CITY OF GLASS Ch. 19Written by Jim & Becky Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The girl looked from Aunt Alice to me and back again. Her stoicism was belied by the panic in her eyes.
“Uh, hello,” I said stupidly. “Uh…you were in my basement.” Duh. She had probably gotten in thru the broken window I had neglected to repair. “Uh. Have a seat?” I nudged a chair in her direction. That was when she bolted. I scrambled down those rickety steps after her with Aunt Alice at my heels. The girl bounded like a whitetail over the boxes of junk, making her way to that locked door. She tried to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. She pounded on it with her fists, kicked it in frustration. She slid down its surface into a pile on the floor and began to wail like a child. Which is what she is, really. Maybe sixteen.
“Uh, hey, girl …” I started, but she lashed at me with her arm. Then she covered her head like she thought I might hit her. Aunt Alice approached the child uttering all kinds of nonsense and clucking like a mother hen. It worked. The girl quietened and allowed herself to be led upstairs.
The three of us sat on kitchen chairs, and I took a long look at our guest’s attire.
She wore a chambray chemise bedecked with metallic disks over a woolen skirt trimmed with ribbons. Leggins of the same woolen fabric covered her from knee to ankle, and moccasins completed the outfit. The clothing seemed entirely too warm for the weather, and, in fact, trickles of perspiration at her temples added to the moisture on her tear-dampened cheeks. Aunt Alice wiped her grubby face as if she were a baby.
“What did you mean when you said you were afraid of this?” I asked.
“Oh, honey, you know this building.”
“That is not an answer.”
“Honey, I watch.”
“Like the one in the basement?” I asked, looking at the Indian girl.
“Somebody has to.”
I don’t know how closely our young friend was following the conversation, but she joined in … in no language I could identify. The one word I kept hearing over and over was odawa.
“Is that French?”
“Greek to me, honey.”
“She said she’s Ottawa,” came a voice from behind us. “And she wants to know if you’re in cahoots with The-One-Who-Does-Not-Sleep.”
It was Ms. Right.
To be continued …