A novel by Karen Lockhart
Copyright© 2016 Karen Lockhart
As Wendy took a breath, or actually a sob, I looked at Ellen and nodded.
“Tell me Wendy or Francis, when was the last time you ate a meal? Not something from a barrel, a sit-down meal?” Ellen asked.
She thought a moment, “At a church in Boston, I don't know when, there was still snow on the ground. It was turkey 'n carrots 'n mashed potatoes.”
“Okay, you are coming home with us; we're going to make you a sit-down meal, but first, you shower. I have some old clothes that will fit you. The ones you're wearing get burnt!”
Ellen nodded and said, “Take those clothes off now, before you get into my car. I've a Tyvek jumpsuit you can put on. Go into the loo, we won't watch.”
In a minute, Wendy came out, holding her old clothes, “What do I do with these?”
I held a plastic trash bag open, “Put them in here, but first take out of your pockets anything you want to keep.”
She went through her pockets and came out with an old Swiss Army knife, and a small gold cross. She held the cross and said, “I knew if I prayed hard enough, I would get help.”
That immediately brought tears to Ellen's and my eyes.
Ellen said, “I don't know if we are the answer to your prayers, but we'll try. Come on, lets lock up and go home.”
I tied a knot in the plastic bag, and tossed it into the dumpster near the gate. Wendy got in the back seat of Ellen's Explorer, while I got in the passenger's side. All the way home Wendy looked out the windows and jabbering a mile a minute about what she saw. She was amazed seeing the surf hit the seawall and shoot 20 feet into the air. She kept saying, “Oh wow, look at that!”
In less than 20 minutes we arrived at our condominium. Wendy hopped out of the SUV, and asked in an awed voice, “Do you live here? Look at this place!”
I placed my hand on her back and urged her up the steps, and into the living room. The poor kid was still looking around open-mouthed at the condo.
“First things first,” Ellen said, “Shower, then clothes, then dinner. Will you need help with your shower? Don't be shy, we're all girls here, right?”
“I might need help washing my hair, I guess it's all snarled up.”
I smiled, “Let me wash it for you before you take that shower. I'll have you lean over the bathtub, and with the shower wand we'll get that mane of yours washed and untangled.”
And that's what we did. Then she took off the Tyvek suit and hopped into the bathtub and ran the shower. I went to my room to find jeans and a sweatshirt for her, and of course ladies underwear, panties, and a bra if she wanted it.
Ellen kept checking on her, making sure she scrubbed all the dirt and grime that had accumulated in who knows how long.
Finally Wendy emerged from the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her like a girl, high on her chest, with another one wrapped around her hair. Ellen told her to sit down while she dried and brushed Wendy's blond hair. When dry, Ellen put it in a high pony tail, using a couple of scrunchies. Now it was my turn.
“Follow me kiddo, lets put some clothes on you,” I said as I led her to my bedroom. “I think these will fit, they're too small for me now.” I didn't mention why they didn't fit me anymore.
“Strip!” I commanded, “I've seen a boy's body before.” As I handed her a plain pair of cotton panties, I saw her eyes light up. When I offered the bra to her, she started to cry. “Really? Girls' stuff?”
“Of course girls' clothes, what do I wear? And you are a girl aren't you?”
She expertly hooked the bra behind her back like she'd been doing it all her life, then sat on the bed and wiggled into the jeans. I reached into my bottom drawer and handed her a pair of silicone size A breasts to fit into the bra cups. Wendy started to cry again.
This was the weepiest kid I'd ever met. “Well, you need something to fill out the bra, don't you? Now pull this sweatshirt on, careful with your hair.”
I stepped back and looked at a delightful teen-aged girl sitting on my bed.
“How would you like a little make-up to finish you off?” I asked.
Guess what? She started to cry again.
“Hey, stop the water works, if you cry with make-up on, it'll be ruined. Now, a little blush, some mascara, and pale pink lipstick will finish you off. You have to look in the mirror, you are definitely Wendy Heart, not Francis. Follow me, Ellen has to see this!”
