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Lives Changed Forever

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It’s the first day of annual leave for Joan as she had finally booked overdue 2 weeks break from work – she owns an accounting business. At 7.45am, Joan woke up in good mood as she had a wonderful long sleep and she did her morning routines – shower, brushed teeth, get dressed and making herself a breakfast with a mug of coffee. While she was sitting on the chair beside the kitchen island, she thoughts about what to do today and decided that she will be cleaning the house, change the bed sheets then go out to do the foods shop. Once she’s finished with the chores around the house, she got in her car and drove to supermarket nearby. After parking her car, further away from the shop – at the back of the car parks as she like to have a walk to the shop and to ensure that no other cars will be crashing into her car if she parked further away – she had spent about 1 hour in the supermarket, getting everything that she’ll need for this week. Returning to her car and filled the boot with the bags, was about to walk back to the front of the shop to return the trolley when she spotted a woman sitting inside an open tent with a screaming child in her arms, not far from where Joan’s car is parked, so Joan walked quick to return the trolley and walked back to the woman, “Hi, is everything ok there?”

The woman lifted her head so fast that Joan thought she’ll give herself a whiplash, their eyes met for the first time and Joan was surprised to see that the woman is stunning, even that her face is not clean, but Joan still think she’s stunning. “Umm… yeah. Just trying to calm down my daughter because she’s hungry but I can’t do anything until I find the food or money.” Vera looked down in embarrassment.
“What is your daughter’s name and yours?”
“I’m Vera and this is Grace.”
“Nice to meet you both. My name is Joan. Right, I’ve got foods in the car so do you want to come over and see what you can use to feed Grace?”
“Thank you for the offer but no thanks as I’ll unable to pay back for the foods.”
“No, no. I don’t want anything for the foods. Just come and take whatever you need for yourself and Grace.” Vera looked up to see if Joan is lying but she couldn’t find anything but honest in Joan’s eyes, so she got up and walked with Joan toward her car timidly. Joan opened the car boot and asked Vera to pass over Grace so she could search through the bags which Vera did. “Hello beautiful girl. You have such an exquisite eyes colour.” Joan kept cooing at Grace while Vera went through the bags and only took out milk, carrots, and box of biscuit.
“That’ll do for us. Thank you very much, Joan. Let me get Grace back then we’ll get out of your skin to allow you go back to whatever you were doing before you stopped by us.”
Joan saw what Vera had taken out, “Are you sure about these? That’s not enough for you both.”
“Yes, that’ll be enough.” Vera took Grace back from Joan’s arms and walked back to her tent with the things in one bag.

Joan shut the car boot and got in the car then drove home. While she was putting the foods away, Joan couldn’t stop thinking about Vera and Grace. Life isn’t fair if she’s living in this lush apartment, and she have everything that she needs but Vera is living in the tent with her daughter. Joan had made the decision that she’s going back there and get both girls here as soon as possible so she grabbed her car key and headed back to the supermarket. Parked in the same spot, got out of the car, and walked over to the tent.

“Hello again, pack up your stuff now as you both are coming with me.”
“Going to where?”
“My house.”
“What? Why? We both are ok here.”
“Nonsense. I can’t stop thinking about you both since I left here a while ago, so I want to help you and Grace. Just come with me so you both can have bath, warm meals and warm clothes.”
“I can’t let you do that. It’s too much.”
“Please let me help. Even just for the day then I’ll give you a lift back here.”
Vera sighed and looked down to Grace’s sleeping face on her chest then looked back up at Joan’s eyes, “Ok, thank you again. Just for today as I don’t want to ruin your plans for the day.”
“Excellent, let go. And by the way, I don’t have anything planned for today so you can stay with me as long as you like.”
Joan helped Vera to carry sleeping Grace to the car while Vera packed everything she have into a rucksack and got in the back of Joan’s car so she can sit beside Grace who is lying on the back seat. Joan droves back home in silence as she didn’t want to wake up Grace.

