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by linzy bruno  
2/26/2016 / Short Stories

Clara grew up with three younger siblings and had always dreamed of having her own children, but was never able to conceive. Now in her forties; she had filled her home and her life with other people's children, some of which found out about her group home through knowing her personally.

Devo was a quaint little town, in a "sleepy" New England state where most people knew their neighbors quite well. Her estranged husband dropped by occasionally for a visit, but Clara knew that he still wanted their marriage. She left him due to his emotional immaturity in their relationship two years prior; the same year her parents died in a car crash, but they remained legally wed. It was at that time that she moved back into the family home and transformed it into "Hinklee House." 'My life is so filled with irony,' she thought; her lips curling up with her sweet smile. She giggled out loud for a moment, as she threw off the covers and stretched. She hurried downstairs to start the morning coffee before anyone else woke up that pretty morning in May. She opened the window to let in the fresh air and hear the birds' sing their sweet morning songs. She took her cup of coffee outside and sat in her biggest folding chair and stared at the sun rising, as it shone over the water of the beautiful lake she'd lived near all her life.

She enjoyed growing up in the huge five bedroom house, with its large eat-in kitchen, formal dining room, den and old-fashioned parlor [extra large living room], as well as the lake, on a lush three acres and was only away from this special place during her eight year marriage. As she sat enjoying all the pretty sights and sounds of the early morning hour, recalling the year she started Hinklee House Group Home For Teens/Youth; she was startled by her sudden appearance of her estranged husband by her side. "Oh my GOD, Ben; you scared me! Don't sneak up on me like that!" she said, with a chuckle and a big smile, as she slowly stood up and stretched.

"How's things going around here?" he inquired.

"Oh good, so far it's been a quiet morning. Do you wanna sit?"

Ben sat down; angling his folding chair to face her's.

"I was just thinking back to when I started this place; I had to fill out more paper work than I ever saw in one place, advertise for residents to fill beds, get funded, hire help.....And I really appreciate you keeping it to yourself.....ya know....I was already at the six residents they allow last year, but still I let Adrian to move on account of her mother being one of my closest friends and all and here she was in such a spot...."

"Yeah, didn't you tell me that her parents were at their wits end with her rebellious behaviors and drugs and so they buttered you up real good...oh and you just took a fraction of what you normally get under the table?"

"Yeah, she was raised with everything handed to her and then when she got older, she rebelled in a MAJOR way! Anna came to me; begging for my help! She said her husband was seriously going to throw Adrian out on the street!" Clara replied.

" can count on me! I'll never tell you went over your limit ....and besides, like you said, her parents are going to take her back, as soon as they feel like you've "fixed" her! Right?!"

"Yeah....I think she is improving too.... Her parents definitely care a lot! I am quite sure that she won't be here much it'll all work out fine. What was I to do? I was between a rock and a hard place..." Suddenly Clara stopped talking.

"Yeah, she's really more like a houseguest.....What's the matter," Ben inquired.

"Shhhhh....I think I hear screaming coming from upstairs.

"Oh my God!" he replied; starting to stand up. Being used to those sort of occurrences he nodded politely and slowly walked off, while Clara was thinking: 'I guess quiet morning time is over.' She hurried up the stairs to find Terry standing in the hall. "What happened?" Clara asked.

"Singer and Star are at it again!" Terry replied; walking away with a faint smile.

'I don't know why they can't just call each other by their real names...' Clara thought. She found Singer, whose real name was Devin and Star, whose real name was Tony in Devin's room. Tony was pounding his fist into his hand and Devin was curled up in the fetal position on his bed." "Listen Tony, I know how irritated you get when Devin sings so loud in the morning, but you have to show some tolerance!"

"How bout YOU tell that devil to shut the hell up!" he screeched.

Tony, back to your room NOW!" Clara ordered; pointing to the door. Tony obliged her, with a scowl. Then she sat on the edge of Devin's bed and rubbed his back; knowing exactly how to soothe him. When she could tell he was feeling better, she went to Tony's room and knocked on his door.

