After Chelsea came back and gave a comforting peppermint tea, we began chatting about mindless things and topics. I may have been hesitant to come into her apartment at first but I’m glad I did because Chelsea and I have never been closer. While I did trust Chelsea, to a certain extent, spending this time with her deepened our friendship and began to solidify the trust I have in her. Glancing up towards her window, I was met with a bright flash followed by a loud thunder. Chelsea spun around, as she was facing me, to look out the window. She turned towards me frowning.
“Well, I should probably head on now.” Her curly blonde hair bounced as she shook her head at me.
“I don’t think so. You are not walking home in this weather,” A loud thunder followed lightening, “See even God agrees with me! Now stay put. I’ll be right back with some clothes.” If I was being honest, I didn’t want to leave...it’s been so long since I’ve been able to sleep inside and not to mention the weather...the worst nights were the ones when it storms... The fact that it was getting cooler as the fall started to creep in also began to plague my mind. So I didn’t put up a fight and simply nodded as she scurried to find me some clothes. I would’ve just used my regular clothes, but I didn’t want her to question me about why I had clothes in my bag.
She came back handing me a tank top and some sweatpants. I gladly took them from her, grateful for a fresh set of pajamas. She pointed me in the direction of her bathroom so I could take a shower.
“Did you want a razor? I have extras so it wouldn’t be a problem.” I wasn’t sure when my next shower would be so I accepted. “Here you go! Oh, let me get you an extra toothbrush. Here they are. Now, body wash, shampoo, shaving cream, pretty much everything is in the shower. You’re welcome to use anything you need, alright hon?” I couldn’t help but smile at her, a real toothy smile before I took the first legitimate shower I had since I left home. I didn’t waste this chance at having a shower. I made sure to scrub my skin raw from top to bottom and shampoo my hair three times before putting conditioner in my hair while I continued to wash my body before shaving. Once I was done, I rinsed the conditioner out of my hair before stepping out and drying off. I spotted lotion on the bathroom counter so I quickly lathered up, after I brushed my teeth. I sighed happily as I put on the pajamas Chelsea gave me before exiting the bathroom.
“I was just about to check on ya. For a moment there I thought you might’ve drowned in there” She laughed while I blushed lightly.
“Oh, uh I just like long showers I guess...sorry.” She waved off my apology telling not to worry about it.
“You look good, Ally.” I blushed slightly at her compliment. I did feel much better after the shower. ‘Showering’ in sinks could only do so much for you
“I went ahead and made something to eat for us. I hope you like a good ol’ fashioned country meal!” My mouth instantly watered as I saw the food she made. On the square white ceramic plate were two pieces of fried chicken, mash potatoes that looked homemade, corn, and green beans. Looking towards Chelsea who held a slightly anxious smile on her face, I had to hold back the tears in my eyes.
“You didn’t have to make all this for me...”
“It’s no problem hon! It’s so nice cooking for someone else besides myself! Although the chicken is from last night’s dinner, everything else is fresh!” I couldn’t help but give her a hug as everything she’s done for me came crashing down on me. She relentlessly pursued a friendship with me, despite suspecting my abusive past, didn’t think twice about giving me clothes, a meal, and a place to stay for the night. I know she was probably wondering why I hugged her all of a sudden since I was never the one to initiate physical contact with her until tonight I quickly stepped away from her, not wanting to weird her out.
“Well then, shall we eat?” I was grateful she didn’t question why I hugged her. I nodded as we took a seat and began to eat our food. There wasn’t much conversation as we mutually agreed that eating in silence was peaceful.
