Hi! It’s me! Lily!
So today was… well… interesting.
Sabby did not talk to Beth last night. At all. She never came back out of her room. It was very tense. I just kept a low profile, I was just glad it wasn’t me for once. Beth didn’t come out either, except to use the bathroom. She didn’t look sorry. At all.
So the next day, we ate breakfast, and Sabby told us in clipped tones to get dressed and get in the car. Beth started to protest, but Sabby told her that she could either get dressed and get in the car, or Sabby could dress her, hogtie her, drag her into the car, and she was still going to go where Sabby wanted, it was her choice. It says a lot that I wasn’t actually sure how serious Sabby was. So we all got dressed and piled into the car. On the way Sabby told us that school was cancelled for today, and maybe for the rest of the week as well, and we were going to have a “field trip” instead.
We pulled up next to a homeless shelter, and Sabby told us all to get out, and we walked in. She found someone in charge, and said “these three are going to volunteer today. The oldest one and the youngest one are here for a school volunteering activity, feel free to put them to work. The middle one, well, she told me last night exactly what she thinks of what you do and who you provide services to, I want you to teach her a lesson.” The lady nodded.
“We can always use the extra help,” she said, “And I know just the job for her.”
I didn’t really mind, honestly. It got me out of the house. Beth looked furious, but she knew better than to speak up. The lady in charge, a strict, no nonsense older woman with a kindly face, gave us our assignments.
David was put to work cleaning off the tables and chairs with hand sanitizer in preparation for lunch. I was back in the kitchen, making sure the cooks had what they needed and cleaning any dishes they dirtied. Beth was put to work cleaning the breakfast dishes and taking the garbage out. She was seething, but what could she do?
Come lunchtime, they put us all to work serving the food. It wasn’t the greatest food, in fact, it was pretty bland, but it was hot and the people seemed to appreciate it. There were all sorts of different people – some were obviously not really up to any good, some doing stuff I didn’t want to think about, but there were families, too. One that popped out at me was a family that looked kind of like ours – a mother and father and a girl about Beth’s age. She was a little shorter than Beth, with jet black hair, a pretty but plain face, and a thin body. Dunno why she wasn’t in school, but there she was. They were wearing ratty clothes and looked like they’d seen better days.
Beth was having some attitude, honestly, when it came to serving the food. She was not pleasant. She’d take the plate and plop the food onto it with a bit of attitude and move on to the next one. That girl – though – she wasn’t having it.
“Lose the attitude, rich girl,” she said, not menacingly, but matter of fact.
Beth just glared at her, and plopped the food onto her plate. “I don’t want to be here,” she said. “My mom made me.”
The girl just looked at the food, looked at Beth, and smushed the food into Beth’s face. Then she went to sit with her parents, a satisfied look on her face. She crossed her arms and silently took the berating her parents were giving her. Her face just said, “worth it!”. Sabby had seen the whole thing, she was serving too, but apparently she had decided that Beth had it coming and didn’t say a word. Beth looked murderous as she was wiping the food off her face.
Finally, after an animated conversation, her parents grabbed her by the arm and dragged her over to Beth. “Say you’re sorry,” the mother said.
“I’m not,” she said defiantly. “Now this rich girl’s face matches her attitude.”
“We’ve taught you better than that, no matter how unpleasant -“
“Taught me better than that? This girl, with her nice clothes and fancy hairstyle and makeup and attitude, and we live… here. Here,” she said, with a look of disgust on her face. “I don’t have to take someone like this giving me attitude.”
“If you assault the people serving food they’ll kick us out, then where will we go? Now apologize.”
“I’m sorry,” she said, completely insincerely. There was a thoughtful look on Sabby’s face. Beth looked like she wanted to say something, but Sabby’s eyes were boring into her. “It’s okay,” she said, just as insincerely, and plopped some food onto the plate of the next person in line.
After lunch, and washing the dishes, we came home. Sabby told us all that we were going to be doing the same thing for the rest of the week. Beth sulked immediately off to her room.
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”, I asked, a bit on eggshells.
She deflated. “No, I’m not. But Beth was so far out of line… I’m not done, either. Do you mind ordering some pizza? I have to run an errand.”
“Oh, just get different kinds, enough for, oh… eight people. And get some wings and soft drinks too.”
“Eight people? … Sabby?”
She smiled, an evil, horrible smile. “We were looking for a friend for Beth, right? Well, seems to me we just hit the jackpot.”