"WHAT? NOW?" He hollered, as the sound of her knocking began causing a pounding in his head.

"I'll speak with you when you calm down," she informed him and went back downstairs to start breakfast. Meanwhile Adrian had gone into Tony's room to try and make him feel better. "You okay?" she asked him, with sincerity and concern filling her huge brown eyes.

"Yeah, I'm okay. I'm glad to see you," he tried to say seductively, as he patted his bed with his hand. Adrian slowly sat down at the very edge of the bed. While the two were having their conversation, they were unaware that Devin was listening to every word. After Clara completed some prepping, she went back upstairs; calling: "Come on my Helper Elves! It's time to start cooking your breakfast! We've got waffles and sausages! Come on! Rise and shine!" she shouted. Everyone came out of their rooms, except for Tony and Adrian, but then Clara, now upstairs, noticed Adrian's door was wide open and empty, so she quickly approached Tony's door. "Tony come on open up!" she said, as she started imagining them in bed together. Tony slowly made his way to the door; rolling his eyes in annoyance and opened it. Clara rushed into the room to find Adrian sitting on Tony's bed; fully dressed. Clara let out a big sigh of relief, which both residents acknowledged with sort of a half-grin they flashed toward one another.

"Everything's cool Countess! We were just talking. Adrian is NICE! She knew I needed someone to vent to, so she came over here to my room to chat with me!"

"Okay okay I just wanted to check on you! Just come downstairs now and do your part; anyone who doesn't help can fend for themselves!" she replied, as she turned with a frown and went back down the stairs. Tony and Adrian followed her. All of the residents worked together quite well and all seemed to be in especially good moods, except Devin; who appeared to be feeling sad and unsociable, due to the sting of Tony's treatment of him and Amy, who sat planted in her favorite chair; gazing at out the window, and across the glimering still water, as she usually did at this time each morning.

"What's wrong Devin?" asked Terry; teasingly, since she already knew the answer. "Nothing," he replied, as he headed toward a chair at the opposite side of the large kitchen. Terry was the only resident with her own bedroom since the others were always making jokes about her appearance; saying: "So is that a boy or a girl?" So Clara made that decision; thinking it was best for everyone and over time she could tell it was the right decision, as it kept the conflict down, at least somewhat. Terry sat down at the table in a spot nearest Amy and stared at her; staring out the window.

"Come on Amy," you can make your waffle now!" called Clara, with a warm smile. Amy slowly walked over to the waffle iron, with her head down; her long, uncombed hair grazing her face.

"Hey come on Skits!" hollered Tony.

"Shhhhh!" Tony, don't called her that!" Clara whispered in his direction, with her hand cupped over her mouth discreetly. Then Lenox; who was standing next to Clara, let out a huge laugh, which caused her to spit her milk all over Tony. He just turned and walked away; seemingly undisturbed. However, Jonah, who was dangerously close to Tony at the time; who'd been suffering from anxiety, suddenly began running upstairs; screaming: "I have to get these pajamas off me!" That triggered Lenox to laugh even harder, as she folded at the waist; holding her stomach with both hands. Clara shook her head in disapproval, as she glared at Lenox.

"Sorry," Lenox suddenly said, with a tone of voice Clara could tell was completely insincere. Then she ran; screaming up the stairs, went into her bedroom, with a slam of the door and started screaming louder, as she pulled out strands of her hair in a full-blown fit, while everyone was thinking the same thing: 'Screamer's at it again.' Clara sat down at the table, while the others finished eating. Everyone ate silently, as they tried not to ignore Lenox's screaming. After breakfast, Clara headed upstairs to get ready for the day, but she had to turn back and run down the stairs, when the phone started ringing.

"Hi Clara! How are you?" bellowed the voice. "Hi Stella! I'm fine and you?" "Ummm.....I have a huge problem, actually.....can I come over right away?" "Sure!" Clara replied. A little while later, Stella arrived at the door. "Come on in," Clara greeted her; opening the huge front door.

