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Although Maria started work at the cafe with the best of intentions, it really wasn’t going very well. The manager and staff were kind to her and Maria was very fond of them but she was having trouble concentrating. She found it difficult to remember the relentless series of left-brained tasks. One of the problems was Maria’s ability to see people’s souls. She would get distracted by the many things she saw around the customers and would find it hard to concentrate on the practical tasks at hand. The customers seemed to sense her interest in them. Maybe because she couldn’t help staring at some of them. They, frequently, took the opportunity to tell her about their problems. However, this was a cafe not a healing room. The queue of tasks would get longer. The manager was unusually patient with Maria but the problem remained.

Back in Waldmeer Corner Store and Cafe, Maria’s mother had a far more grounding effect on her than either of them had realised at the time. If Maria was getting too dreamy, her mother would pull her back to practical issues and Maria always obliged. Being mother and daughter, much was communicated nonverbally. Lucy, also, knew when to leave Maria alone. If Maria was absorbed in a conversation with a customer, Lucy knew it would be because that person needed her daughter and so she would make things work around that. She gave her a lot of leeway because she trusted her daughter’s intentions. It was a good balance and it worked. The town of Waldmeer, itself, added to it working because the town’s spiritual energy protected Maria, whereas the energy of the city mostly seemed to do the opposite.

Two little blonde sisters of four and five, often, came into the cafe with their parents. No one liked them which is an uncustomary response to children. They were loud, obnoxious, and totally spoilt. They were somewhat better when they were with their father but when their mother was present, they were ugly. It wasn’t that their mother didn’t care about them. She talked to them constantly, read to them, played with them, bought them treats and whatever else they wanted. She was an intelligent and polite woman and so she tried to correct their lack of manners but her pitiful pleas fell on deaf ears. Maria felt sorry for them all. She could see it was the mother’s guilt that was causing the problem. Guilt about working and about her own parenting skills.

When the mother wasn’t looking, Maria would sometimes look at the girls fiercely so that they knew to behave better. Both the girls hated it but as Maria, also, smiled at them whenever she had the chance, they didn’t avoid her.

“I don’t know what to do,” said the mother to Maria one afternoon as Maria brought her coffee. “The girls are not at school yet and I have so much work to do and every nanny leaves.” The mother was very good at her work and felt much more affirmed in that environment than in her failing child-raising one. The little sisters, Marilyn and Bianca, were squabbling over their cakes, getting louder by the second. Suddenly, the younger one stopped fighting as if her mother’s conversation had just registered in her mind.

“I know, Mummy. Maria can look after us,” said Bianca. Everyone was surprised but no one said no. They were all silent and stared at Maria. Even the cafe manager, who happened to hear the conversation, had stopped moving. Everyone was waiting.

Maria turned to the manager, “Would it be alright?”

The manager tried not to look too thrilled and said, “Well, we will miss you but if they need you then we will manage.” She turned towards the kitchen and breathed out with a relieved smile.

Maria turned to the children who were still strangely silent. “Alright, but we are all going to behave. Everyone is going to be good,” she said firmly. Maria needed a work purpose other than making money. She could see that the family truly needed her. That made all the difference. The mother couldn’t have looked happier and the family walked out of the cafe as if they were walking out of a fog.

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