Time in Willow Creek: 5 months, 2 weeks
When Juliana wasn’t gallivanting around town, she was at the library with Harriett. Not only did she go there for her Simlish lessons, but also Harriett put her to work. Harriett had been thinking about the conversation she and Hillary had about Juliana’s future. It was true what Hillary said, and Harriett knew it. Even though she wouldn’t mind if Juliana stayed forever, she recognized it wasn’t helping to keep her at home under watchful eyes. Juliana was almost 19 years old. Most girls her age were either in college or working. Although Harriett wasn’t trying to get rid of her, she thought it prudent to begin preparing her for the real world. She was always a hands-on kind of teacher, and in a way she was already giving Juliana some good life experiences. At the library, she would have her do small tasks like pick up the toys at the end of the night or put the children’s books back in alphabetical order. Later, when she was reading on the first grade level, Harriett let her read to a small group of primary age students at the summer reading program. Recently, Harriett began giving her more serious tasks. One could call her a junior library associate. Her tasks were to man the front desk for a couple of hours and patrol the computer area and make sure the patrons weren’t doing things they should not have been doing. Between the librarian—who was paid to work—and Juliana’s help, Harriett had time to focus on what she really loved the most: being with the people. She put the community in Community Library
When Harriett had finished a lap around the library, she stopped by the front desk to check on Juliana. “Hey puddin’! Everything good up here?”
The one thing that made Juliana comfortable about doing more things around the library was Harriett was always one glance away. After what happened to her a month ago, there was no way Harriett was going to let Juliana get into an uncomfortable situation ever again. “You’re doing a good job!
“So, listen. Kids will be out for fall break soon, and we’re going to have story hour every day around lunchtime. I think you should read one of the days.”
Juliana’s eyes were as big as melons. “Me?”
“Of course you, silly! You’re reading so well these days, and the children love you…why not?”
“But, I… I…”
“I know, I know. You’re nervous… And that’s ok! Everybody gets a lil nervous sometimes. I’ll be there, of course, but you need to come outta that shell, puddin’!” Harriett patted Juliana on the back and went about her business. On her way back to her office, she ran into the librarian, Kara Cole.
“Oh! Harriett, good. I just got off the phone with the printing company, and they said they’ll make the changes to the fliers without charging us the last minute change fee!”
“Oh thank the Lord! The more money we can keep in our budget the better. You know, I asked Juliana to read one of the days.”
Kara faked a smile and hoped her tone matched her face. “Oh. Well, isn’t that nice.”
Kara didn’t mind Juliana hanging around the library, but she certainly did not care for her doing actual library duties. She didn’t think it was right and felt like Harriett was grooming Juliana for her job. However, Harriett was her boss and she felt like there was very little she could say about it without appearing insensitive to what Harriett was trying to do.
At the end of Juliana’s specified time at the front desk, she took a break and sat near the children’s area. School was about to dismiss, and there were a group of children who came to the library after school to wait for their parents. They were mainly children of single moms who couldn’t afford proper child care. The main library downtown did not allow unaccompanied children for more than a half hour, so Harriett made it known that children were welcome at her library as long as they were well behaved. She enjoyed looking after the children and finding activities for them to do while they awaited their parents. Once she discovered Juliana enjoyed children, she allowed her to join in on the fun as well. The children thought it was so cool that she was from another country and had an accent. Harriett made sure no one made fun of her and they were patient when speaking with her.
“Hi Miss Juliana.”
She turned around and saw her favorite little friend, Manu Casas. She knew nothing of where he came from or what his home life was like, but she got the feeling his family was struggling—a scenario with which she was all too familiar. His clothes were plain and sometimes not clean. His shoes were a little worn too. She knew what he was going through and carved out a special place in her heart just for him. “Hello Manu!”
“When school is out in a few weeks, my mom is gonna make me come here every day for story hour. Are you going to read to us? Please say you will Miss Juliana!”
Harriett had already volunteered her, so she had no choice. But, hearing this sweet little voice pleading with her made her decide to do whatever she needed to do to get over the fear. She couldn’t let her young friend down.