"Oh my God Clara I need your help! I don't know what I'm gonna do?!"

"Take it easy and sit down. I'll make us a cup of tea and you can tell me all about it," replied Clara.

"Well you know we've been having problems with our son Ralph right?"

"Y-e-a-h," Clara hesitantly replied.

"Well Tom is threatening to kick him out of the house! He's saying he's sick of Ralph not doing anything. He won't get a job. He sits around the house all day. He never wants to do anything since he graduated from high school last year! I told him we ALL need to regroup that's all! He suggested we ask you to take him JUST FOR A LITTLE WHILE but I said we should help him find a job. I told him you were full already and that he can't get a job if he's hanging out here! BUT then he GOT so ANGERY! SO I told him I'd come over here and talk to you about it. He insists that we only need you to take him for a month or so, while we all calm down and also we are going to look for a job for him while he's with you. Whadaya say Clara?"

"Wow! That's terrible! I'm so sorry you have to go through all that! I do agree that he should get a job of course, but I really don't think....."

"Oh please Clara!" Stella cried, with tears welling in he big green eyes.

"Let me think it over okay Stell? I have so much on my plate already and I have to talk my group now about some plans for this evening."

"Oh what are you planning?" "Most likely it'll be a bonfire, but we have to take a vote first."

"Oh that's sounds nice! Hey......I have an idea! Why don't you let Ralph join you guys and then you can see if the others like him! Oh please Clara!"

"Oh okay, I guess his just spending one evening with us won't hurt anything," Clara replied.

"Oh thank you Clara!"

"Here another cup of nice soothing tea before you go." Clara said; placing the cup on the table, but Stella headed for the door instead. "NO thanks!" she hollered; picking up her purse. "I'll bring Ralph by later!"

Clara shook her head and started heading upstairs; calling: "Come on everyone, it's time to take a vote as to what we're going to do tonight! We have a free day; no doctors, therapists or life coaches coming by!" Everyone came out into the hallway. Okay any suggestions?"

Amy raised her hand. "I wanna go to THE BUMPER CARS," she said, in her whiniest voice and with her most childish expression on her chubby face. Then she started to put her thumb in her mouth, but Clara distracted her and discreetly moved her hand from her face; saying:

"Okay, I have a great idea of what we can do! It's supposed to be nice out tonight! I say we have a bonfire! We can roast hot dogs on a stick and have chips and soda! Whadaya say?"

"Yeah!" everyone said; nodding their heads. After everyone took their showers and had lunch; they all cleaned their rooms and then worked on getting everything set for their fun-filled evening. Clara got a big tray out for carrying the hot dogs and condiments outside. Ralph arrived shortly after that, with an overnight bag that his mother had prepared. Clara wasn't surprised; she introduced everyone. After everything was set up in the backyard, everyone  gathered in the front and showed Ralph around. As they all slowly grazed the property, they happened to notice the same car go by three times.

"Clara, have you noticed that green Sudan? It went past here real slow like three times!" Lenox, said; tapping Clara on the shoulder.

"Yes, I did notice that.....strange......Okay everyone let's all go in the back and start the fire!" Clara replied; waving her arm in the air. Everyone wandered slowly to the backyard and started looking for the best stick in the pile on the ground that they had previously gathered. Clara started the fire. Then she sat down next to Lenox and gazed at the sun setting over the horizon. "Thanks for alerting me to that car, that was one of our neighbors, Victoria Ramsay."

"Oh you knew whose car that was?"

"Yeah, but don't worry; everything will turn out alright," Clara replied. Everyone was seemingly enjoying the party atmosphere and the music, the aroma of the wood burning in the fire and the company. "It's nice for a change isn't? I mean, no one is bickering," whispered Clara, as she leaned toward Lenox. Lenox just smiled and reclined in her chair; sucking on her burnt-up hot dog skin. Tony and Adrian seemed to be in a heavy, but pleasant conversation and most everyone else was enjoying eating, except for Amy, who sat by herself; as close to the water as she dared, as she busied herself writing her deceased mother a letter using only an old box of crayons she had kept from her younger years. Ralph began to look around and noticed Amy was alone. He slowly made his way over to where she was sitting on a blanket on the ground. The reflection of the flames dancing on her cheek and her untamed blonde hair shining even in the dim evening sky compelled him to get to know her, as he bravely moved in closer.

