The lady was about 35 or so, sitting on the floor of the kitchen with Beautiful beside her and another gorgeous Golden Retriever with its head in her lap.
And she had no legs.
“Hi dear. Could you help me get this prickle out of Dukes paw? I just cannot seem to see it and it’s hurting him something awful.”
Carrie stood there in a stupor for a moment taking it all in. She was here because a beautiful dog named Beautiful had found her in the park, deep in some bushes, and then led her here to this woman who seemed to take in all in stride as if it happened every day.
“Dear? Are you ok?” the lady asked.
Carrie blinked once, then again and said “I think so, but this does feel like I’ve dropped into the twilight zone.”
The lady laughed, a warm rich and inviting laugh, and remarked “you don’t look old enough to know about the Twilight Zone, my dear. But I can assure you that you are safe here. Beautiful knows her people and would never let a bad person in our home.” She then turned to Beautiful and said “Go close the front door Beautiful; I believe your new friend is going to help us.”
The dog got up and walked towards the kitchen door, licking Carrie’s hand as she passed.
“Ok then. I guess I’m here to help. Let’s take a look at Dukes paw.” Carrie exclaimed as she slid her pack off her shoulders and laid it up next to the wall by the door. She then knelt down next to the lady and took Duke’s paw into her hands.
“Aw yes, I can see the small prickle -is what you called it?” she said.
“Yes, I believe Duke got himself into a cactus somewhere.”
Carrie was nodding her head and before she could ask, the lady placed some tweezers in her hand.
Two seconds later, Duke was prickle free! And of course, licking Carrie’s face.
The lady laughed along with Carrie as Carrie hugged the dog to her quickly then stood up.
“Do your dogs regularly go out into the world and bring home strangers?” Carrie asked.
“oh I trust Beautiful and Duke implicitly. Like I said, they have never brought home a bad person.”
“Alrighty then, unless you need more help, I guess I’ll be on my way. I’ve a long way to go today and I really need to get moving .“ Looking around, Carrie noticed the wheel chair about five feet away by the refrigerator. “Do you need any help getting back into your chair?” she asked.
The lady smiled and said “no thank you, but I would love a cup of hot tea. Would you join me before you go?”
“Sure, I guess” said Carrie as she watched the lady expertly walk on her hands and climb up into her wheelchair and then roll herself to the stove, check the tea kettle, where she lifted it up and swirled it slightly. Deciding that there was enough water in it, she sat it back down and turned on the burner.
“My name is Jane, by the way and I want to thank you for helping me.”
Hmmm, Lady Jane, Carrie thought it fits her perfectly. And Carrie noticed that she did have some of her legs, they just went down to her knees. I wonder how that happened. And she hasn’t even asked my name, where Beautiful found me or where I’m going or doing. Weird.
“I bet you have a lot of questions. Let me assure you that there is nothing hinkie going on. While my dogs are not psychic, they are very smart and well trained.
And of course, they are well behaved.” Jane said as she then began to rub both dogs with one hand each, under the chin and behind the ears. “Yes you are my babies, you sure are good babies.” She gushed over them.
Carrie looked around again and finally figured out what was bugging her.
Everything in the kitchen, the counters, sink, stove, and even the refrigerator was all small sized. They were all short, just as if they were made for a little person….or someone in a wheel chair. There were also no upper cupboards; they were all below the counter. Instead there were walls of windows, which let in the morning light. Carrie could see bird feeders hanging outside the windows from the eaves. There must have been twenty or so.
Jane looked over at Carrie and saw the realization on her face, “Pretty cool, huh? I had my whole house redone when I lost my legs five years ago. I also have a very nice lady who comes twice a week and helps me clean the house. She is the one who fills the feeders for me. Her husband comes once a week and takes care of the yard. Sadly, there are still some things I cannot do myself”
Carrie turned red, gestured with a sweep of her arm and replied “yeah, but all this must make things a lot easier and it’s a smart thing to do. “
“Have a seat at the table honey, and I’ll get this tea fixed right up. I think I even have a couple of cookies left. Do you like Chocolate chip with pecans? They're homemade.”
“You really don’t have to go to any trouble. Really I should be going.” Carrie looked at her watch and realized that it was only 8 am. It felt like she had been here for an hour at least. But she walked over and sat down in the only chair at the table. “I’ll stay twenty minutes but then I really need to get going. And yes, the cookies sound fine. Can I help with anything?” Carrie was torn from the need to leave and get moving and the thought of insulting the Lady Jane.
Jane smiled “oh no, I’m a real pro with this” as she washed her hands at the sink and then gathered two cups and a plate from the cupboard. In no time at all, there was a hot cup of tea that smelled wonderful in front of both of them and a plate of four cookies between them.
“Help yourself dear.” Jan said “or I’ll eat them all.” She smiled at Carrie.
Taking a cookie and sipping her tea, Carrie found herself finally relaxing a bit.