“You can sleep in here. I had a roommate, but she decided to move in with her boyfriend so it’s just an empty room now...” This sparked my interest. I wonder how much rent cost...if it wasn’t too much maybe I could room with Chelsea. Then again Chelsea and I pretty much worked the same hours at the cafe so maybe I could afford it...then again she does get paid more than me since she’s been working there longer. Would she even want me as a roommate? Chelsea turned towards me. “You wouldn’t happen to be looking for a place to stay would you?” She laughed nervously. “I’ve been looking for a roommate, but everyone who is willing has annoyed me thus far.” She scrunched her nose. ” Anyways, it’s okay if you aren’t-”
“I am actually.” I interrupted her. It was impulsive, yes but how can I not speak up? I’ve been living on the streets for almost 6 months and here is God practically setting up a place for me to live on a platter.
“Really? That’s great! No, perfect actually! You don’t annoy me, actually, you’re pretty awesome and the best friend I’ve never had, oh my goodness we are going to be so cute living together!” She was beaming down at me.
“How much does...this cost?” I was nervous to hear the answer. At this point I had about $2900 saved up but places around here tend to cost at least $600 dollars from what I had came across thus far, and you had to have 4 times the rent saved up if you didn’t have a co-signer which I didn’t. The $600 didn’t include water and utilities...
“In total, this place is $842 a month, which includes all utilities, water, cable, and internet; we’d split that right down the middle. The only other thing you’d have to put in for is groceries and if you wanted we can split that as well, or you can have your own. I quickly thought about it in my head, that would be a minimum of $421 a month... I get paid about $215 every pay-check not including tips. So if I could just put all my tips aside for groceries, then I just might be able to make this work... it helped that I did save up money. Now that I think about it, I saved up a solid amount of money for the amount that I’d be paying here. The more I thought about it the more, everything seemed to be falling into place.
“I ...I think I can make that work...I-”
“You think so? Are you sure? I don’t wanna pressure you to move in with me suga’ although I must admit it’d be a great relief on my pockets if ya catch my drift not to mention it’d be so much fun-”
“Yes, I think so, Chelsea. Calm down, cricket.” Cricket was my nickname for her when I learned that she loved the sound of crickets; apparently, to her, it was calming. She threw her arms around me before taking a step back.
“Well, there’s paperwork that has to be done first, of course. I’ll to have a copy of your identification and your pay-stub that we can get from Mo. It might take a little bit, but I’d say you can probably move in 2-3 weeks from now.” If there was one person I trusted the most right now in my life, it was Chelsea. I wasn’t sure if moving in with Chelsea was 100% safe for me, if she’d turned out to be like she was telling who Meghan was, if she’d get tired of me within two weeks of me being her roommate or the other endless amounts of endings that could come as a result. However, what I did know was that I did want a place to call home, even if it was temporary.
“I understand.” I wasn’t worried about identification. Mo helped me to get a state ID a couple weeks after I started working there. I didn’t know how the whole process worked, especially since I didn’t have my birth certificate. Somehow she managed to get me a state ID with her address on it since they required one. “I’m...I’m really excited, Chelsea” I whispered. She smiled fondly at me; I truly believe that we can be true friends one day...maybe I’ll tell her a little bit about my past, eventually.
After Chelsea calmed down, she gave me a sheet to put on the bed and a blanket before retreating to her room where I heard the sound of crickets playing. I decided to take my time and pray tonight to thank Him for everything he’s been doing for me. Afterward, I went ahead and decided to get some sleep. That night was the best night of sleep I had ever had.
The next morning I woke up to the smell of bacon. I suddenly remembered Chelsea’s generosity last night with feeding and sheltering me last night. I don’t think she’d truly understand the depth of my gratefulness to her, simply because she doesn’t know I’m homeless. I rolled out of bed before following the smell to the kitchen where I was not surprised to find Chelsea cooking bacon along with some eggs and a piece of toast.
“Morning future roommate!” I smiled at her and said a quick thank you as she handed me a plate. Time quickly ticked by as we mindlessly chatted over breakfast before taking showers and getting dressed for work.
“Hey, cricket, where should I put the razor and toothbrush I used?” I asked her as we were about to leave. I was slightly anxious that we were going to be late since I was usually walking to the cafe at this time and had to remind myself she was only seven minutes away from the cafe.
