Albertsine Kelly, watched the turbulent thunderstorm from her living room window with growing distress. Freezing rain poured heavily from the sky in a continuous downpour, and violent thunder and lightning demanded the city's undivided attention. She continued watching the endless raindrops rapping loudly against the windowpanes until she decided she should get up and check on her grandchildren. She groaned softly as she rose slowly from the couch to call her daughter. Patrice answered the phone on the second ring.
"Mom, I'm surprised that you're calling me on a night like this! Don't you know that it is thundering and lightening outside?" Patrice whispered as if God would hear her and zap her through the phone.
"I know, Patrice." She said. "This storm would soak a person through to the bone. I was concerned about the kids being out on a night like this." Lightening cracked louder and made Albertsine flinch.
"Well, everyone is home. Do you want someone to come over and stay with you?" Patrice had a habit of treating her like a child.
"Of course not. I was simply making sure everyone was in the house."
"Oh, well, we're fine." She responded. "I knew I didn't feel comfortable with you living in that big house all alone, now that Daddy..." Her voice drifted off.
Lightening struck loudly outside the Kelly house and both women quickly said goodbye and hung up.
Albertsine was not comforted after talking to Patrice. In fact, she felt a bit more concerned than before. As she climbed the stairs toward her bedroom, she wondered why she was so concerned about a simple thunderstorm. After six-five years, she should be used to them. She laid down and took a nap until she was interrupted by a loud and persistent noise. A little disoriented, she just assumed it was just thunder, until she opened her bedroom door and stood in the hallway, and realized that someone was banging on her front door. She went downstairs and looked in the peep hole. A young man stood there shivering from the rain. She didn't recognize him immediately, for his collar was flipped up against his face, and when she opened the door, she realized that it was her friend, Frank Tyler who drove the bus line downtown. Albertsine quickly ushered him into the living room.
"Good heavens, Frank! What are you doing out on a night like this?" Her eyes grew bigger as water dripped from his clothes.
"Mrs. Kelly. I don't mean to disturb you, especially on a night like this, but I really need your help." He said shivering.
"Sure, Frank. What's the matter?" Her heart went out to him. He was shaking so hard. "Let me get a towel for you." She said.
"No thanks." He nodded. "I'm just getting off my shift and I was about to return the bus when I noticed that I still had three passengers on board...a mother and her two kids. They refused to get off the bus, and I just don't know what to do."
"In weather like this, who would blame them?" She shook her head sympathetically.
"No. I mean that I don't think they have anywhere else to go. I didn't want to put them off my bus in weather like this. Mrs. Kelly, you were the only person I could think of. You have always been there to help people out, and I did not know what else to do." She noticed that his eyes were getting watery.
"I'll be glad to take them in, Frank. Where are they?" She looked around outside. She had a feeling that something like this was going to happen tonight.
"There still on the bus, up the street. Mrs. Kelly, you are the greatest! I'll be right back." He closed the door behind him and dashed up the street. When she saw them coming up the front steps a few minutes later, her heart felt like it sank in her chest. Albertsine didn't know what to expect, but she wasn't ready to see a mother so young, not even day over twenty-one. She had a pair of the prettiest grey eyes Albertsine had ever seen. The youngest baby looked to be about two years old and the oldest child couldn't be more than four. They were all shivering from the cold rain as they entered the house. Frank shut the door behind him and followed them into the living room. Albertsine greeted them all with a hug, despite the fact that their clothes were soaking wet.
"Hello, my name is Albertsine Kelly. I have plenty of room for you to stay and get comfortable. I also have some dry clothes that you can wear after you get out of those wet things." She said.
"Thank you so much, Mrs. Kelly. My name is Andrea Little. And this is Jonathan and Samantha. We are more than grateful." Her grey eyes were melancholy but sincere.
"No problem at all. I'd welcome your company. Now let's get you out of those wet clothes, before everyone catches a cold." She motioned for them to go upstairs while she looked back at Frank who was still standing in the living room.