She still was cautious. One didn’t survive the past five years with her mother and not always be cautious, but she really didn’t think she was in any danger right now. Her stomach growling interrupts her thoughts and she was embarrassed again but Jane started laughing and said “I guess you didn’t get any breakfast this morning. Let me see if I can find you something more substantial for your breakfast.”
“Oh no, please don’t go to any trouble. I’ll catch something once I’m back on the road.”
“Nonsense, I can’t let you leave here hungry after you got that prickle out of Dukes paw. “ Jane looked over at her dogs “Can I now my precious babies?”
Carrie watched both dogs shake their heads. “How did you teach them that?” she asked.
“Teach them? Oh heavens no. I didn’t teach them that all, they are just that smart.” Replied Jane with a wide grin on her face.
Carrie looked at the dogs again and she would swear that they both had even wider grins on their faces. She couldn’t help but giggle.
Before Carrie was done with her two cookies and cup of tea, Jane had a cheese omelet with delicious chunks of ham steaming in front of her and a large glass of milk. Carries stomach reacted loudly at the tantalizing smell.
“Eat up! It won’t take you but a few minutes and while you’re eating I’m going to
fix you a good lunch to eat as you go.”
Between bites of the wonderful food, Carrie asked Lady Jane “why are you being so nice and why haven’t you even asked my name or where I’m going?”
Jane looked at Carrie with shock on her face “Why dear, it’s none of my business where you are going and I figured if you want me to know your name, you’ll tell me. And I’m being nice, because YOU were very nice to take time and come here with Beautiful. Most people would have just called the number on her tag. But you came with her and helped poor Duke out also. If it makes you feel better, just think of me repaying your kindness.”
I don’t believe this lady, I’ve never heard of anyone like this……oh but can she cook! This is the best food I’ve ever eaten!
Carrie’s thoughts were jumbled as she inhaled her omelet. Out loud she said “This is really great. Thank you very much.” And she finished up as Jane set a heavy looking paper bag next to her on the table.
“Do you think this will fit in your bag? Or should I find something with handles so you can carry it easier?”
Carrie stared at the bag then at Jane “This is really too much. I appreciate the breakfast but I can’t take this.”
“Nonsense! You’ll be doing me a favor. I needed to clean out the refrigerator anyways. So see, you’ll be helping me out. It’s a win win!” Jane said as she smiled warmly at Carrie.
Carrie could see she wasn’t going to win and it would help her out for a day or so. She finished the last bite of her food and drank the last swallow of her milk and then carried her dishes to the sink.
“You just leave them in the sink dear, I’ll take care of them later. I know you are anxious to get moving.”
Carrie was feeling so strange. No one had been this nice to her since her dad had died and she wasn’t sure if she was dreaming or if this was real. She patted her tummy, yep that tummy hadn’t been really full in years. It felt good.
Jane didn’t miss the pat and she couldn’t help but worry about this slip of a girl who didn’t look like she had eaten in a month of Sundays.
“You go ahead and pack this into your bag and the dogs and I will walk with you out to the front porch.”
Carrie cocked an eyebrow and Jane laughed “Ok, I’ll roll and the dogs will walk with you.” I’m glad to see that this girls spirit is not broken, Jane thought, there is hope yet.
“Will you do me one more favor before you go?” Jane asked Carrie.
“Sure, what can I do for you?”
“Well, I want you take my phone number with you. And if you ever need anything, even if you just want to talk. Please call me collect. Can you do that for me?”
She saw that Carrie was going to protest so she quickly added “it would be really for me of course, I’m being selfish but I don’t get to talk to many people these days and I hate to admit it…” she dropped her voice to a whisper “but sometimes I like to hear a human voice….even though I love my dogs, it’s just really not the same.” Then she put on such a hopeful face that Carrie laughed and agreed to take her number and she even promised she would call her once a week.
The bag of food just fit into Carrie’s back pack with some rearranging and they all walked, and rolled, out to the living room and out the front door to the porch.
Carrie turned to Jane to express her thanks once again “Lady Jane, thank you for being so nice to me and I will call once a week, but if I’m not by a phone, please don’t worry, I’ll call as soon as I can.” She bent down and gave both dogs good face rubs and lots of nonsense words. Then she stepped down the stairs and began to walk to the driveway.
She stopped halfway down the drive and turned towards Jane and the dogs “Lady Jane,” she called out “My name is Carrie.”
Jane smiled and said “Well Miss Carrie, it was a real pleasure to meet you. I’ll be keeping you in my prayers and looking forward to your calls.”
Carrie smiled and continued on her journey.
Jane smiled and then looked at her dogs “That is some girl there my dears, anyone can tell she has had a hard life. Why the poor thing probably doesn’t weigh enough to keep from blowing away. Beautiful you were so right to bring her home. I think she needed some loving kindness to keep hope alive for her.”
Carrie was long out of sight and heard nothing of the exchange between Lady Jane and her dear dogs.