the backyard. I think it's a vial of snake venom."
Melissa stood under the shadow of a banana tree, something silver glittering in her left palm. Her green eyes glittered, too, the madness in them stark against the white. Jessica sighed and brushed her hair off her shoulders. Today was one of those days that tried her patience, that made her almost wish her elder sister had been born normal, like everyone else's siblings.
As soon as the thought crossed her mind, though, a pang of guilt pierced clean through her and she instantly regret ever thinking that. She carefully arranged a smile on her face and beckoned to her sister.
"Come here, sweetie, and let me see what you've got. Would you like some lemonade, dear? It's pink, your favorite."
Melissa nodded and walked slowly towards Jessica, still holding whatever it was she had found. She was always finding objects and claiming they were the most outlandish things. Just yesterday, she'd found a thimble beneath the sofa, which she mistook for a key.
"But I need it to unlock the door," she'd protested when Jessica calmly took it out of Melissa's hand and placed it back into their mother's sewing kit.
She had simply done then what she'd always done, what she did even now -- ignore Melissa. It was foolish to argue with the insane, as they did not see things in a logical way. And the one time Jessica had been careless enough to try to explain to her sister why their cat Muffin did not want to eat custard, Melissa had only gotten upset and needed a sedative.
Melissa was cupping the object in her hand gingerly now, not seeming to want to hand it over to Jessica. Strangely enough, it did look like a vial.
Jessica held out a glass of pink lemonade, shaking it slightly so that the ice clinked in a tantalizing way. "Here, you go, love, have some pink lemonade. Just hand me that vial, I'll take care of it."
The temptation of icy cold lemonade on this hot summer's day was too much; Melissa surrendered the small vial and skipped back to her tree with her glass.
Jessica sat back down on the rocking chair and laid her magazine aside. The vial was silver and slightly opaque, but clear enough so that she could see the liquid moving within. She carefully removed the stopper and brought it up to her nostrils, but she didn't smell anything. Could it actually be -- ?
Just then she heard their mother's voice calling her from inside the house, "Jessica, there's a Tony Luponi on the phone for you. Is your sister out there with you?"
Jessica hastily put the stopper back on the vial, replying, "Yeah, mom. She's fine. She's out here with me. I'm coming in now."
"All right, dear. I'll go out and keep an eye on her."
Jessica ran into the house, forgetting about the vial, forgetting even about Melissa. Tony Luponi had been making eyes at her all week, and she'd been hoping he would call -- next week was the Senior Prom, and she still didn't have a date.
But Melissa did not forget about the vial. She had been waiting for the moment when she could recapture it, and no sooner had Jessica run indoors that she'd skipped nimbly back to the porch and grabbed the vial.
"I know just the thing to do with you," she said aloud, before deftly sliding it into her back pocket.