“Just leave it in the bathroom. Once you move in, you can put it in your bathroom but I’ll keep it in mine for now for our sleepovers until then.” I looked at her with my eyebrows raised. What sleepovers? She just smiled at me as she ushered me out of the door. Locking the door, she led the way back to the entrance of the apartment building as we began walking to the cafe.
Upon arriving Mo was surprised to see both of us walking into the cafe together.
“Mornin’ Mo!” Chelsea practically shouted while I said a simple good morning.
“Morning, darlings. It’s odd seeing the both of y’all arriving here together at the same time.”
“We had a sleepover! Oh, Mo it was great! We had great bondin’ time and guess what!” Chelsea slightly rambled as she was setting up tables, “Ally’s gonna be my new roommate! Oh, speakin’ of which, would ya mind getting a copy of her pay stub? We need it so we can get that paperwork goin’. You know how slow they can be- Mo?” I glanced over at Mo, to see her already looking at me with what seems to be tearful eyes. I walked over to Mo, gently taking her hand and led her to the kitchen area.
“Mo? Are you-” I was interrupted when she suddenly wrapped me in a hug. I couldn’t stop myself from flinching but I quickly adjusted to her touch. Her hugs were different than Chelsea’s, it had a motherly touch to it. It felt so foreign yet comforting.
“I know you’ve avoided being with me alone so I wouldn’t try to talk ya into moving in with me. I know you don’t want to be a ‘burden’ to me by living with me, which you won’t by the way. I just get so worried about you being out there alone. I try looking for you to convince you to come home with me and it scares me to think that I can’t find you because something has happened to you. I just-” She took a deep breath, ” I’m so happy that you’ve finally found somewhere to live and with Chelsea...she’s a great person -”
“I know she is, Mo and so are you. Don’t worry about me okay? God’s looking out for me and I’ve made it this far haven’t I? I don’t know if this will last or for how long but...but things are looking up. You’ve done so much for me, more than you can ever know. It was that split second of kindness that changed my life forever and I will never be able to repay you for that. All I can do is say thank you. So, thank you...again” I gave a large grin as she smiled at me.
“Well then, I better get that copy of your pay stub so we can go ahead and get that in. I’ll bring it out in a moment while you help Chelsea finish setting up, alright?” I nodded and turned back to the cafe area to finish opening the cafe. “Oh and Ally? You look good hon.” I blushed again before heading to help Chelsea. We were a bit behind but managed to finish by the time Walter walked through the door. I was relieved when Meghan didn’t come in early; I wasn’t sure what I would say or how I would act. I hoped she calmed down by her shift this afternoon so we could talk about what happened...I also wanted to talk to her about what Chelsea told me last night. My gut was telling me that Chelsea told the truth but I wanted to at least hear what Meghan had to say. There are two sides to every story.
The morning shift went by seamlessly. I think the good moods of Mo, Chelsea and I were rubbing off on the customers and enhanced the atmosphere itself. The cafe was buzzing with life and chatter as regular and new customers came through the doors nonstop from late breakfast until lunch. Meghan was scheduled to come in at 11:00 am but never showed up nor did she call out. Mo was annoyed at this, especially with it being so busy but kept her good mood nonetheless. Chelsea and I made up for it by running around the cafe like, as Mo calls it, a chicken with our heads cut off. As soon as one table was cleared it was filled back up again with another customer. Chelsea and I weren’t complaining though, it kept us busy making time move by faster and brought in more tips.
I felt a tingling heat on the side of my face as I was slightly jogging throughout the cafe trying to meet the new customers that came in and managed to find a seat while delivering two cups of coffee to the table beside it.
“Here you go. Be careful; it’s hot. Sugars and creams?” I asked the cute elderly couple. They both nodded in sync, making me have to hold back an aww. “Is this enough for you?” I asked as I placed two creamers and sugars for each of them on the table. Once they nodded I was off to the table to the right of the elderly couple.
