When the girls rang the doorbell, they heard Mrs. Henry shout, “Go Away.”
“Mrs. Henry,” Amber yelled through the door. “It’s Laura and Amber. We came to see if you need any help.”
“Come on in,” She yelled back. As the girls opened the door, they heard her say, “Might as well. You already woke me up.” The wrinkled condition of Mrs. Henry’s house dress told Amber and Laura that she really had been sleeping. Her thin white hair was piled up on her head so that it looked like a giant spider had woven its web there.
“How are you feeling?” Laura asked, trying not to react to her appearance.
“I have a broken hip. How do you think I feel?”
“We were very sorry to hear about your accident.” Amber hoped she sounded sincere. “How did it happen?”
“It’s a long story,” Mrs. Henry sighed. Amber and Laura were sure it would be.
“I was late for my Bridge game and I had my arms full of old clothes I was taking to the thrift store. The gravel in my driveway was loose. I wish I had a cement driveway, but Mr. Henry said we couldn’t afford cement so we had to have gravel. Anyway, the gravel was loose and my feet started slipping. I tried to grab a hold of my car door, but I kept slipping. The next thing I knew, I was down on the gravel. I probably would have lain there until I died, but Doris Duncan came by to check on me when I didn’t show up at the Bridge game. At least I have one person who cares a little about what happens to me. She called for an ambulance and they took me to the hospital. The doctor ordered an x-ray and said I have a broken hip. The next day, I had surgery. They put me in rehab for three weeks, and now I’m supposed to take care of myself. I can get around some in my wheelchair, but no one cares if I starve to death.”
“We care, “Laura assured her. “What can we do for you?”
“You can go to the store and buy me some things that I can cook myself from the wheelchair.”
“We’d be happy to do that,” Amber managed a smile. “Do you have a list?”
“I just need eggs, bread, milk and coffee. Can’t you remember that without a list?”
“Of course we can,” Laura smiled. “We’ll go to the store right now and be back before you know it.”
“Sure you will,” Mrs. Henry sounded doubtful. “Here’s some money. Don’t lose it.”
Laura and Amber jumped on their bikes and raced down the street toward the market. Laura had tucked Mrs. Henry’s money safely in her pocket. After they located all of the items in the store, they went to the checkout counter where Margaret, the clerk, rang up their purchases.
Amber put the milk and bread in the basket of her bike. Laura took the eggs and coffee. They rode back as fast as they could, knowing that Mrs. Henry would be annoyed if they took too long. Just as they were turning the corner onto Hope Street, a large yellow dog ran out in front of them. Amber managed to miss the dog, but when Laura tried to swerve around him, she lost control of her bike. With a loud crash, she landed on the pavement, the back wheel of her bike still spinning around. Amber ran to help her up. That’s when she saw the raw egg spilled on the pavement.
“Are there any unbroken ones?” Laura asked as Amber opened the carton.
“Only two,” Amber said. “Are you all right?”
“I’ll be fine,” Laura sighed, “But what are we going to do about the eggs?”
Just then Amber realized they were on Betty Jenkins’ street. Amber and Laura knocked forcefully on Betty’s door.
“What’s wrong?” Betty asked when she saw the panic on their faces.
“We were shopping for Mrs. Henry, and we broke the eggs,” Laura explained.
“It wasn’t our fault,” Amber added. “A dog ran out in front of us.”
“Don’t worry,” Betty said, calmly. “It was just an accident. We’ll think of something. Let me see if I have a dozen eggs in my refrigerator.”
“We just need ten,” Laura said. “Two of them didn’t break.”
“I’ve only got six,” Betty told them after checking her refrigerator. “Let’s go across the street to Doris’s house and see if she can spare four eggs.”
“What took you so long? Did you have to milk a cow?” Mrs. Henry fumed as the girls came through the door with her groceries.
After they had put away Mrs. Henry’s groceries, Laura asked if there was anything else they could do for her.
“Not today,” she said, “but come back on Wednesday. I’m going to need you then.”
“You’re welcome,” Amber said when they got outside.
“You didn’t expect her to thank us, did you?” Laura asked.
“Of course not.” Amber laughed “Those words aren’t in her vocabulary.”
From The Handy Helpers: Seven is a Perfect Number, available from Amazon