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Maple Street Memories #5

Episode Five

She dreaded moving from the neighborhood.  She loved growing up on Maple Street.  All the streets around her mom’s house were named after trees.  Birch, Elm, Walnut, Oak, and Maple were where she had walked and ridden her bike.  She would miss the security she felt knowing all of her neighbors.  She knew some of the newer residents took pity on the poor mother and daughter, but several of them had lived there before her mother moved in and had known her since she was a baby.

Their older car and lack of fancy clothes and dinner parties painted a picture of their modest life.  Her mother had always kept the house in top condition, but the last few years had taken their toll and the exterior was worn and tired.  Mary and her mother had spent many hours tending the flower gardens around the house, but when Helen became ill, the flowers had suffered.

All their extra time and money went to pay for medical needs.  Helen received a stipend each month and with Mary’s wages and tips, they were able to pay their bills, but the additional expenses had drained all of their savings and without the monthly income, Mary wouldn’t last long.

When she had the discussion about finding a place with Bob, he had pointed out that owning a home required an investment in maintenance and thought that renting would be a better option for Mary at the moment.  She felt the sting of tears as she looked upon the furniture and the rooms she loved.  She pushed aside the dread she felt and went back to the inventory list.

Weeks went by and the mailbox remained empty of a response.  Knowing Mary was stressed about finances, Bob recommended her to his firm as a house cleaner.  She had been spending several hours in the afternoons cleaning and helping to set up homes for open house events.  The extra money had muffled the constant anxiety she suffered when it came to her budget.

One afternoon when she was free from her second job, she indulged in a glass of lemonade on the porch and a library book.  She had been working nonstop since her mother’s death and put her feet up to relax for a few hours.  Her escape to the English countryside with Jane Austen was interrupted by the ringing of the phone.

She put the book down and trotted to the phone on the table under the staircase.  “I’m calling for Mary Williams,” said a deep voice on the other end of the call.

“This is Mary.”

“This is Charles Bernard.  You wrote me a letter a few weeks ago.”

“Yes, Mr. Bernard.  Uh, I did.  I tried to see you at your office, but your receptionist told me that wasn’t possible.”

“Ah, yes, Gladys mans the gate with an iron fist.  Well, my dear, I’m so glad you wrote to me.  I wanted to invite you to lunch so we could chat about the past and I can tell you more about how I knew your mother.”

“Oh, my, well that’s kind of you.  I get off at two each afternoon, so that’s a bit late for lunch.  I, um, can’t really afford to take any time off work.”

“Not to worry.  After two is fine with me.  We can do a late lunch.  My treat.  I thought it might be convenient to meet at Pierre’s in Oakmont.  You choose the day that works best for you.”


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