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Gabriel sat down on Maria’s bed as he had done many times in the inner city house they were now sharing with Charlie and Mary in Eraldus. “I know you are trying your best but you really need to earn more money,” said Gabriel. “Our first six months lease is up and they have put it up a lot.” As he had originally suggested back in Waldmeer, Maria set up the veranda as a healing space. It wasn’t lacking clients. Most days people knocked on the house door asking for the healing girl. She listened to their problems and helped them with their healing as much as she was able to. “You have lots of clients and they love you,” said Gabriel. “You should be making lots of money by now.” He paused and thought he sounded too materialistic. “I just don’t understand it. That’s all. I never see you buying anything for yourself. Where does your money go?”

Maria had not explained to him that her spirit counterpart, Amira, had told her that she was not to charge any money for healing. She was allowed to have a donation box. Many of the people who came were poorer than Maria or had children and more urgent needs. Maria didn’t want to take their money. Those who had money didn’t necessarily give it. It was generally the ones with no money who insisted on giving the most. Maria felt that what was freely given to her by God must be freely shared with others, although, that was not right for everyone, otherwise, no one would be making any money.

Without mentioning Amira, Maria explained to Gabriel about the donation box. She already knew what the response would be. She added, “Please don’t worry about me. I have enough for our rent and bills and I am fine.” Later that evening, Maria told Charlie what Gabriel had been saying.

“Gabriel said not to tell you,” said Charlie, “but you haven’t been paying your full share of the rent for the past six months. He has been adding to your share to make it equal to ours. He said it would give you a chance to get on your feet financially and, otherwise, the rent would be too much for you. Now, the rent is going up and he thinks you still aren’t able to pay the first amount, let alone the new amount.”

“Oh, I see,” said Maria. It was one thing to make choices about one’s own lifestyle and quite another to be a burden on someone else.

It isn’t just the money, thought Gabriel as he worked on one of his sculpture projects in the workshop. Maria has become quite spacey and ungrounded since she has been living in the city. He didn’t know if it was the effect of all the troubled people she was seeing, or if it was living in the city that didn’t agree with her, or if it was living with him, Charlie, and Mary. He felt that if she put her mind to the practical task of making money, it would bring her back into a more functional space.

The next day, Gabriel happened to overhear the manager at their local cafe say that she was looking for staff. He told her about Maria’s experience in her mother’s cafe in Waldmeer. The manager already knew Maria from coming to the cafe and she liked her from day one. She liked all the residents of their house.

“Of course, we’ll take her. She can have a shift tomorrow as someone is sick,” said the manager.

“Thank you for finding me a proper job,” said Maria to Gabriel rather apologetically. “I will start tomorrow.” The issue seemed resolved and both put the minor upset out of their minds. Little did they realise it was the forerunner of a real fight.

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