"Hey, you're name's Amy right?"

"Yeah," she replied; looking up from her writing. "......I.....I saw you sitting all by yourself and I thought you might like someone to talk to. I hate large groups anyway," he said, as he nervously looked around.

"Yeah sure," she replied, as she moved over a little bit on the blanket.

"Whatcha writin'?" he inquired, as he sat as close to her as he dared.

"A letter to my mother," she replied, as she continued to write.

"Oh where does she live?" he asked. "In heaven," she answered, as she noticed Jonah eavesdropping on their conversation. Jonah knew Amy spotted him, so hid behind a tree and continued to listen to their conversation:

"So what did they put you in this place for?" Amy asked him, with a look of compassion on her distraught face.

"Oh....well let me see.....first of all, my parents don't understand me..."

"Same with me, my dad I mean......but I do have this awesome Aunt Sarah; she's my mother's sister, well, she was anyway."

"That's cool.....I mean about your Aunt......Alls I know is, I've been really depressed. I graduated from high school last year and I haven't even decided what kind of job I should get! I don't know....I just feel sorta lost....I keep telling my parents I need a little time to figure things out, but they won't let up! Plus they keep bugging me about going to the doctor! If it's one thing I don't wanna do it's go to the doctor!" he explained.

"Wow you sound just like me!.....And just so you know.....around here, the doctor comes to us and we all get checked out whether we want to or not and whether we feel sick or not!"  

"Oh.....thanks for the info....You know that Clara wasn't really supposed to take me in right? I mean I know she hasn't made a definite decision yet, but we all know she's gonna say yes!"

"No I didn't know that."

"Yeah it puts her over her limit, now by two! BUT she's so big-hearted; knowing my parents were about to kick me out....she couldn't say no!....I doubt if she's even charging them anything, well not much anyway....So what's your deal?" he inquired; looking more deeply into her sad eyes.

"My father say I'm in my own world all the time. I just graduated high school last spring and I have no idea what to do be honest....I don't even feel ready to be out of high school! All I do is sit around and write and day-dream out the window....And all I really want is ta get outta this place, but to go where? I have no idea! I always think to myself that someday my prince will come and rescue me from all this boring, uselessness...."

"My parents want to put me here for a lot of the same reasons. They say I don't really have anything wrong with me, I just need to grow up and get a job!"

"I was hearing that same speech everyday myself!"

Ralph began to stare at Amy's round face and her Mickey Mouse T-shirt and felt unusually drawn to her. He looked around and didn't see anyone watching so he leaned in closer, as he parted his lips just a little bit. Amy closed her eyes and allowed his lips to touch hers ever so slightly. Then she quickly brushed back her hair and sat up straighter. "I don't really like my family," she said suddenly. "It seems all they do is annoy me and when they're not annoying me it's like, they hardly pay attention to me......" she replied; her voice trailing off.

Ralph put his arm around Amy's shoulder; completely clear to Jonah's watchful eyes from behind the tree. "I'm also sick of everyone else calling me "Skits," she complained; her lips in full-pout position.

'Wow, I can't believe what a baby she is! What does that new guy see in her?!,' Jonah thought. Then he got a big surprise, as Terry suddenly showed up to spy on Amy and Ralph from behind the tree. "I gotta go find Adrian! She won't believe this shit,' Jonah muttered to himself, as he walked away. He found her still engrossed in a heavy conversation with Tony. He overheard Tony refer to Devin as "The Devil" and Adrian advising him to try to be more tolerant of Devin:

"Come on, he isn't all that bad. I mean... I know he's annoying, but he doesn't mean any harm," she explained.

