Ivy eyes the plate of food in front of Mr. White. She shakes her hunger off and begins to answer his question, “I left home two years ago when I was 16, my home life was a bad situation. I couch-surfed with my friends, paying them a little from my job as a diner. I almost saved enough to get my own place. My boss, unfortunately, had certain expectations that I could not fulfill,” Ivy looks down reminiscing, “so I left there, and he told my girlfriends that if I stayed at their house, he’d fire them!” That was a year ago.
Chad looks at Ivy sympathetically, “and where have you been staying for the last year?” He slides his plate of food her way. Ivy warmly smiles, “thank you,” she shovels the food in her mouth. One, two, three shovels of food in her mouth. She feels Mr. White staring at her, and realizes how unladylike she looks. She swallows quickly and composes herself.
“I should tell you that I am no freeloader. If your wife lets me stay here, I will clean, I can cook, I know how to speak three languages, so I can teach if you have a need for that.”
Chad nods and smiles, “what do you want?”
“In my dreams?”
“Realistically I think I can get my own place, if I can stay somewhere for a few weeks. You need a physical address to get most jobs, and it will be easier to keep clean too.”
Chad is disappointed in her modest dreams, “that’s your goal?”
Ivy shakes her head no, “I want to go to the community college, it’s affordable to earn a teaching degree for language, I could teach immigrants or anyone who wants to learn a language.”
Chad smiles warmly, “Do you want some water, how about a soda?”
“No thank you, this is so wonderful.” She takes a bite, and wonders about Mr. White, and his wife’s women’s shelter. “Can you tell me about yourself?”
“Well I’m the county commissioner. My father, and his father were the commissioner before me. I also work with the Sheriff and the leaders in our religious community in keeping our city safe.”
Ivy is impressed, “wow. And your wife?”
Like I said, my wife won’t be home for a while.
Ivy wonders if she’s overstepped her welcome already. She stands up, not sure what she will say to change the subject, her eyes jet to the fireplace, “ooh a fireplace!” It’s just like the wood burning fireplace at her old home. Chad asks if she’d like to warm herself, and before she can answer, she is en route. She sees Chad staring at her, time to say something, a nice compliment perhaps? “Does your wife decorate?”
“No, actually I do.”
Ivy listens, smiles and sits in the nearby chair.
“STAND UP!” Mr. White’s voice bellows deep, it’s scary, alarming. Ivy starts top tear up, she’s sorry, confused, she knows she blew it. “I’m so sorry.. I– I–”
Chad dusts off the chair, “Do you know if you bring a stray dog in you have to check for fleas? It’s the same with women.”
Chad, “lice, mites, humans can even carry some strains of mange.”
Ivy looks down in shame wondering if she carries any bugs. Her skin has been wet, dirty, it itches sometimes.. is it possible?
“Come with me in the bathroom. The girls usually check for me, but like I said, they’re not home.”
Chad, “Will you take off your clothes?”
Ivy, “yes, of course I will. I am just a little shy.”