“Did you hear the news today, Dear?” Albert asked his wife as he sat down to their Sunday brunch of goldenrod eggs.
“Fae Paddy? Aye, sure Eh did. He stopped by here whilst you were at the pub.”
“Did he now?”
“An auld bampot he is. Blethering away. Cannae wait ta share bad news. He stood on the step, grinnin’ like an arse, and jumpin’ round foot ta foot like a wee boy needin’ ta pee.”
“Um,” Albert nodded his head and smiled. “So, what you reckon?”
“Eh cannae believe it. Barbara homeless? Whit’s the world comin’ ta? She was such a star. So beautiful. She traveled all the world, ya know. Ta be livin’ on the street, right here in Glenrothes, Eh just cannae imagine.”
“Eh remember when she lived here wi us. Those were barrie days. Lucy and Rita played wi her everyday.”
“And in the summer, remember, Ally, they’d play at the pool. Barb went ah’whar wi oor lassies.”
“’Til that day . .”
“Dinnae talk aboot it. Still geez me the shivers. Ta think that she lost her hand oot of oor bein’ tentless. Just one moment we leave her alone oot back and the next her wee hand’s gone, chewed aff to her wrist.”
“Aye, the girls were beside themselves, but Barb, she shed narry a tear.”
“She must’ve ‘ad one hell of a surgeon ta make that new hand she has. And ta think, it seems no one else knows aboot it.”
“But we do, Maggie. We do. And now we know she’s but a bin howker in our own wee town.”
“She’ll be fine, Ally. Eh’m sure she won’t be alone long. Paddy sayin’ she still has her looks. And she’s what? Fifty-seven now? Same as oor Rita.”
“She could beid here in Lucy’s auld room. Just until she’s back on her feet. Eh feel like God wants us ta take her in. That Paddy saw her today is no accident.”
“Eh suppose we could go doon the street, have a look fir her.”
“Let’s do it. Let’s do it, Maggie. She needs us. We owe ta her.”
Albert was the first to spot her on Queensway.
“Do you remember us, Dear?” he asked.
“Oor lassies, Rita and Lucy played wi you,” Maggie added.
“Of course. I remember.” Barb raised her tattered wool gloves to her face in surprise. Her manicured nails perfectly polished. She reached out to hug Maggie and Albert.
“I had so much fun with your girls.”
“Eh am so sorry, Barb, aboot Bootsie. Eh am so . .”
“Oh. I loved Bootsie, too. We used to dress her up in baby doll clothes and give her rides in the stroller. See, my hand is fine. I had such a lovely time with your girls. We used to dress alike at Christmas, do you remember? And the beautiful ball gowns your neighbor made for me. I felt like a princess at your home. I really did. There were so many families I lived with, I felt . . .boxed in.”
“It’s so cold, Dear,” Maggie said, looking at the tall woman in layers of worn sweaters, leggings and old army boots. “We thought you might like ta beid wi us fir a wee while. Just until you’re back on your feet. You’re still such a bonnie lass. You’ve scarcely aged.”
“Actually, I gained a little weight. You’re so sweet to offer. But I’m fine, really. You see I’m getting back together with my old boyfriend. He’s on his way — why, here he is now!” She ran toward the street where a blue hot rod was pulling up. A tall, good-looking, brown-haired man got out from the driver’s side and waved.