Time in Willow Creek: 2 weeks, 6 days
Harriett arose early the next morning to open the library. As she walked up the steps, she thought she heard someone sniffling, so she walked around to see if anyone was there.
“What in the cow plants are you doing there?” Similarly to the previous night, Juliana’s silence was telling. “You poor thing. We’re gonna have to learn how to communicate, honey! I’m not a mind reader!”
The girl sighed. The language barrier probably frustrated her too. Despite being a stranger and not knowing her mental state, everything within Harriett wanted to help her. Juliana’s thick hair was oily like it hadn’t been washed in quite sometime. She had thick body frame, but she was so skinny. The poor girl wasn’t doing so well on her own.
“You poor dear. I know you’re probably hungry, so I’ll tell you what. How about I take you home and whip you up something to eat, huh?”
At last! They were getting somewhere. “Yes! Food! Awww, you are hungry. Come on. Let’s go. I’ll make you some food.”
They stood to head home, but before Harriett could usher her to the house, Juliana stopped her and tried to say something.
“You’re welcome, honey!”
The Humphries lived at Umbrage Manor which was literally next door to the library, so poor, famished, exhausted Juliana didn’t have to walk that far. When they got to the house, Harriett sensed some anxiety inside Juliana. She wouldn’t step onto the property, and she looked scared.
“What’s the matter, honey? You don’t have to be afraid. It’s all right.”
She could have smacked herself for attempting to talk to the girl. How else could she make her understand she only wanted to help? What gesture could she make that told her she trusted her, but she would have to trust Harriett in return? She lowered her head and chuckled internally when it occurred to her what she would need to do. Juliana was far from infancy, but she was like a baby who needed to be shown the world. Harriett extended her hand to her. Juliana hesitated for a moment, but she did take Harriett’s hand. She smiled, gave her a reassuring nod, and took her to the kitchen.
Despite her revelation about non-verbal gestures, she was a talker and could help to babble at the girl. “Now you just sit right there, and I’ll whip you up some of my award-winning buttermilk pancakes!”
Harriett wondered what she was thinking and hoped bringing her into their home was the right thing to do. She was a charitable woman and loved to help the needy, but sometimes she got burned by people who wanted to take advantage of her kind heart.
Harriett was surprised to see Hillary up so early. “Good morning.”
“I thought you went to the–hey, who’s that sad little thing?”
“That’s Juliana! I found her at the library. Poor thing. I think she’s homeless. I’ve been seeing her all around town all week! She doesn’t even speak Simlish.”
“Bless her heart! I’m glad you brought her here. She looks like she definitely needs the help.” Hillary sat in front of Juliana. “She’s so cute, mama!”
“She’s not a puppy, Hillary.”
“How you doin! I’m Hillary!”
As Harriett mixed the batter, she glanced at Juliana to see if she could figure out what she was feeling. Her heart went out to her. She couldn’t imagine what Juliana was going through being homeless in a country where she did not speak the language only to end up in a stranger’s home.
A loud groan from Juliana’s mouth interrupted her thoughts. It was heartbreaking how hungry and miserable she was.
“Mama? Are those pancakes gonna be ready soon? I think she’s dying.”
“Coming right up!”
She quickly finished the batter, made a stack, and presented it to Juliana. “Here you go, sweetheart.” Though her main goal was to fill her stomach, she couldn’t help but hope she enjoyed them. After all, they weren’t award-winning for nothing, and she had a reputation to uphold.
“Mama’s pancakes always make me feel better.”
They both watched Juliana take the plate. Hopefully they didn’t make her feel uncomfortable with the way they stared at her.
She cut a slice and put the fork in her mouth and chewed.
“See! I told you mama’s pancakes would make you feel good!”
Harriett grabbed a plate for herself and sat down with the girls.
“What are we gonna do with her, mama?”
“Well, I reckon she can stay here until she gets her life together. But…I’m gonna have to teach her some Simlish!”
“Can you do that?”
“Child, I can teach anything to anybody. I don’t need to know her language to teach her.”
When Juliana finished her breakfast, she sat there smiling although she looked dreadfully tired. “Thank.”
“Thank you,” Harriett said using her hands to point out the two syllables. “Say, thank you. Go on, now. Say, thank you.”
“See! I can teach anything, Now let’s get her upstairs to bed. She looks like she’s been up all night.”
“Yes, honey! You want to sleep, right?”
She nodded. “I sleep.”
“Ok. Come on.”
Harriett motioned her to follow. Harold had slipped into the kitchen undetected and got a plate of pancakes. He ate in the dining room and didn’t look happy about having a house guest. “Who’s that, and why is she here?”
“That’s Juliana, and we are just doing our Christian duty.”
“Hmph. Your Christian duty. We don’t need nobody else in this house!”
“I don’t think I asked your permission, Harold. She will be here until she ain’t!”
He glared at all three of them as they passed by–especially Juliana.
Harriett couldn’t be sure of Juliana’s age, but she looked like she was younger than Hillary. Maybe young enough to have just graduated. Either way, she knew someone somewhere was probably wondering about her. There was no way she could facilitate communication between her and that person without proper communication with herself. It would be a long time before she knew the language well enough to tell her where she came from and how she ended up in such a bad way.
“This here was my son’s room, but we never bothered updating it. Poor kid spent all of his teenage years and half his adult years in here! But, now that you’re here, we’ll have to do something with it so you’ll be comfortable. I know you have no clue what I’m saying, but I hope you feel welcome despite what my husband thinks.”
“Let me show you where the bathroom is.” Harriett motioned for her to follow again. They went just down the hall, and Harriett let Juliana go in and check it out. “Bath-room,” Harriett said slowly. “Can you say it? Bath-room.”
“Close enough. Let’s get you to bed now.”
Harriett showed her back to the bedroom, and Juliana disappeared under the covers. As soon as her head hit the pillow, she was out like a broken lamp.
“Oh, sweet Lord,” Harriett said as she gazed upon the child. “We sure have our work cut out for us! I’m going back to the library. You make sure Harold doesn’t get her… As a matter of fact, just bring her by the library when she gets up, ok?”
“Yes, mama. I’ll keep an eye on her.”
“Ok. What are you doing today? Playing with Jase?”
“We’re 22, mama. We don’t play anymore. We hang out.”
“Call it what you want, but…you’re definitely playing with him. I’ll see ya later.”