"Oliver, is she going to die?" A tiny voice whispered behind the thick trunk of the tree that shaded a vast majority of the yard. Two figures huddled together at the base, leaned up against the rough bark. One was a young girl of twelve in a blue cotton dress, her dark hair a tangled mess around her face that matted and stuck with the tears trailing from her eyes. The second was a boy of fourteen who looked off across the yard, as if he were trying to come up with an answer that would make sense.
But he couldn't.
"I don't know, Jane. She's old and sick," Oliver replied some time later. The thick heat in the air made their words and movements slow and they breathed heavily as if there was very little air at all.
"I don't want her to," Jane continued, "My mother is gone, and my father is always away." She paused, letting out a small sob. She looked over at Oliver, he looked a million miles away. He always had that look. He was an excellent dreamer, always came up with the most clever ideas. He had been her best friend since she could remember.
"Ollie?" She whispered.
"I want to say goodbye," she replied. He looked over at her and gave a small nod before standing up. The crossed the lawn together, up the porch, and into the cavernous house.
The hallway upstairs was dark, and eerily quiet. One of the maids swished past the children, gave them a dissaproving, yet sad look and continued on.
"You go in," Ollie prodded, pushing Jane to the door. It was hotter in the room that in had been outside. But the window stayed shut and the curtains drawn. Her grandmother lay on the bed, stiff and unmoving. Jane feared she had already died, but the old woman stirred.
"Jane, my sweet, come here," she beckoned with a thin, bony arm. Jane crossed the room and sat at the foot of the bed and grasped the old woman's hand in her own.
"I don't have much longer, my old bones just can't keep it up anymore," she laughed for a moment, "There won't be anyone else to watch over you, my son is a busy, unfocused man and I have a feeling he's going to remarry any one of these days now. I want you to be careful, Jane. Don't trust her..."
"Who?" Jane asked, leaning in.
"He'll remarry, and it will be a gold digging hussy, if you ask me," her grandmother snorted, "I want you to do what makes you happy, you hear me?" Jane nodded, a tear escaping her eye.
"Here," the old woman said, handing her a small parcel wrapped in a silk hankerchief, "I want you to have all my treasures." Jane reached for the parcel, and cradled it in her arms. She leaned closer and wrapped herself around the limp body.
"I love you," she sobbed.
"And I the same," her grandmother responded, "Please send Oliver in, will you? He's like one of my own." Jane nodded, and paused briefly at the door before returning to Oliver's questioning face at the door.
"She wants you," was all Jane could say. Oliver nodded, straightened himself and went inside, closing the door behind him. Jane stuck her ear to the door, but she couldn't hear a word, and soon retreated to sitting on the floor, clutching the little hankerchief bundle in her hands.
It seemed like an eternity before Oliver returned, his face was stiff. He seemed like he had aged in the time he had spent in the room with the dying woman. He looked down at Jane, and she looked up at him, and he offered her his hand to help her up. But he didn't let go, and he led her outside, back to the tree where the sat in silence for the rest of the afternoon while they waited for the body to be taken away.