"Yeah, well I want everyone in this house to know that I'm the one with the talent! Haven't you heard my latest comedy routine?" Tony replied.

Adrian rolled her eyes, just as she noticed Jonah was near. She quickly walked away from Tony, with an irritated sigh and started talking to Jonah, for the sole purpose of making her point with Tony. Tony just threw up his arms saying: "Hey where ya goin'?! I'm telling you I'm the Star around this place! You just haven't been paying enough attention!" Adrian ignored his immature behavior and stood listening to Jonah's gossip about Amy:

"I was just over by Amy and Ralph and I saw them kissing! AND I heard her talking.....BOY she is SUCH a BABY! I can't image what he sees in her!" he laughed; trying to keep his voice down. "And as I was spying on them, who should show up, but Terry!" "Well that's because Terry is super nosey and no one here likes Amy anyway, except "the Countess" of course," Adrian replied; making quote lines with her fingers.

"Hahahaha," he replied, with a belly laugh. "Boy what I wouldn't give for a vodka and tonic right about now," Adrian remarked.

Jonah's face revealed his surprise and then he replied: "I'd rather have a Prosaic myself," he explained. "My parents made me stop taking it cuz they thought I liked it a little too much." he added. After that night of bonding, arguing and spying between some of the residents; Clara informed the group that Ralph was spending the night. For some reason, things in the house seemed even stranger the next morning, especially when they seemed to have little to do with the new addition to the household. Amy was already sitting at the window; staring out across the lake, when Clara came down the stairs to start the coffee and prep for breakfast. As she approached Amy to say good morning; she noticed she had been coloring in a tattered old coloring book and she was also sucking on her thumb. Amy immediately pulled her thumb away when she noticed Clara approaching her.

"Good morning Sweetie!" Clara said; ignoring what she had just witnessed.

"Mornin,' " Amy replied; sullenly.

Clara started getting the coffee out of the cabinet, when all of a sudden there were screams coming from upstairs. "Well that didn't take long!" Clara remarked jokingly, with a smile toward Amy, as she quickly made her way upstairs. "What in heck's all the screaming about!" she inquired, as she ran upstairs as quickly as she could.

"Adrian is making me SO MAD" Lenox hollered in Clara's ear.

"Why what did she do?"

"She won't shut her stupid f-ing mouth! That's what! She keeps trying to tell everyone that she doesn't need to be here! That she's the ONLY one of all of us that doesn't need to be here!!! AAA!" she grunted; folding her arms across her chest.

"Okay Adrian, you have no business talking like that! You stay here in the room please and Lenox, I understand why that made you angry, but you have to try to control yourself Sweetie, now go into the den and do a little quiet reading; maybe that will relax you."

Lenox went into the den and slammed the door. "Ms. Perfect, Countess" will never understand...." she muttered to herself, then she began to rip all the magazines that were piled on the desk.

A little while later Clara called out "Okay, Lenox we are all going to the library," as she knocked on the den door; unaware that Lenox was busy destroying her periodicals. "Come on my Helper Elves! I need you all to help find great books for us to read this month! Come on!" she continued summoning everyone, but, as she did; the house phone began ringing. Clara picked up the phone: "Hel-lo," she said; hesitatingly.

"Hi is this Clara?" asked the voice.


"Hi, this is Amy's Aunt Sarah from Florida..... I was hoping to talk to Amy. Clara looked over at Amy. She was still sitting gazing out of the window; dreaming about what great new life might be waiting for her on the other side of the lovely still water she found herself so often entranced in, and a little bit about Mickey Mouse.

Then Clara handed Amy the phone."It's your Aunt Sarah,"she informed her.

"Auntie Sarah? HI!" Amy hollered, as she ran out of the room. A few minutes later she reentered the kitchen. "My Auntie Sarah says she wants me to move to Florida with her. She said she had plenty of room and we can go to Disney World and everything! I said I would. She wants to talk to you," Amy announced; handing Clara the phone.