"You have a seat." She whispered, pointing to the couch.
Mrs. Kelly went up to the guest room and looked in the dresser her grandchildren used.
"It's a good thing I decided to keep these clothes over here. My grandchildren stay over every blue moon, and I have these extra clothes here just in case. Well God sure works in mysterious ways, now doesn't he?" She shook her head in amazement.
"Yes, he sure does." Andrea said pulling Jonathan's wet clothes off. Samantha, the oldest, pulled off her clothes and tossed them on the floor.
"Now, make yourself comfortable. I have some extra towels in the bathroom, so you can take a bath or shower while I put something on the stove."
"Oh, Mrs. Kelly you don't have to fix us anything. We just wanted to get out of the rain." Andrea protested.
"Honey, when you stood in the living room, I heard your stomach growling, and I know these kids must be ready for a meal by now too. Get yourselves comfortable, and I'll let you know when it's time to eat." She said, walking downstairs.
"Well, I guess she told me, hunh?" Andrea smiled at Jonathan and Samantha and finished undressing them for a bath.
Mrs. Kelly came downstairs and motioned for Frank to accompany her in the kitchen. He followed behind her leaving wet footprints on the carpet.
"Do you know why she stayed on the bus?" She asked him.
"I don't know." He shrugged. "She wouldn't say anything to me. I think she was afraid that I would do something to harm her. That's why I brought her over here to you."
"Well, She seems really vulnerable right now, and what she needs is a friend." She said, walking over to the refrigerator. Albertsine Kelly moved food from the refrigerator to the stove in record time, and before their conversation was over, the food was hot and she was preparing the table. Frank stated that he was due back to work so, Mrs. Kelly piled a healthy portion of food on a large paper plate, and covered it with aluminum foil. Andrea entered the kitchen, with her small entourage following her. They didn't realize how hungry they were until the delicious aroma of smothered chicken, greens and cornbread filled the kitchen. Everyone's stomach was growling this time.
"How did you manage to fix all this so quickly?" She asked as her eyes grew bigger. There was so much food, Andrea though she would pass out from hunger.
"This was all just sitting in the fridge. All I had to do was heat it up." She said nonchalantly.
"Well, its time for me to get back to work. Andrea, you and your kids are in good hands." He smiled.
"I am so thankful your kindness. The both of you have been so kind, and you don't even know us. This is amazing." Andrea said looking at both of them. Her grey eyes were once again sad. Samantha was ignoring her mother and tried reaching around her for some chicken on the table. Jonathan, however, was pulling on Andrea's pants so she could pick him up. Frank realized that they all must be tired and hungry by now.
"You all go and eat. Thanks for the plate, Mrs. Kelly." Frank said as he left out the kitchen and headed toward the front door. As he closed the door behind him, Mrs. Kelly sat everyone down to eat.
"I bet you're wondering why I am on the street with my kids." Andrea said. There was a long pause before she continued. "It is a long sad story, but I'll tell you now, if you want to know." She stared into space looking away from Mrs. Kelly.
"Honey, when you're ready to talk, I'm ready to listen. Now pass those greens over here. I don't know about you three, but I'm hungry." Mrs. Kelly said. Andrea smiled to herself and passed them to her.
Two months later, Andrea and her children were still staying with Mrs. Kelly. Andrea opened up eventually and told her about the problems she experienced which left her and her children homeless. Mrs. Kelly decided that they could stay at her house until Andrea got herself established. Mrs. Kelly looked after the kids while Andrea worked as a secretary at a temporary agency. Mrs. Kelly even talked Andrea into continuing her college education in the fall. Mrs. Kelly, Andrea and the kids got along wonderfully. Everything was starting to fall together, like an easy jigsaw puzzle.
Mrs. Kelly's daughter, Patrice was heading back home from the mall and decided to pay her mother a surprise visit. She was so busy into establishing her own consulting business, that she forgot to keep in touch with her mother in the last few months, but she was certain that her mom would understand.
