A novel by Karen Lockhart
Copyright© 2016 Karen Lockhart
I woke up with new bruises on my back and a small body snuggled against me. I decided the loo was calling me, so in I went. While there, I took a quick shower, not wanting to hold Ellen up. I figured Wendy was clean enough after the scrubbing the previous night.
I returned to see a gawky blonde trying to brush her hair while sitting on half of it.
“Wendy, if you bend over from the waist and brush, you'll find it easier to do, also makes your bum look round.”
Her face turned bright red, “My bum? You were looking?”
“No silly, I wanted to get a reaction from you and it worked. Now sit on the bed while I make Max Factor jealous as I paint my face.”
“Who's this Factor guy, does he have a beauty shop?”
I forgot how old she was, “Max Factor was a famous Hollywood make-up artist, who came out with a line of cosmetics for women to use at home.”
As this was going on as I dressed in jeans and a tee top with a pull-over pale blue cable knit sweater. I decided Wendy would dress like last night in jeans and a sweatshirt with the Red Sox logo on the back. Since our feet were the same size, a old pair of Rebocks would do.
She and I got to the kitchen before Ellen, so I showed her how to make coffee, while I busied my self with scrambled eggs and bacon.
I saw Ellen's nose first as she followed the aroma of fresh coffee into the breakfast nook.
Ellen stared at Wendy over her coffee, making the kid so nervous she spilled her own coffee on the tabletop. I was busy stirring eggs, so Ellen handed her a roll of paper towels, saying: ”Your mess, you clean.”
“Wendy, you will be with me or Ginny all the time today. No wandering off alone, especially on a construction job, it can be dangerous. I have a spare laptop computer you may use to look up anything or play games. Have you ever played computer games before?”
“Aunt Ellen, my step-father only allowed us to have one computer, and that was in his office. I wasn't allowed to play any games on it.”
“While Ellen is outside with the contractors, I'll show you some places to look up. Do you like reading stories?”
“That's all I did for fun at home.”
“Good. By the way, where was home anyway?”
Wendy slowly smiled, “About 2 years west of here.”
She had me, I'm so transparent. “Well I knew it couldn't be east of here, unless you're part mermaid.”
We finished our breakfast and put the plates into the dishwasher.
“Let's take my car, it hasn't been used for a while,” I said, handing Wendy my old down jacket. “I think it needs the exercise.”
As we arrived, I saw Steve's truck making the turn right behind us. Oh oh.
Ellen hopped out and leaned into Steve's truck. While this was going on, Wendy and I opened the office and turned on the lights. She made a bee-line for the coffee maker and had that going in record time. Ellen followed Steve into the trailer, giving me the high sign that all was well.
In a booming voice, Steve asked who this young lady was, and why are all the females in his life so pretty?
There went the blushing cheeks again, I swear you could heat a small room with her.
I made the introductions, “Steve Brady, this is Wendy Heart. Wendy, Ellen and I work for Steve,and this is his project.” As I said that, I could hear Steve say under his breath, “Work, huh. That's what you call it?”
“Steve, Wendy is visiting us for a few weeks, trying to find herself, you know how some teenage girls can be.”
“Just keep her away from those guys out there, or we'll never get any work done.” With that he slammed the door and walked over to the masonry foreman and started to wave his hands. That meant he was happy!
While we had coffee, Ellen set-up her old laptop on my desk.
She had work to do, but my filing and bills were up to date, so I gave Wendy her first surfing lesson, on a computer of course!
Wendy was very smart, and caught on quickly. I showed her how to look up almost anything on Wikipedia, also the YouTube site for videos and music.
I asked if she would like to read some stories about kids like her. At this, Wendy's eyes lit up.
“Do you mean boys who think like girls?”
“Yes, and more; now some stories on this site sound like what you told me and Ellen yesterday, so for now, lets read something else first. I went to the Big Closet Top Shelf site home page and scrolled down until I found “The Reluctant Girlfriend”. I could see Wendy's interest right away.
“If you like this story, there are more sequels where this one ends.” I don't think she heard me!
After checking with the workers, Ellen and I sat down and talked about our new 'niece'. What to do with her; were her parents actively searching for her? Also, did we want a house guest? Poor Ellen, she was living a quiet solitary life until I showed up with a mobster's money and a pair of four inch heels. Now to do it all over again, sheesh!
What would Pete Smith say? We couldn't spin him a yarn, he would sniff out a lie like a bloodhound after a rabbit's scent. As for clothes, she could wear my out-grown outfits, but those were not for a sixteen year old girl.
Thankfully, the lunch truck came about then, ending our conversation. Wendy was clicking away like there was no tomorrow. Rather than have her come to the truck, Ellen asked what she felt like for lunch.
“I'm still full from breakfast Aunt Ellen, is a Mountain Dew and a yogurt okay?”
Just in case, I picked up an extra tuna on rye for her. We sat around the table in the middle room just gabbing a bit, when Wendy asked about the story she was reading, and were there others. I smiled and told her there were thousands of them. “Finish that one and I'll show you one about a singer on cruise ships.”
Pete was put on the back-burner for now. We needed to get through this day first.
We decided my hand-me-downs were fine for now, but she needed clothes for girls her age. Make-up would come next. We'd take her where Ellen took me and hit a few stores like Frugal Fannies and Marshals later.
Time to lock up and head home for the day. I drove slowly so Wendy could see the sights. All she wanted to watch was the waves coming on the beach.
“I never saw waves before Aunt Ginny, is it always like this?” Another clue about where she came from!
“Only if there is a storm at sea. If we get a really big storm, it will make these look like ripples on a pond.”
After hanging up our jackets, Ellen turned on the TV for the early news. There was one small mention of Vinny and the shooting in Salisbury. No mention of a nationwide search for a blonde sixteen year old boy missing for several years. No news is good news.
We decided to have a large pepperoni pizza for supper and to order a two litre Diet Pepsi. Neither Ellen nor I felt like having beer that night.
After tucking away most of the huge pizza, we went back to the living room to relax. Ellen had a little bet going on where the name Wendy came from. We both love it and it suits her fine, but curiosity wouldn't quit.
Ellen decided to ask our house guest where Wendy came from. “From the Disney movie, right?” asked Ellen.
“No,” Wendy shook her head.
“My turn,” I said, “From the fast food place. Am I right?”
Wendy's face reddened again. This kid either cries or blushes! “Yes, yes, yes, do you want to know why? Because they gave me leftover burgers and didn't toss them into the dumpster first!”
With that, Ellen and I realized what kind of a life this child had before we found her. How she survived for two years on her own was a miracle.
We decided to take her to a doctor for a quick check-up and then a little clothes shopping. I said for Ellen to go to work and I'd drive her to one of those new walk-in clinics in Peabody.
This made Wendy both happy and apprehensive.
“A doctor, he'll know I'm really a boy in girls' clothes.”
“So what?” Ellen and I answered in unison.
'Do you think this will be a first for a doctor?”
We watched a couple of shows on the History channel about these guys chasing Big Foot. It was like a real life Saturday morning cartoon, except you never saw anything hairier then the guys chasing him.
Bed time, hopefully without a teenage companion.
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