Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Denver Cereal - Chapter Two Hundred and Thirty-One : Tea


Tuesday afternoon – 4:35 p.m.

“I wanted to check if you had anything else that needed to be done?” Ivy asked.

Standing near the bottom of the basement stairwell, Ivy’s arms were full of Noelle’s old clothing.

“What do you mean?” Delphie asked.

“She wants to know how to pay for everything,” Honey said.

“Oh,” Delphie smiled. “You helped clean out the room.”

“That was fun,” Ivy said.

“Fun or not,” Delphie said. “You helped us move one step closer to figuring out what’s in this house. Now we have some things to give away, some items to return, and … “

“We’ve finished one more room!” Valerie said. “Whoo hoo!”

Valerie put her arm around Delphie’s shoulders and they went up the basement stairs.

“Can I help you up the stairs?” Ivy asked Honey.

“I can take the lift,” Honey said.

She slid from her basement wheel chair to the chair lift. Remembering what it was like for her when she moved to the Castle, Honey turned back to the girl.

“Why don’t you come up and help me fold Maggie’s clothes?” Honey asked. “The kids will be home from martial arts soon. They go running with Jacob about five. Did you get some workout clothes?”

Ivy shook her head.

“I bet they won’t go running today since you’re here,” Honey said. “But don’t quote me.”

Ivy walked beside Honey up the stairwell. Honey plopped of the stairwell lift and into her upstairs wheelchair. When she turned around, she saw how full Ivy’s arms were.

“First, let’s get you something to hold all of those clothes in,” Honey said.

“I’m okay,” Ivy said.

Honey smiled and wheeled to the closet where they stored luggage. She rolled out a suitcase.

“I don’t know where I’m going, Miss Honey,” Ivy said. “I don’t think I’m going to stay at Mrs. Heather’s house. They’re going to look to see if I have any family and …”

“That’s all right,” Honey said. “We can always get another.”

Honey set the suitcase on the couch and unzipped it.

“I lived in the motels on Colfax when I was a kid,” Honey said. She patted the couch. “It was weird when we moved. I was … mmm eight or nine I guess when my mom got a good job.”

“I never lived in the motels,” Ivy set the clothing down on the couch cushion. Honey picked up a shirt and folded it. “I lived with my grandmother until a couple years ago.”

“What happened to your grandmother?” Honey asked. She set the shirt into the suitcase and picked up another. Ivy copied Honey’s actions.

“She died,” Ivy said.

Honey glanced at Ivy with surprise.

“What?” Ivy asked.

“Didn’t they take you into social services? Try to find your family?” Honey asked.

“Sure,” Ivy said. “But the place was weird and … Everyone was a lot happier if they got the money from the state, you know for fostering me, but they didn’t like me there so much.”

“Wow,” Honey said.

“Plus, I wanted to find my …”

Ivy stopped talking and focused on the clothing. In the silence, they made quick work of folding her clothing and putting it in the suitcase.

“You know, I bet you could wear some of my clothes,” Honey said.

“Do you have normal clothes?” Ivy asked. Her hand went to her mouth. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything bad. I …”

“Most people in wheelchairs wear regular clothing,” Honey said. “At least I do. Come on, let’s look and see what I have.”

Honey picked up the suitcase and wheeled to her apartment.

“Be very quiet,” Honey said. “MJ and Maggie are sleeping in her room.”

Honey gestured to the baby monitor hooked onto her chair. Ivy heard MJ snore and gave Honey a bright nod. Honey opened the door to the apartment and wheeled up the ramp to her wheel-in closet.

“You can really have anything. Most of this stuff doesn’t fit me now that I had Maggie,” Honey said. “If I were you, I’d get some of the nice stuff. You don’t have anything to wear to dinner or whatever.”

“Do you think I’ll need it?” Ivy asked.

“If you stay around here, there’s always something,” Honey said. “We’re virtually going to Valerie’s premiere next week.”

“Virtually?” Ivy asked.

“By the computer,” Honey said. “It’s something the movie producers set up so that family can go. We’re getting dressed up. MJ’s wearing his dress uniform. It’ll be Jackie’s first outing.”

Ivy nodded. Honey took a dress out of the closet and held it up to Ivy.

“You were saying something about finding someone?” Honey tried to ask the question in the most nonthreatening way possible. “Oh here’s a nice one.”

Honey pulled out a pair of black silk pants and a silk top covered in pink roses. Ivy took the hanger from Honey.

“Jill got this for me for our honeymoon. We didn’t end up going,” Honey said.

“How come?” Ivy asked.

“I got sick,” Honey said. “Try it on.”

Ivy pulled off her top and Honey went back to looking at clothes.

“My mom had an older sister, like twenty years older,” Ivy said. “She told my dad all about her. My dad promised he would find her for my mom so my mom would have some family, besides us, I mean. Then Mom died. We moved here so my dad could keep his promise but then he had to go to Iraq. Grannie moved to take care of me while Dad was gone and then … She got kinda stuck with me.”