Vera was absolutely speechless when she entered Joan’s apartment as she had never seen anything so luxury like Joan’s place. “Wow, what a place.”
Joan chuckled quietly and responded, “Make yourself at home. Eat anything you want from the kitchen. Do whatever you fancy to do in this house. Let me know when you want to go for a shower or bath so I can give you towels and clean clothes.”
“Thank you, Joan. I don’t even know what to say.” Joan carried Grace toward her living room and put her down on the sofa then covered her with the blanket and went into the kitchen to prepare the coffee machine. When Joan had just turned around to see where Vera is, what she didn’t expected was that Vera is right next to her and Vera had wrapped her arms around Joan’s waist. Vera starts to cry and mumbled which Joan had just made out – “Thank you so much.” Joan wrapped her long arms around Vera’s back and hold her tightly.
“It’s ok, darling. Stay as long as you would like to. I’ve got 3 spare bedrooms here so take whichever rooms you want to stay in.”
Vera had loosened the grip around Joan so she could lean backward and look up at Joan’s face, “Why are you doing this for?”
“I just want to help you and your young daughter. You both doesn’t deserve to be living on the street. Grace should be living in proper accommodation, not in that tent.”
“I know but it’s better than sleeping on the bench at the park.”
“How long have you been living on the street?”
“About 3 or 4 weeks now. I’ve had nowhere to go when we ran away from my home.”
“Why did you run away?” Vera looked down and was about to step away from Joan as she couldn’t tell her the reason, but Joan stopped Vera from moving away and hold Vera’s cheeks with her hands, “It’s going to be ok. You don’t have to tell me right now. Let just stay here for one night then you can do whatever you want tomorrow.”
Vera nodded and heard Grace is waking up, so she left the kitchen to see Grace in the living room. “Gracie, did you have good nap?”
“Yes Mummy. Who is da?” Grace asked Vera as Joan just stepped in the living room.
“That is Joan. Our Angel.” Vera turned her head around and both women smiled at each other.
“Hi Angel.” Grace spoke quietly, Joan moved closer to both girls and kneeled in front of Grace, “Hello again beautiful girl.”
Grace smiled – showing her full teeth – then jumped off Vera’ lap straight into Joan’s chest and wrapped her tiny arms tightly around Joan’s neck. Joan was surprised to see this reaction from Grace. Vera smiled proudly and said, “She really like you as she never gives anyone hugs, apart from me.”
Joan looked up at Vera with teary eyes, “She’s so precious little girl.”
“Joan, I’m hungry.” Grace whispered in Joan’s ear. Joan stood up and carried Grace in her arms into the kitchen and put her down on top of the counter.
“Right, what would you like to eat? I’ve got everything here.”
“Milk!”
“Here is a milk right coming up!” Joan walked over to the fridge to pick up the milk carton and walked over to the cupboard to take out a plastic cup and straw then filled the cup up about halfway through then walked back to Grace and allowed her to drink the milk through the straw. “Hold on Grace, let me fetch the cookie jar so you could dip the cookies in the milk and eat it.” Grace was watching Joan with strange face until Joan returned with the jar and took out 2 cookies then dipped both into the milk and reached one out to Grace until she took a small bite, “Yummy! More!” Joan fed Grace with 3 more cookies and decided that’s enough for the young child, so she cleaned up and carried Grace back to the living room, but Vera was sleeping soundly on the sofa, so Joan decided to take Grace out with her to buy new clothes for both Grace and Vera. Joan wrote a note and left it on the table in front of Vera with her mobile phone number and told Vera to use her house phone to call the number when she’s awake. Joan realised she don’t have a child seat in her car, so she phoned a taxi which arrived in few minutes and took both to nearby shopping mall centre. Joan and Grace spend over 1 hour – buying new clothes, underwear, and shoes for both girls and Joan bought the car seat as well. Joan was surprised that Vera didn’t call her which mean she’s still sleeping on the sofa. On the way home, Grace fell asleep on Joan’s chest. When the taxi arrived at Joan’s house, Vera ran out of the house with panicked face and opened the door beside Joan, “Joan! Where is Grace?!”
“Shh… She’s sleeping on my chest. Let me out first then you can carry Grace back inside.”
Vera released a deep breath then carried Grace back inside while Joan carried all bags and the box of the car seat. Joan put everything down on the floor in the living room while Vera had just put Grace down on the sofa and stood up to face Joan.
“I did leave a note on the table for you when you wake up. I was at the shopping mall centre to buy all of these for you and Grace.”
“Sorry, I didn’t see the note as I just woke up and heard a car pulling up outside, so I just ran outside.”

Vera noticed how many bags that Joan had just carried inside, “Did you said that these are for me and Grace?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“No, please Joan. You can’t do that. It’s not fair on you.”
“I want to do this. I can’t let you both stay in these clothes any longer. It’ll make me feel good to see smiles on your and Grace’s faces.”
Vera burst out crying and was about to collapse on the floor, but Joan rushed over and held Vera up while wrapping her arms around Vera’s back and held her there in silence until Vera had stopped crying.
“It’s ok. It’s going to be ok. Just relax and enjoy your night here tonight. I’ll let you go back to the tent tomorrow with the new clothes as it belongs to you now.” Joan spoke in gentle tone to comfort Vera.
Vera nodded and hugged Joan around her neck, when she moved back – she gave Joan a kiss on her cheek and thanked her several times. When Vera had stopped thanking Joan, she walked over to see what Joan had bought for both of them. Vera couldn’t believe what Joan had bought as she had never spent that amount on clothes. Joan picked up the bags and told Vera to follow her which she did until they reached at the door of the spare bedroom, “This is the biggest spare room in the house, so I want you to sleep there for as long as you want. It is en-suite so you can have a shower or bath there whenever you want. Let me fetch the towels so I can leave you there in peace.” Joan put the bags on top of the bed and brought the towels from the wardrobe and placed it on top of the bed as well then, she left the room.

Vera sat down on the bed and thought what she deserved to be here in this lovely home and in company of the wonderful woman. She never thought she’ll end up here, even for one night. She thought Jake, her husband, will eventually find them and drag them back home with him then beat Vera up all night for escaping. Before any more bad thoughts fills up in her head, she removed the dirty clothes and stepped in the hot shower.

Vera closed her eyes and sighed relieved.