"Hello....Yes I understand. Yes it's definitely the best thing for Amy to be with family. Yes I'll be happy to help her pack or anything else she may need...okay we shall see you next week then. Okay, thank you for calling....Good bye," said Clara, as hit the end button on her phone and smiled at Amy. "Well AMY this it terrific news!" she declared.

"I know! I am SO happy," she replied. Then she ran quickly up the stairs to deliver the good news to Ralph, who was on his lap top. "Whatcha doin'?" she inquired; peering in through the partially opened door. "You know, Clara is waiting for all of us. We're going to the library," she informed him.

"I know, but I heard the phone ring, so I figured we had a few minutes."

"What are doing?" she asked him again.

"Looking for a job!" he replied.

"Really? BUT you said last night that you didn't know what kind of job you wanted. I thought you were going to wait until you figured things out before you start looking."

"I was, but.....well after our talk I got to thinking maybe I'd better start looking now," he replied. "What did you come running in here so excited about?" he inquired; not looking up from the screen.

"Oh exciting news! My Aunt Sarah, who lives in Florida is coming here next week to pick me up! She's taking me home with her! I'm finally gettin' outta this dump!"

"Awesome," Ralph replied. He stopped reading and sat back in his seat, with a sigh.

"What's the matter?" Amy asked. "Nothing, come on, let's go downstairs," he replied. At the library, everyone scattered to their favorite sections and Clara sat down and studied state laws about getting permission for extended number of residents living in a group home. 'At least I have one leaving next week and I haven't made Stella any promises yet,' she thought. 'Not that I really WANT any of my little helpers to leave me.' Later that morning, Clara finally went into the den and found the mess of torn magazines Lenox left, Ralph engrossed in his lap top and Jonah agonizing over his feelings for Adrian, as he attempted to translate his admiration into a written work of art and Adrian confessed to Tony that he really was the good-looking, talented one in the group:

"Well thanks for saying so! Hey did you hear the one about the drunk and the professor?.... I think you're talented too," he replied.

"Oh yeah, at what?" she inquired.

"At being a beauty! That's what I'll call you from now on: "Beauty!" he declared.

"Well......thank you; that's so nice of you to say!" she replied, with a slight grin. Then they were startled by Clara calling them down to lunch. Everyone gathered in the kitchen and began doing their part to get lunch on the table. Suddenly there was a knock on the door.

"Adrian will you please see who it is?" Clara asked. Adrian opened the door.

"It's Ben!" she shouted.

"Oh hi Ben, come on in! We were just about to have lunch, why don't you join us?" Clara called from the kitchen.

 "Oh thanks, I will!" he replied, as he pulled an extra chair up to the table. Ralph sat next to Amy and stared at her. Finally he leaned in close and whispered:

"I'm leaving here too very soon. I got myself a job! I wish you weren't moving so far away, I'm gonna miss you so much. You were one that made me see how badly I needed a job; something for myself," he confessed.

"I will miss you too," she replied, with a tear in her eye. "Hey everyone, good news, Ralph here has found himself a job!" she announced.

"Congrats!" said Ben. "When do you start?"

"I don't know.....I haven't called them yet," he replied.

"Then how do you know you have the job?" Ben asked.

"I KNOW I found the job I want and that's what matters!" he replied, as quickly stood up and ran up the stairs to his room.

"I'll go talk to him," Amy declared, as she got up from the table and followed him.

"Can I enter?" she asked; peering into the room. "Yeah," he replied. Amy sat down on the bed and stared into Ralph's sad eyes. "Why did you say you found a job?" she asked.

"Because I can feel it in my bones man.....I'm just a little scared and nervous about calling is all....Look, I know we just met, but I think I may have fallen for you last night.....and now well..... You're leaving and I only liked it here because of you.....I don't know what I'll do without you, so I just convinced myself I had the job before I even called them. I guess I was secretly hoping that if I got a job, I could move out and take you with me!"