While Honey pretended to be absorbed in her clothing hunt, Ivy buttoned the silk blouse.

“Grannie and I,” Ivy’s voice clouded with sorrow. “We used to have the most fun looking for my mom’s sister. Grannie would do all this research during the week, online and stuff. On the weekends, we’d go on these grand adventures. We went to Leadville. We’ve been to almost every graveyard in Colorado looking for my mom’s sister. Grannie thought it was a great mystery. That’s what she would say, ‘This is a mystery for the record books.’ She was a lot of fun.”

“You must miss her a lot,” Honey said.

“I do,” Ivy said. “I really do.”

“Did you ever find her?” Honey asked.

“My mom’s sister?” Ivy asked. “No. I don’t really think she existed. I think it was just a fun game my Grannie would play with me.”

Ivy pressed herself into the clothing so that Honey wouldn’t see her cry. Honey gave the girl her space.

“Let’s see,” Honey said. “I have a few running shoes. I bet we’re about the same size. Do you want to try them so you can go running?”

Ivy wiped her face and nodded.

“Let’s get you dressed in some of my workout clothes,” Honey said. “I have a lot. You can go with them if they decide to run.”

“I’d like that,” Ivy grinned. “I’m pretty good at running from the police.”

Honey chuckled. She took some workout clothing from her closet and gave it to Ivy.

“It’s just a lot,” Ivy said. “Are you sure you want me to have it?”

“Most of this stuff I bought with my own money from work,” Honey said. “If you want, you can always babysit to make up for it or whatever.”

Ivy brightened at the idea of having a way to pay back. She sat down to put on the shoes. They were a little big. Honey took a look and agreed that they were okay for now. Plus, she would probably grow into them.

“You remember Delphie?” Honey asked.

“The lady with the red hair?” Ivy asked. “She’s nice.”

“Right,” Honey gave Ivy a workout top. “You probably won’t believe it but she’s a true psychic.”

“Really?” Ivy asked.

“I bet if we ask her, she’ll know where you’re mom’s sister is,” Honey said.

“Do you think so?” Ivy’s smiled covered almost all of her face. “Can we do it now?”

“I don’t see why not,” Honey said.

Ivy walked out of the closet with only a top and the shoes on.

“You have to get dressed,” Honey called after her.

“Shhh,” Ivy said. “The baby’s sleeping.”

Honey smiled at the girl. Ivy grinned and put on some exercise tights.

“Let’s go find Delphie,” Honey said.

Honey wheeled out of the apartment and into the Castle. She followed Delphie’s laugh to the kitchen where Delphie and Valerie were drinking tea.

“Honey! Ivy!” Delphie said. “Would you like some tea?”

Delphie got up from the table to turn on the electric kettle.

“Is that your baby?” Ivy asked.

“This is Jacquotte,” Valerie said.

“Jacquotte?” Ivy asked. “That’s a big name. I wouldn’t know how to spell it.”

“We call her Jackie,” Valerie said. “Would you like to hold her?”

Ivy nodded. Valerie pulled out a chair. Ivy sat down and Valerie passed the baby to her.

“Do we have more of those cookies you made?” Delphie asked Honey.

“I’ll get them,” Honey wheeled to the pantry. “Delphie, Ivy’s looking for her mother’s sister. She and her Grannie weren’t ever able to find her.”

“She used to say it was a mystery for the record books,” Ivy said.

“I like mysteries. I help my friend Seth with his detective mysteries,” Delphie said. “I don’t have any mixed mint tea, Ivy, just peppermint. I do have chamomile. Does that sound good?”

Ivy nodded. She watched Jackie sleep for a few minutes before she realized that Delphie knew what kind of tea she liked. Ivy’s heart shot full of hope. She looked up at Delphie and Delphie smiled at the girl.

“I don’t see any souls around you, so that probably means your mother’s sister is probably alive,” Delphie said. “Tell me about her.”

“I only know what my mom told my dad and what my dad told my Grannie,” Ivy said.

Honey came out of the cabinet with a Tupperware full of cookies.

“That took a while,” Delphie said.

“I try to hide them from the young men in the house,” Honey said.

“Locusts,” Valerie laughed. “Ivy was telling us about her mother’s sister.”

Honey wheeled to the table and set the cookies on top.

“Oh right,” Ivy said. “Well, my mom had a bunch of brothers and sisters but she was the youngest. Most of her brothers and sisters died from getting sick or hurting themselves or whatever. They were real poor and didn’t have insurance and stuff. I guess they worked on farms or whatever work they could get.”

“How do you know your mom had a sister?” Delphie asked. “Or that she’s here? You know, Honey, those boys are going to blow through here in about five minutes.”

“I know,” Honey said.

“At least we get some first,” Valerie reached for a cookie. “Ivy?”

“Oh, I don’t know for sure,” Ivy said. “My mom’s dad died. A tractor fell over on him or something gross. My mom and her mom moved here to Denver. I know that because my Grannie found the place they lived together. We talked to the owner on one of our adventures.”