“Hello- Oh, hi Andy!” His name came out a little high pitched. It must be the effects of this unwavering good mood today. Despite the light blush that rose on my cheeks, I threw a grin his way. “What will you be having today?” He just stared at me for a moment as I began to shuffle the weight between my feet, feeling self-conscious.
“You look exquisite, pumpkin.” A second wave of blush attacked my face and neck while my heart seemed to beat a little faster. “I see y’all are quite busy today.” His voice has yet to fail to send a quiver down my spine.
" Uh, yes we are.” I nodded “I suppose it’s just a Mo’s day for everyone” I shrugged. He nodded in response before standing up, making me take several steps back. I caught a slight frown on his face before he turned away heading for the cashier area. “Um, w-what are you doing? Andy, you come back here.” I said as I followed him towards the cashier/worker area. I didn’t want to touch him for obvious reasons, but I was unsure of what else I could do.
“Oh Andrew, thank God you are here! Wouldn’t mind helpin’ would ya?” I heard Chelsea ask as she came by to pick up a few plates of food. I felt slightly embarrassed for forgetting that Andrew does lend a hand around the cafe from time to time.
“No ma’am. Where do ya need me at?” Chelsea pointed to an area towards the back where a few new customers have seated. Andrew shrugged off his jacket where a button up shirt seem to cling to his muscles, and grabbed a white apron. It was slightly amusing to see him wearing an apron with a lace trim but I wasn’t going to say anything since he was helping. I decided to head back to the customers I’ve been attending to check on them and hand out checks and food.
About two hours past before the numbers began to dwindle down, just as our coworker Emily came through the door. I had just finished cleaning the table when I felt unfamiliar arms wrap around me. I gasped as my heart started pumping faster and my breathing increased. My hearing started to slowly focus on the sound of blood pumping in my ears as my body froze. The foreign arms were removed from me probably a few seconds later, but it felt like minutes.
“Breathe, suga’, you’re alright.” I felt the breath return to my lungs as I followed Chelsea’s instructions and listened to her voice. It didn’t take long as I returned back to the reality of things and saw Emily’s worried face. Emily seemed like a good person, honestly. However, I didn’t know her that well. I only worked with Emily a few days out of the week and during the days she did work it was only in the evenings for a few hours.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Ally. I didn’t mean to frighten you. I just wanted to thank you for yesterday...I know it couldn’t have been easy for you to give me that $20 tip but because of you, my family was able to get some food last night so thank you!” She beamed at me. I glanced at Andrew who was already staring at me with this weird look on his face. I flinched as I wondered if he was upset with me giving the tip to someone else.
“It really was no problem, Emily.” I gave her a small smile back before heading towards the cashier area, getting ready for my lunch break. Chelsea managed to sneak away for a lunch break while Andrew and I covered her.
“Hey, pumpkin ready to go for our walk? We can grab some real lunch this time too since you haven’t eaten yet.” I turned towards Andrew, who was behind me, to see him giving me one of his breathtaking smiles. I hesitate to go with him seeing as I still haven’t resolved the issue with Meghan. Although a part of me told me to go, that he was going to have a positive impact in my life and I should take all the positivity I could get. I didn’t trust him still, but I had a feeling that maybe I could learn to like Chelsea. Speaking of which, she managed to pop up beside me where she decided to answer for me.
“Of course she would, right Ally?” She slung her arm around my shoulder- an action only she could get away with without me having a panic attack.
“It’s okay, Chelsea. Maybe another time, eh?” I frowned as I saw him try to hide the disappointment in his eyes. It’s now or never, Ally. Take a chance.
“I would like to go actually. I don’t really know where to go for lunch so I could use help deciding.” This was true as I didn’t go out to eat since I had a tendency to go to stores and buy food there instead of fast food or dining in. If I thought his smile was breathtaking before, it was nothing compared to the one I just received.
“Great! Give me a sec’ to grab my jacket...Alright, let’s go, pumpkin!” I took a deep breath as I said a quick prayer, hoping that I didn’t make the wrong decision.