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The lady named Olive

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Every morning, I look out the window, and I see the old lady who lives across the street. Something has always bothered me about that woman. I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was how she never talked to anyone in the neighborhood, or maybe it was because her house was old and worn down unlike the rest of the houses. The thing that troubled me the most was how every morning at exactly 7:00 she would stand outside her house for around 5 minutes. Then she would go back in and you wouldn’t see her until the next morning. She never even came out to go shopping or to get the mail. Normally around noon once a week a man, I’m assuming it’s her son, goes to her house and brings her food and her mail. I don’t why she frightened me. She looked like a normal old lady. She was just so different from the rest of us. I spent so long trying everything I could to avoid her, but over time my curiosity got the best of me.
It was on December 15, 2008, when I woke up, looked out the window and saw the old woman standing on her front porch like she always did. Only this morning was different. For some reason I had an overwhelming urge to go and talk to her. It took a while for me to gather up the courage, but eventually I made it to the front door. The door was old and wooden, with a bunch of cracks in it. There was no door bell, so I just knocked. I waited a few seconds and knocked again. Finally there was a response.
“What do you want?” yelled the old lady in the most unpleasant tone.
I wanted to run away and never come back, but I had to do this. I didn’t know why I just had to.
“Uh-I-I-It is your neighbor. My name’s Peter and I was just wondering if we could talk.” I replied
“Talk about what?” She answered back.
“Stu-stu-stuff” I said back. I know it wasn’t the best response, but after a few seconds of hesitating, she let me in.
The inside of her house looked nothing like the outside. It was beautiful! The walls were painted white. And the floor was all shiny. I followed the lady down a long, narrow hallway and into the living room. She pointed to an old Victorian style couch and I sat down.
“Now what did you want to talk about?” the lady asked, Only this time in a much kinder tone.
I thought for a second.
“I just wanted to say hi.” I replied
“ Is that the real reason you came over?’.” Asked the lady, sounding more paranoid this time.
“Yes, well, no. I-I- I was just wondering why you never come out of your house! It bothers me! You’re so different from the rest of us. It just doesn’t make sense!” I said back.
The lady paused for quite a while. It became clear that I had made her very uncomfortable. I was ashamed of what I just said. It was mean and I didn’t think before I said it, but it was too late. The words were already out.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be here. I wasn’t trying to be mean, I’m just curious. Goodbye” I said as I jumped off the couch and began to race out of the house .
“Wait!” shouted the old lady.
“Please sit down.”
I slowly turned around and returned to the couch.
“I think it’s only fair that you know the truth.” She said slowly.
I was getting worried and I felt bad, because it looked hard for her to talk about.
“First of all my name is Olive Esther. I’d rather you call me Olive, but it’s your choice.”
I remained silent. At least now I could refer to her as someone other than “The Old Lady”.
“I have a son his name Jordan. You may see him every once and while when he comes over to bring me groceries.”
I was right about the man being her son.
“I don’t think you really care about that stuff do you?”
I didn’t respond. I was frozen.
“You want to know why I never leave the house is that right?”
This time I nodded.
“Well, you see.” Olive started out. It took a while for her to start up again.
“The outside world is a dangerous place, a place I choose not to go.”
I didn’t understand. How could someone not be able to go outside?
“It’s called agoraphobia. I cannot control it. I used to be able to go where ever I wanted”
“That doesn’t make any sense. How can you not go outside? Are there people after you? Did you do something bad? I asked trying to figure out what she meant.
Olive Chuckled then took a deep breath.
“I don’t blame you for not understanding. I didn’t do anything bad. Agoraphobia is a condition. A condition which limits my ability to leave my me.” Olive responded.
There were so many things going through my mind.
“Why don’t you just try? I’ll help you. There are so many things out there that you are missing.” I said.
“Oh honey. It’s not that easy. I do the best I can, and if five minutes is all I can do, then it’s all I will do. I’ve been trying for 30 years. My son has even given up trying to help me. Anyways I’m happy in this house.” She replied.
She said she was happy, but the way she looked down when she was finished talking made me think otherwise.
We talked for another hour or so. Once I was home and in my bed, I lay there the rest of the night thinking about her. I don’t know how I could have been so afraid of her. I never even gave her a chance. I judged her so quickly. I fell asleep with these thoughts in my head.
I returned to her house the next day, and every day after that. Eventually those 5 minutes outside on her front porch turned into ten. Then 15.Then 20. And now she is free to go where ever she wants, whenever she wants. Mrs. Olive Esther was not only a friend, but she also taught me a very valuable lesson. Even though she was so different from the rest of us, she taught me more and inspired me more than anybody else I have ever known.





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