Patrice glided her forest green Mercedes into her mother's driveway and shut off the engine. She got out of the car, strolled gracefully up the walkway and knocked on the front door with her perfectly manicured hand.
Patrice was surprised to see a young woman she's never met opening her mother's door. She was beautiful with a pair of exquisite grey eyes. Patrice was already jealous of her. Patrice was a beautiful woman, herself, but she had a bad attitude. Andrea was so friendly toward Patrice, which made it even worse. Andrea even displayed a perfect smile as she lead Patrice into the living room, however, Patrice did not return a smile of her own, and in fact, hardly even acknowledged Andrea's presence, except to tell her who she was. Albertsine was upstairs in the guest room with the kids when Andrea came looking for her. Albertsine looked up at Andrea standing in the doorway and immediately knew something was wrong, for those eyes hid nothing.
"Your daughter is downstairs." She leaned against the doorway. "I don't think that she appreciates the fact that I answered the door. Does she know that I'm staying here?"
"My aloof daughter doesn't pay my rent and doesn't need to know all of my business either." Albertsine said trying a pair of sneakers on Samantha's feet. Samantha rolled back on the bed giggling. Jonathan just stared at both of them curiously.
"Finish her shoes for me, I'll be back." She said. Andrea walked over to Samantha as Mrs. Kelly went downstairs to see Patrice.
Patrice was still standing in the living room when Mrs. Kelly came downstairs. She was so surprised to see Patrice smoking, for she never smoked in her presence before.
"So, when did you start smoking?" She asked, frowning at the smoke.
"The day after my honeymoon." She said cynically. She kept pacing the floor nervously, as though she had something heavy on her mind.
"Who was that girl?" She asked bluntly.
"That is Andrea. She's staying here for a while. Hold on and I'll introduce you." She headed towards the stairs.
"Don't bother." Patrice scowled.
"What is your problem!" She asked. Patrice was really getting on her nerves lately.
"I just don't like strays coming into this house like its some homeless shelter."
"Well, dear. This house is my house. I wish you could come down from your own world for a moment to grasp what is going on in your own neighborhood."
"Mom, I didn't come over here for a lecture. I just came for a visit."
"Well, honey, you seem to be a little out of touch. I paid for your education for you to be an investment back into the community, not someone looking down on your own people."
"This is just like the last time, Mom. Do you have to let them come into your house?" Her talk must have went in one ear and out the
Mrs. Kelly stood there angrily watching her with her hands on her small waist. She took a deep breath before she spoke again.
"I want you to meet with some of the people I've come in contact with over the years. I'm having a get together here next week. So, before you start being so judgmental about people you don't even know, take the time to find out where they're coming from. And don't ever smoke in my house again." She said. Patrice just stood there contemplating.
"If that makes you happy, I'll be here." She decided. Patrice was ready to leave. She needed a drink. If her mother knew that she drank liquor regularly, it would really throw her for a loop.
"Great. I'll call you with the details." She said. A moment later, Patrice was pulling out of the driveway. Mrs. Kelly return upstairs to the guest room.
"How did it go?" Andrea asked.
"Ok, I guess. I told her about Friday. I just hope she'll show up."
On Friday, the house was filled with people. Andrea and the kids were having a ball. Everything was in perfect, however, Patrice did not show up yet, and Mrs. Kelly was a getting little worried. It was not until she saw Patrice walking in did she believe that she was ever going to show. Patrice destroyed her credibility long ago. But now, it seemed as though she was trying to make up for it.
Mrs. Kelly introduced Patrice to everyone. Patrice was surprised to see so many influential people there along with various other people she didn't recognize. It was an experience that set her back emotionally, to the point where she was speechless. Mrs. Kelly stood beside her and noticed Patrice’s reaction.
"See, honey, you can see how high people can soar in life, if they'd only get a chance."