Sweet Little Thing(10)

By: Abbi Glines

Before I reached Heidi’s door it swung open, and out bounced Heidi.

“Is Beulah—” she started to ask loudly to anyone that heard her in the hallway then paused when she saw me. Her face lit up and the smile I loved spread brightly. “Beulah!” she cried gleefully, and then ran to me.

I sat the bag that held the cupcakes on the ground beside me just in time to catch her as she threw her arms around me. In all my life, no one had ever been as excited to see me as Heidi. She was always excited to see me.

“Hey, beautiful! I missed you yesterday,” I told her hugging her back just as tightly.

“I missed you,” she said still clinging to me. “We played ball and I had a cookie. Chocolate chip.”

“Your favorite kind! That’s wonderful. Did May have one too?” I asked.

“Yes, she ate three but don’t tell. She wasn’t s’posed to.” Heidi was whispering loudly.

I knew the nurses wouldn’t care about the three cookies, but I went along with her serious expression. “Okay. I won’t say a word. Our secret.”

She nodded. “Locked it up an throw away the key,” she said making the motion like she was locking up her lips.

“Done,” I assured her. “I have a treat. Where’s May? I brought her a treat too.”

At the word treat, Heidi beamed again. All seriousness gone. “A treat! What kind?”

“The best kind.”

“Oh boy,” she said clapping. Then called toward the nurse’s station. “Beulah brought me a treat!”

They all smiled and nodded.

She grabbed my hand and tugged, leading me toward the activity room. “May is making paper dolls. I was waiting on you,” Heidi explained plainly as we walked into the large room full of round tables filled with crafts.

The staff would have crafts set up for another hour, then it would change to board games for two hours, then coloring sheets, and then they would have instruments to play at the end of the day. Soothing classical music filled the room now, and residents talked and worked on their projects. May was sitting at a round red table studying the paper doll in her hands with intensity.

“I see her,” Heidi exclaimed like that was the best news of the day and hurried to May calling her name.

May looked up and saw me. Her smile was as bright as my sister’s. Heidi got to her and whispered in her ear. She knew better than to announce to the room that I had treats for them. Everyone would want one too. I wished I could afford to bring them all treats. One day, I’d get my degree and I’d have a career, and Heidi would move back in with me. We’d continue to visit and bring everyone treats.

May dropped her paper doll and they both came running back in my direction. “I told her,” Heidi said. “Let’s go see the ducks.”

I let them lead the way and May gave me a shy smile and hug. She was quieter than Heidi. I knew her life had been more different than my sister’s. She wasn’t comfortable receiving love the way Heidi was. She was nervous. I tried to show her with every visit she could trust me. She was learning that I would accept her hug and give her one back.

The sun was beautiful and warm today. We found a nice shady spot, the girls got comfortable and then I handed them each a cupcake before taking mine and joining them. They both giggled with delight at the sight of the cupcakes.

I’d used ingredients from Portia’s pantry to make them. Ms. Charlotte had left a lot of baking supplies behind. Portia never requested baked goods, so I used them to make things to bring to Heidi, May and the nurses. I hoped by the time the supplies ran out, I would have enough money to afford to restock.

They loved the cookies, and occasional cupcakes. One week, I’d made Rice Krispy treats. Then once I’d made brownies, but we were out of chocolate now. So I was making sugar cookies with sprinkles most of the time.

“This is the best cupcake I evah had,” May told me licking her lips.

“Beulah is the best cooker,” Heidi bragged. “Momma taught her and me to cook a lot. I can cook too.”

May’s eyes went wide with amazement even though Heidi had told her this story many times. And it was true. Momma had always let us help her with dinner. When there was extra money she’d make us sweets. I’d learned more from her than just baking and cooking skills. I’d learned how to love. Mom was the best teacher.

“I THOUGHT WHEN YOU SAID you were ready to take over your position at the corporation that you’d go to Boston, Chicago, or even New York for the summer. I didn’t expect you to come here and bring all these people. You can’t expect them to take you seriously at Van Allan Industries if you’re having topless parties every day. They aren’t just going to respect you because your father named you CEO at his death.”