Alicia stood at the sink washing out the pans she had cooked the eggs and bacon in. She was glad they had used disposable cups, plates, and forks. Eli and his friends were already here and the bedroom items had been loaded onto the truck. She kept the kids busy in the kitchen with her coloring, and reading. These were simple things they could do to keep their minds stimulated, and prevent them from becoming too bored. She knew it would only last so long and they would begin complaining that they had nothing to do. So she enjoyed it while she could.
The day rushed by in a flurry of activity as they drove back and forth to the storage unit dropping off bags and boxes that didn’t need to be transported by truck. The kids had been quiet all day and Alicia was starting to worry about them.
Driving through the snow plowed streets of Pristine, she came up with a wonderful idea to give them the balance she knew they needed. Alicia had practically raised the children in the library and they had enjoyed every moment.
“Hey guys, do you want to go to the library?”
“But mom, the library’s closed,” CJ disputed.
“Since when has that stopped us?” she asked with a giggle, looking at her little boy’s reflection in the rear view mirror.
CJ smiled back at her before replying, “Never!”
“That’s right. You two can use the computers while we’re there. I have a few things to catch up on while we’re closed.” She looked at her daughter sitting beside her. Chelsea was staring out the window, looking bored. “Honey, you can use the computer in my office and chat with Lydia.” Alicia knew her daughter would love to talk to her old friend Lydia in Virginia.
“Okay, mommy,” Chelsea said, perking up only slightly.
Alicia pulled the car into the library’s parking lot, surprised to see five other cars already parked there. She recognized the cars of Mayor Albert Pickens, Susan the library director, and Amber, the owner of the Five and Dime Café. There were two other cars that she did not recognize.
“Honey, I need you to be on your best behavior, okay?” she reminded, CJ looking at him in the rearview mirror once again.
“Yes ma’am,” CJ replied, getting out of the car ahead of his mother and sister. He ran up the steps to the library door. He began hopping around restlessly waiting for Alicia to climb the stairs and unlock the door.
“CJ, no running in here, just because we’re closed doesn’t mean the rules don’t apply,” Alicia warned, one last time after she and Chelsea had climbed the stairs. Unlocking the door she continued to wonder why the Mayor and Amber were there. And who did the other two cars belong to? It wasn’t a surprise to see Susan there, she usually came in when the library was closed along with Alicia. She didn’t need any more bad news and the mayor’s presence there didn’t look too good. Were they closing the library? Alicia didn’t know, but she would soon find out.
After getting the children settled, Alicia hung up her coat in her office and removed her gloves and hat. She went in search of Susan to find out what was going on.
“Time is running out, I just want to make sure everything will be handled by then,” Susan stated, head cocked to the side, and one finger pointing at a red-faced gentleman, sitting at the other end of the table.
Alicia was only 5’2, but despite her petite frame, she had never been intimidated by her boss. But peering through the conference room door and seeing Susan rise to her full 5’11 stature, hands on her hips, she had second thoughts about that assessment. This was a side of Susan she had not seen before; she appeared to be irate. Light brown eyes framed by long lashes sat in cocoa colored skin. Her cheekbones set high in her face accentuated by the natural Afro she wore, usually gave her the look of a super model. But at the moment, her eyes seemed to be shooting sparks, and she looked more like Neema, the African warrior princess.
The red-faced man removed his cowboy hat from his head and began to speak. “Ms. Dwyer,” he said, addressing Susan, holding his hat to his chest, “my crew has been—”
“Look, Mr. Rafferty…tomorrow is Christmas! Christmas…do you know what this means?”
“Uh, er…yes ma’am, I reckon I do, and—”
“Then you understand what I expect,” she snapped, with a roll of her head.
“Mr. Rafferty, please understand that time is of the essence. When we contracted your firm to do this work, we explained everything that we needed. You assured us there would be no problem. Ms. Dwyer sat out the deadlines in clear terms and you accepted those terms in the contract. I think you can appreciate Ms. Dwyer’s concern at this time, right?” asked Mayor Pickens.
Alicia knocked at the door, not wanting to continue eavesdropping. Her heart had fallen to the pit of her stomach. They were putting a rush on things, and she didn’t know what to do. If the library were in fact closing, that would leave her family out on the street.
All heads turned at the knock on the door. Susan’s deep set eyes squinted tightly as she looked towards the door. Just as quickly as they squinted closed, they popped back open when she saw Alicia.
Susan quickly made her way to the door, holding a hand up to place her meeting on hold.
“Hi, Alicia. What are you doing here? I thought you were moving today.” Susan stated in a calm voice, as she ushered Alicia away from the room and closed the door behind her.
“Well, I am. But I just needed to do something to get the children out of the men’s way and keep them occupied. Today’s moving day and uh…well it’s a bit hard on all of us,” Alicia explained.
Susan took Alicia by the arm and turned her in the opposite direction. “I know it is. But being at work is no place for you either. You should be spending time with your children.”
“I know but…there’s nowhere for us to go, or nothing to do at this time. So anyway, I thought I would come in and catch up on some work, while the kids played on the computer.”
“Oh…okay. Well that’s fine I guess. But I don’t want you to feel compelled to be here when you don’t have to be.”
They had arrived back at the offices of the library and Susan was turning around to leave again, when Alicia recalled why she was looking for her in the first place.
“Susan wait…” she called out after her boss’ retreating back.
“Yes,” Susan said, turning back to Alicia.
“Is everything okay? I mean with the library and all?” Alicia asked.
Susan took a deep breath in, looked at the floor, and then back at Alicia. She gave a short smile, nodded her head, and said, “Yes, Alicia. All is well. Go and take care of those kids will you?” She walked away and left Alicia wondering
Alicia’s heart thundered in her chest. She knew from Susan’s evasive answer that everything was not okay. She did not know what was coming, she could only guess. But she knew she needed to take steps to prepare and protect her family at all costs.
Will Alicia lose her job, or is she overreacting? Come back tomorrow for more.
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