*This piece is part of an ongoing short story*
You can read parts one through thirteen HERE!
It doesn’t take Helena long to realize Bitty knows nobody. The youth hostel has let her reinvent the meaning of a temporary stay, she goes to school only when she can and talks to no one.
“Why me?” Helena asks carefully.
“Why you, what?”
“Why did you talk to me? You don’t seem to talk to anyone.”
“I wanted to find out where you get your hair done.”
They are sitting on the very thin mattress that covers the very basic bed Bitty sleeps in. There are four wooden drawers built roughly into the underside of the bed, a sink screwed into the wall and a hook on the back of the door.
“Where do you keep all your stuff?”
She hops off the bed and opens the four drawers. All are empty but one. Helena takes in its contents. A clear plastic bag that has seen better days contains a toothbrush and a travel size tube of toothpaste. There’s an ancient looking pair of clippers and a comb, two worn looking hand towels, a few pairs of underwear, socks, a plain black t-shirt and a pair of jeans.
Helena has to stop herself from asking if this is it. If this is all Bitty owns in the whole entire world.
“How do you afford this?”
They look at each other and an understanding passes between them. An appreciation that this isn’t all that much. That in the big world, this is less than nothing, but that in Bitty’s world, it’s everything.
“I groom dogs.” She tells me after sitting back down on the bed. “I go to people’s houses and I actually wash, trim and clip their dogs.”
“I’m serious. It’s amazing. Do you like it?”
“I love it. The dogs are awesome. I can’t believe people pay me to do it. I mean, why wouldn’t they just do it themselves?”
“Lots of reasons, I guess. My neighbors have a dog and they even pay someone to walk it.”
“Crazy, right? I get paid to play with pups. Every kid’s dream.”
“You should start offering the walking thing. You could double your money.”
“Maybe. I’m already having a tough time fitting in school and homework around having a pseudo job.”
“I guess you cut your own hair?”
“Gee, thanks. Is it that obvious?”
“Now you shut up. Look who you’re talking to.”
Helena’s hands rush up to feel her patchy scalp.
“I’m asking because it’s so perfect. So even. Clearly you’ve had the opportunity to practice. Besides, I saw the clippers in your drawer.”
“You’re right. I am amazing.”
“Nice try, but that comment was about your gig, not you.”
Bitty lies back on her flat pillow and lifts her legs up to rest on the wall in front of her.
“Admit it, Harris. “I’m the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen.”