“If we can’t figure this out here, we can always go to the apartment and see if I can get something there,” Delphie nodded.

“Good thinking,” Honey said.

“It’s kind of bad, because my mom’s father sold her sister,” Ivy said. “But it’s kind of good because if he hadn’t, she probably wouldn’t have survived.”

The electric kettle clicked and Delphie turned around to get two more mugs from the cabinet.

“Do you know your mom’s sister’s name?” Valerie asked. “Maybe Delphie can call in the name.”

“Chastity Bell,” Ivy said.

Delphie dropped a mug.

“Anyone here?” Nash yelled from the front room. Charlie said something to Nash and Noelle laughed.

“What did you say?” Delphie scurried to clean up the broken mug.

“My mom’s last name was Bell,” Ivy said. “I mean before she married my dad. Her sister was called Chastity or we thought it was.”

“There you are!” Noelle said. “Hey they’re back here.”

Noelle grabbed a cookie and looked at everyone.

“How come you guys are all weird?” Noelle asked.

“Did I wreck everything?” Ivy asked. “I’m really sorry.”

With his arm draped over Tink’s shoulder, Charlie came in. He glanced at Delphie and moved away from Tink.

“What’s going on?” Charlie asked.

“I wrecked everything again,” Ivy gave Jackie to Valerie and ran out of the room. Tink and Noelle ran after her.

“She’s a little girl who has no one in this world,” Charlie said to Delphie. “You need to fix this.”

“Charlie!” Noelle said.

“No, he’s right,” Delphie said.

Delphie walked out of the kitchen.

“Hi Ivy,” Jacob voice came from the front room. “Nash. Tink. What’s going on?”

“She’s running away from me,” Delphie said.

“Are you eating little girls again?” Jacob laughed. He put his hands on Ivy’s shoulders. The little girl looked up at him. “Sometimes, people can’t give us what we need at the exact moment we need it. That’s all that happened. You surprised her.”

“She broke a cup,” Ivy said.

“We have lots of cups,” Jacob said. “It’s your heart that matters to Delphie and to all of us.”

He stepped to the side to let Tink hug the little girl.

“Ivy?” Delphie asked.

The girls turned to look at her. Delphie glanced at Jacob and he nodded to her.

“My name was Chastity Bell,” Delphie said.

Tink gasped and stepped away from Ivy.

“You’re her mom’s sister?” Charlie asked.

“I don’t know,” Delphie said. “I could be. I left home when I was a little kid. I was the oldest so I don’t really know what happened to them after I left.”

“She looks like you,” Nash said.

“I do?” Ivy asked.

“I’m quite a bit older than you,” Delphie said.

“She does look like you,” Tink said. “I didn’t notice it until Nash said something.”

“We all noticed it downstairs,” Nash said.

“Come on, Ivy,” Delphie said. “Whether I’m your mom’s long lost sister or not, you’re welcome here. Why don’t we sit down, have some tea, and get to know each other? Would you like that?”

Ivy nodded.

“I would too,” Delphie glanced at Jacob. He smiled at her.

Delphie put her arm around Ivy’s shoulder and led her back to the kitchen.

“Who’s going running today?” Jacob asked.

He started pushing the other kids out of the kitchen.

“Charlie?” Jacob asked.

“I can only go within one square block,” Charlie said.

“Good to know,” Jacob said. “Let’s go!”

Honey’s baby monitor gave a wail as Maggie woke up from her nap.

“Have fun!” Honey waved and wheeled back to her apartment.

“I’m going to change Jackie.” Valerie pointed upstairs and Jacob nodded.

He managed to round up the rest of the children and they left.

“It’s so quiet,” Ivy said.

“They’re giving us time to talk,” Delphie said. “Please sit.”

Delphie sat down at the kitchen table. Katy came running down the stairs from the apartment. She pulled out the chair Valerie had been sitting in and sat down.

“Katy?” Dephie asked.

“I wanted to meet your niece,” Katy said.

“Is that all right with you?” Delphie asked.

“Sure,” Ivy smiled at Katy.

Katy took a drink of Valerie’s tea. Too uncomfortable to start, Ivy stared at her tea. Delphie was unusually quiet.

“So, where did you grow up, Ivy?” Katy asked.

Ivy chuckled and Delphie laughed. Katy smirked.

“Katherine Roper Marlowe!” Jill yelled from the upstairs apartment. “Your bath is ready and you’re not here!”

“Have to go,” Katy said. She ran up the stairs.

“She’s really …”

“She is,” Delphie laughed.

“Are you all psychics?” Ivy asked.

“Me, Jacob, Katy,” Delphie said. “Everyone in the house has a special capacity. We’re drawn to each other.”

“Do you think I do?” Ivy asked.

“I don’t know,” Delphie said. “We’ll have to see.”

Ivy nodded and drank her tea.

“So where did you grow up?” Delphie asked.

Ivy smiled and answered the question

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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