Sweet Little Thing(2)

By: Abbi Glines

She hugged it, tucking the teddy bear under her chin.

“I love you, Beulah,” she said against the ears of the bear that was pressed to her mouth.

“I love you, Heidi,” I told her.

Her smile was so big that I smiled too. It was a smile that only Heidi could give you. The one where no matter what was wrong with the world, you knew it was okay. I didn’t have a memory that Heidi wasn’t in. She was my twin. My sister. My other half. But she was different. She couldn’t live life the way I did. She had to do it differently. All because she was a special angel God had sent to earth. I knew that was true. And I knew I’d always do anything to take care of her.

10 years later . . .

TODAY SHOULD BE SPECIAL, BUT it was like any other day. Just another day that I existed, like all the others for the past six months. Keeping my head down and doing all that was asked of me was the one way I could make sure everything important to me was safe. Protected.

I woke up each day with a mission and hope that eventually my life would get better. That my current situation wasn’t forever.

“Beulah, for God’s sake, could you hurry with my coffee and get started on Jasper’s room before he gets home? I haven’t seen him in over eight months. His room needs to be perfect. Not that he’ll stay long,” Portia Van Allan called from the dining room.

Portia didn’t eat food. At least, she didn’t eat often. She drank coffee and she drank wine. Because of this, I wasn’t expected to cook for her. The list of duties she had me do daily were enough to keep me busy from the time the sun came up to well after it went down.

“Yes ma’am,” I replied as I finished making the French press coffee she preferred. It took time to brew the coffee unlike a regular coffee maker. The glass contraption also only made a cup with each press. It was one of the many things I hadn’t ever heard of until I was forced to take the position as a maid in her home. When my mother gave me Portia’s name and address on a piece of paper only a day before she passed away, I never asked who Portia was. I was so scared and in denial because of my mother’s illness that it wasn’t important at the time.

The day after my mother was buried, the landlord came to tell us we owed two months’ rent on the trailer we lived in, and although he was very sorry for our loss, we had to pay or move out. I’d taken Heidi with me to Portia Van Allen’s address that day, not knowing what to expect. Her home, where I now lived and worked, was not even close to what I had ever expected.

“I know he won’t stay at the house long, but while he’s here you’ll make him breakfast. I’ll ask him to leave you a list of what he eats. I can’t remember because I never cooked for him. We had someone do that. His father liked French toast, I do remember that.” Portia’s words trailed off.

She looked up as I handed her cup of coffee to her, inspecting the coffee with great scrutiny.

“This seems darker than usual.” She frowned although there were no frown lines on her face. I was sure Botox was the reason why. I wasn’t sure how old she was, but she had a son in college.

“I made it the same way I make it every morning.” Arguing with Portia was never a wise idea but sometimes I couldn’t help myself. Like at this moment.

She started to open her mouth when noise from the front door stopped her. Loud voices and laughter rang out down the hall followed by the sound of clattering footsteps.

Confused, I glanced back at Portia.

She was sitting with her back straight, listening. “He’s already here! Shit!”

I assumed “he” was her son since no one ever walked into this house without a key. They couldn’t even get past the privacy gate without a code.

She jumped up and looked frantic. “He has company. I need to get dressed.” She hurried for the back stairs that lead to the master bedroom. “Feed them. Take care of them,” were her last words before she disappeared around the corner. Her black French-press coffee was forgotten on the table.

I wasn’t ready to face an unknown Van Allen. The one I knew wasn’t exactly a pleasant person. I had hoped I wouldn’t have to see her son that much while he was home. Only when I served his breakfast maybe. But this . . . this was not what I had planned on.

I walked down the small hallway that separated the kitchen from the dining room and ducked into the kitchen to hide until her son and whoever was with him went upstairs. Maybe he would look for Portia. God knew he wouldn’t look in the kitchen.

As I entered the kitchen from the dining room entrance, the opposite entrance swung open.