She followed close behind me as we returned to the living room. “TA DA” I said, stepping aside. I think you could hear Ellen's jaw hit the floor.
“Oh my gosh, where did you find this girl Ginny? This isn't who we brought home is it? Where's Francis, did you leave him hiding in the shower?”
I quickly looked at Wendy, “Don't you dare cry and ruin my work young lady. Next time you do it yourself. What do you think, Ellen, we have a cute blond teenage girl or not?”
“Honey, look at you, you are going be a heart- breaker.”
When she said that, Wendy and I started to laugh. Ellen looked at us funny. “That's her last name silly, Heart!” I said, “You two sit on the couch and talk, while I start dinner. How does roast chicken with mashed potatoes and beets sound to everyone?”
In an hour and two glasses of white wine later, I called everyone to sit for dinner. Wendy surprised us by saying Grace before we ate. Ellen carved the chicken, to feel like she did something, while I put a big spoonful of potatoes on Wendy's dish. Before she could say 'no thank you' I placed five beets next to the potato.
Good thing I got milk yesterday, I had enough for a large glass for her.
Soon all you could hear was silverware on dishes and in the background the 6 o'clock news.
Although Wendy wanted seconds, Ellen felt it was better not to let her eat too much, in case it made her sick.
After eating and cleaning up, putting leftovers in the fridge and the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, we sat in the living room to talk. Ellen was in the wing chair, while Wendy and I were seated on the couch.
“Tell me Wendy, how old are you?” I asked.
“I”ll be seventeen next January, Ginny.”
“That makes you sixteen.” I thought a moment, “This means you are not required to attend school. Before you get excited, you haven't been to school for two years; there is no way you could be a high school senior, your last grade was as a freshman, correct?”
“Yes Aunt Ginny.”
“You little scamp, what's this Aunt Ginny stuff?”
Wendy tossed her pony tail over her shoulder, “I can't call you and Ellen by your names, so if you and Ellen are cousins, then I'll call both of you Auntie, less explaining to do.”
Ellen looked at me and laughed, “I think our niece is sharper than we are. We never gave that a thought.”
“Ginny, do you have enough clothes to get us by, or do we go shopping tomorrow?”
I gave Ellen a big wink behind Wendy's back, “No worries, I have a half closet of clothes from before I gained weight. This includes skirts and dresses. She and I wear the same size shoes, but no six inch heels for her, at least not yet.”
Hearing the words 'six inch heels', Wendy perked up. “When can I try them Aunt Ginny?”
“Maybe in 5 years, if you behave.”
“The next thing is sleeping arrangements,” said Ellen. “We only have two bedrooms, but you're sitting on a full sized sofa-bed, or if you prefer, this chair also converts into a bed. The chair is easier, and I don't think you will complain about the mattress size.
“It's 10 o'clock, Aunt Ginny and I set our alarms for 5am to be at work early and you are coming with us. Go into the bathroom, wash up and change into a sleep shirt, I know Ginny will find one for you. While you're doing that, I'll get some blankets and pillows, sheets are on the mattress already.”
As soon as Wendy left I looked at Ellen, “Well that went pretty well, now how will we entertain her tomorrow at work?”
“No problem,” Ellen said, “I'll bring my spare laptop with us, she can entertain herself on that. Maybe I'll show her how to find that Big Closet site, she can read stories about kids like her.”
“For now, we'll keep my secret safe,” I said. “Can you tip off Steve? Otherwise, that will be the first thing he'll say.”
Wendy came back wearing a huge Patriot's shirt with pink fluffy slippers on her feet. We kissed goodnight, and turned off the room's lights. “See you in the morning,” Ellen said.
About 3am we heard an ungodly scream. Ellen and I ran for the living room fearing the worst. Wendy was sitting up screaming her head off.
“Don't hit me! Please, leave me alone!”
I grabbed her in a huge hug, rocking her back and forth. “Maybe tonight you should sleep with me. How does that sound honey?”
So for the rest of the night I had the company of a squirming, snoring teenager. Thank God, no more bad dreams.
To be continued
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