The newspaper ad read, “Help Wanted”. If they needed help, I was their girl. When I turned onto Waters Street I saw the sign, “Livingstone Veterinarian Clinic”. It was a block and a half from where I lived at the boarding house.
Upon entering I was met with the smells of disinfectants and animals. A short gray-haired lady behind a counter full of home-made doggie treats and flea repellents greeted me. “Good morning. Can I help you?”
“The newspaper says you need help and I need a job. I thought maybe we could help each other.”
“Well, have you ever worked with animals?”
“No mam, but I get along fine with ‘em. I’m a fast learner and a hard worker.”
“How old are you?”
“Eighteen as of last Monday.”
“Do you drive?”
“Well. . . I can walk, it’s down Commerce Street. That won’t be a problem will it?” I wiped sweat from my forehead.
Ms. Livingstone must have noticed how uneasy I was because she changed the subject. “I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Vonnie Livingstone. I’m the vet.”
“I’m Karigan Malone. So, do you think we can do business?”
The pleasant looking lady chuckled.“Now, I usually have an application to complete before getting down to business as you put it. But, I like your style. Yes, we can do business. All I need is your social security number, an address and phone number.”
My social security number was written and I had started on the address when she said, phone number. Oh boy, another bump in the road. “I don’t have a phone, but maybe I can use the boarding house number as my contact.”
“You must live at Hollister’s. Don’t worry, I know Bebe Hollister. We can work this out. Come in the back and I’ll show you what you’ll be doing every morning.”
I was so relieved to have a job I didn’t care what I’d be doing. Ms. Livingstone talked as we walked through the kennel. She pointed to this and that as she explained how to feed the animals. I shook my head a lot, but I didn’t say much.
My mind was simultaneously running down two tracks. I was trying to absorb what my boss was saying while reliving the past week. Having been a ward of the state for 18 years, I wasn’t prepared for the changes my birthday brought. Sudden endings aren’t pleasant. It’s like one minute you’re breathing and the next you’re dead. In the system when your turn 18, they give you a hundred dollars and transportation to somewhere. I chose Conway Corners.
Harpersville Home for Girls had been my home since I was ten years old. Before Harpersville I lived in three foster homes. My birth family abandoned me when I was three months old due to financial problems as my foster mother explained. Whatever their reason was didn’t matter. It left me feeling like garbage.
Day one at the clinic ended at six o’clock. The boss gave me keys and orders for day two. My new life was underway. I had an address, a job and a new friend. No one in Conway Corners knew my history. My past had expired like my library card. . .I hoped.
Vonnie and I became fast friends. Until one day when my emotions took over. Through tears I blurted out everything to Vonnie. She consoled me, but I felt her distance herself from me. Had I already worn out my welcome?
A knock on my door surprised me.“Vonnie. . .are you going to fire me?”
“No, I’m not firing you. I have to tell you something. Then you may not want to work for me.”
I motioned her to sit beside me on the bed. She fiddled with her thumbs. I grew more anxious. “Karigan I know your mother. The day you told me about your past, I realized why I was instantly attracted to you. You are so much like her.”
“Who is she? I have a lot to say to her.” Distain dripped from every word.
“Your mother is my daughter. There’s not enough time to tell everything tonight. But, I want to start by saying it isn’t like you’ve imagined. She was only a child when it happened.”
“Where is she? Tell me that much.”
“I’ll take you there tomorrow, but it won’t settle anything. Karigan, it’s time to let go of the past. You’ve found your family and you’re always welcome here.”
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