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”
“I talked to her parents,” she said softly. “They seem like nice people. Just fell on some hard times. Their daughter… isn’t doing very well, either. I think they need each other.”
“If they don’t kill each other first.”
“There’s that” she said softly. “Maybe I don’t know what I’m doing. But I’m Beth’s mother. I can’t let her keep going this way, either. I’m going to go pick them up, and they’re going to have dinner with us, and we’re going to see what happens.”
I shrugged. “I hope you’re right.”
“Me too,” she said, quietly. Then she left. I got on the computer and ordered enough pizzas for a small army.
About the time the pizza arrived, Sabby did as well, family in tow. They all came in, the mother and father seemed somewhat at home, but the girl looked absolutely sullen. Sabby yelled for Beth and David to come down for dinner.
Beth came down the stairs, and stopped.
“You!,” they said in unison.
“How could you, mom?”, they both said, in unison.
Sabby fixed Beth with a hard gaze. “Sit down. You will treat our guests with respect.”
And the woman said to the girl, “And we are guests in their house. Leave the attitude at the door, Crystal.”
I guess her name was Crystal.
She just sat there sullenly, glaring at Beth, and picked up a piece of pizza. She mumbled thanks and tucked in. I guess no good wasting pizza.
They did enjoy the pizzas, I guess I ordered well. While they were eating, we learned a bit about them. They were named Bob and Desiree Davis. They had lost everything. The father was actually a pretty highly qualified engineer, but his company had let him go due to the virus, and he hadn’t been able to find a job. The mother was a stay at home mom, and she tried to keep the family afloat, but couldn’t find a good enough job, and they lost everything. He was trying to find a job, but having no luck, because he didn’t have an address. It was just a terrible situation all around. Crystal didn’t have any other family to stay with, so she ended up staying with them at the shelter. She had gone to school, but with the virus, she had to do distance learning, and didn’t have access to the lessons, so they couldn’t make it work.
“What kind of engineer are you?”, Dave asked.
“I’m a structural engineer. We always have need of new engineers. Do you have a resume?”
“No promises,” he said. “I have a few openings on my team, and if you’re qualified, I see no reason we couldn’t at least get you an interview. Of course, how that goes is all up to you.”
“I’m qualified, I have all the relevant degrees and licenses. But I don’t have an address…”
“Bob, if I can get you an interview, and if you were to be offered a job, would you take it?”
Bob’s lips were quivering. “That’s all I ever wanted, to be able to take care of my family,” he said. “It’s been so hard. I don’t know why it’s been so hard to find a job lately, but no one wants me.”
“Wait here.” He stood up and went to make some calls.
Desiree and Sabby made some small talk. Beth and Crystal were still looking at each other with some suspicion, but at least the outright hostility was gone.
“Does your dad mean it? Can he get mine a job?”
Beth shrugged. “Maybe. He’s a pretty nice guy, and he’s good at his job. If your father’s any good, I’m sure he can work something out.”
“He’s very good!,” Crystal said defensively.
Beth shrugged. “Not my call.”
“I guess not.” She was quiet “I’m sorry for smushing that food in your face.”
“I’m sorry for being a snot. I was just mad at my mom for ruining my plans.”
“What was so important that you got that mad at her?”
“Nothing important,” Beth said embarrassedly.
“We’re not friends.”
“Of course not.”
“You’re still a rich girl with an attitude.”
“And you’re still rude.”
They were quiet.
“Can we keep in touch?”
A touch of a smile graced Beth’s mouth. “I’d like that.”
Dave returned. “I just called my pastor. He said you can stay with him and his family until you get back on your feet. I expect to have your resume as soon as you settle in, and I’ll speed up the process as much as I can. The pastor will help you with computer access, a place to work, that kind of thing. We’ll need to find you transportation too but I’m sure we can figure something out.”
“Why?”, Bob said. “You don’t know me. Why would you help me like this?”
Dave shrugged. “I need a good engineer, and you need a job and to get back on your feet. Why wouldn’t I help you?”
“I won’t let you down.”
Dave smirked. “See that you don’t. After all, I’d be your new boss. Sabby, do you mind taking them back to get their stuff and then over to the pastor’s?”
“Not at all. Everyone eat their fill?”
The nodded, and Sabby left along with them.
I smiled to myself. It looks like Beth may have finally found the friend we were looking for.
Sabby does have her moments of brilliance.