"Ralph it's okay! We can keep in touch! We can Facebook and call and text one another and who knows.....maybe someday we can get together again...." she replied. "Yeah you're right! I shouldn't be upset! I DO think I found the right job for me too!"

"What kind of job is it?" she finally inquired. "A mechanic's assistant....I really like cars and want to learn and the ad says there are chances for advancement in the company, for those who are willing to learn! That's me," he replied; patting himself on the chest.

"Well you should call them!" Amy replied. "

Yes, I will. I'll do it right now!" "Hello, I was calling about your ad in the paper for a mechanic's assistant. I don't have much experience, but I am very willing to learn and I know working on cars is my destiny," he told the man on the phone.

"Okay, come in to see me today.....Sounds like you are just the guy we've been looking for....sometimes we get more outta someone when they are super willing to listen and learn," the man informed him.

"You mean it? Whoopee!" he shouted. "I'll be there! Amy I got the job!" he hollered, as he ran back up the stairs.

"AWESOME!" she shouted; giving him a big bear hug. The two went downstairs and sat back down at the table with the others, who were lingering in conversation. "Ralph got the job!" Amy happily announced.

"Congratulations!" everyone shouted. Then Ralph called his mother and she showed up soon after to take him home, but they stayed and talked for a little while before they left.

"Sit down and join us Stell!" Clara suggested; pulling up the last of the extra chairs.

"This good news calls for a toast!" declared Ben; lifting up his glass of orange juice. And let me just say......Clara, you have the number of residents you're supposed to have now and all of them are SO fortunate to have you!"

"Yeah, Clara I wanna thank you for always being so patient and kind to me," Lenox remarked. "In fact, you make me realize what a jerk I am when I'm being mean to the others."

"Yeah and I feel bad about last night....I mean it was a blast, but a lot of us were gossiping," offered Adrian.

"Yeah CLARA. You're SO much better than Disney World or Disney Land or any other theme park or ride..." declared Amy

"Yeah we're ALL SORRY," they all stated at the same time. "CLARA, CLARA, CLARA!" everyone shouted.

"Yeah and one more thing about you Clara," said Devin, "We ALL promise not to call you Countess anymore, I mean unless we say it seriously and bow first," he continued. "Right everyone?" "YES!" they shouted; lifting their glasses and clinking them.

Then Ben chimed in: "This lady has taught everyone a lot, even me! She has been a shining example of what is good and kind and right. She has her quirks, but she is truly the best! a LIFE-SAVER."

"Quirks? Like what," they all asked.

"Oh about the way she's petrified of mice! She won't even stay in the same house with a mouse! And how about the way she can't fall asleep unless she reads for a damn hour first and she's little obsessed with being clean too!" he continued...

Everyone started to laugh loudly. Clara walked over to where Ben was sitting and put her arm around his shoulder. He looked up at her with love in his eyes and she began to wonder why they couldn't be together. If he was able to be a real adult, there was nothing stopping them. Stella took Ralph home. He got the job and even went to the doctor and Amy went home with her Aunt Sarah. Ben continued his work as a novelist and moved back into Hinklee House and he and Clara ran their lives and Hinklee House together. One especially quiet morning; Ben worked tirelessly on a tricky paragraph in his story. "It's a good thing they don't count you into their rules about how many people can live here!" Clara said; teasingly, out of no where.

"YEAH! Hahahaha, funny!" replied Ben, with a big smile. "Ahhhhh....I sure hope there's no rule against me helping you around" he said suddenly, with a serious look on his face. "Let me at that computer!" She frantically replied.

"Not now, I'm in the middle of an important part of my manuscript and I've not quite fixed this paragraph yet!"

"OH......Where are my Helpers? We're going to the library!" Clara screeched; running out of thee room. "OH NO! NOT AGAIN!" Ben hollered; shaking his head.


I have been writing for many years. I really got serious when my 3 kids were still quite young, as they inspired me to write children's fiction nearly every day; observing them at play. These days I've been working hard on completely a Bible course online, THEN I'm going hard copy with my books!!

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