A little girl finds out that the reclusive old lady who lived in the next house was once a child star, after which she befriends her and changes her life.
June Asher caught sight of her when she was a child of seven years — the old lady who lived in the next house. For some reason, the woman's face would always tug at her memory as though she had met her before, but June could never figure out where or when.
Her face was a beautiful one that, despite her age, was free of wrinkles, but the woman was hardly ever seen wandering outside her home.
June noticed that her next door neighbor never came out and didn't talk to anyone | Source: Shutterstock
When her curiosity got the best of her, June asked her mom, who told her that the woman was what people termed a "recluse." "What's that mama?" June had asked excitedly.
"It's the word for someone who avoids talking to other people or making friends with them," June's mother, Amber, said.
"That sounds very lonely!" June said sadly. "I wonder if she ever has someone to talk to."
"Stay well out of her way June," Amber warned.
Knowing her daughter, she would continue snooping anyways, but the mother still felt the need to caution her. As Amber feared, June did not stay away from the woman next door, instead choosing to keep an eye out for her.
The old hermit only left her home once every week, which was for a supply trip to the town store. That day, June watched her leave, after which she made sure she was outside frolicking in the garden when the woman returned.
"Hi there!" the girl greeted. "How are you doing today?" The old lady paused to stare at June the first time it happened.
"You mean me?" she had asked in a voice rusty from disuse.
June was fascinated by the old lady next door | Source: Unsplash
"Yes!" said June excitedly. "I wanted to say hi and also ask if you would join me for tea!"
"I despise tea," said the old woman rudely. "But I dislike talking to strangers even more."
"That is only reasonable when you're the child," June said reasonably. "I'm the child so I should be afraid of strangers. That means it's OK for you to talk to me."
"Well I have no desire to!" the old lady said in exasperation before marching into her house and slamming the door shut behind her.
June stared after her for some time before she returned and went into her own home. The old lady's reaction had only gotten June more curious, and now she was hellbent on becoming her friend.
The girl wanted to know more about the old lady and why she had chosen to keep the world locked out. June watched the old lady even more closely, and one day she even went as far as sneaking up to her porch and peeking through her window.
What she saw amazed her. She couldn't believe it! The old lady's house was a haven of strange and wonderful-looking objects, many of which June didn't recognize!
The old lady had no interest in talking to June | Source: Unsplash
With her face pressed against the dusty glass of the old lady's home and her attention held down by the objects, June got carried away.
After a minute passed, she felt something lay on her shoulder, causing her to scream and fall down on her rear end. When she looked up, she saw the old lady glaring down at her.
"What are you doing, you little imp?" the old lady growled, causing June to unleash big fat tears which rolled down her cheeks. It seemed to touch the old lady whose face immediately softened.
"Oh, no!" she said. "Please, don't cry! I just wanted to scare you good..." The old lady pulled June to her feet and then hugged her.
"I'm so sorry!" she told the stunned child. "I'm a crotchety old woman and I've become quite a nasty one too! Don't mind me!"
June quickly got over her fright, and after she stopped crying, she whispered, "Why are you like that? I just want to be friends!"
The old lady sighed then said, "I'm afraid of getting hurt again. That's what happens when you care about people too much."
June quickly shook her head. "I won't do that to you!" she promised, then raised her palms. "See? Mommy says I can't hurt a fly."
"I can see that pumpkin," said the old lady. "You know what, why don't you come in and have some cake and tea with me?" And with that, June gained entry into the mysterious place no other person had entered in years.
With her face pressed against the dusty glass of the old lady's home and her attention held down by the objects, June got carried away | Source: Pexels
Her eyes went as round as the moon when she looked around and saw big movie posters everywhere. They contained photos of a pretty little girl around her age.
"Shirley Shipley in 'The Littlest Princess'" they announced, or "Shirley Shipley in 'Circus Kid'"
There were framed images of movie stars, and there were also beautiful costumes, most of which were exactly June's size! "WOW!" she gasped. "These are great! Everyone should see this!"
"Oh, don't be so extra," the old lady said, waving her hand. "Nobody cares about these things anymore!"
"Yes they do!" said June. "There's a large Shirley Shipley fan club online, and there are reruns and revivals! Even children dress up like her for Halloween!"
The old lady was so stunned her mouth was left hanging open. "They do? Are you sure? ..." she asked, then she smiled, and June finally remembered why she recognized her.
"You're her! Shirley Shipley, the famous child star!"
"I used to be," said the old lady bitterly. "Now I'm just old, forgotten, and very lonely."
"Where's your husband?" asked Mary. "Or children?"
"I used to have a husband," said Shipley. "But he died and shortly after, our little daughter got sick and followed too. Being famous and rich didn't help me then."
Shirley smiled, looking once more like the child star she had been when June told her kids would love to see her stuff | Source: Pexels
"You don't have to be that way anymore, you know!" said June. "I can be your friend, and I'm sure many kids would love to see all your wonderful stuff as well!"
Shirley smiled, looking once more like the child star she had been. "You think so? Oh, I don't know... This all seems like such a big mess, and it's so dusty, where shall I start!"
"Mom would help!" said June happily. "You could have your own museum filled with your keepsakes!"
The following day, Shirley, June, and her mom started working on putting her house in order. They cleaned the dusty windows, got rid of the cobwebs, and cleaned all the rooms.
Thanks to June spreading the word, everyone learned that Shirley was really the famous Shirley Shipley, and soon kids were lining up to meet her and see her amazing memorabilia.
After some time, the local TV network heard about the gist and came visiting, after which they interviewed Shirley. "What would you say is the most precious thing you have in this house?" the interviewer asked her.
In response, the woman called June over, placed her arm around her, and said, "This is June, and she is the answer to that question because she taught me to value love and friendship once more!"
Thanks to June spreading the word, everyone got to know that Shirley was really the famous Shirley Shipley | Source: Pexels
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