Alice received a call early one Monday morning.
“Are you free today?” a female voice said immediately she picked.
“Who is this?” Alice was curious.
“Marvis. I’ve got a proposal for you. Are you free?”
“Yes.” Alice said.
“I’ll send my address so you can come over. We will talk during lunch.”
The house was cosy. It was beautiful and Alice could tell that the woman had some aesthetic sense. There were a lot of colourful amateur paintings on the grey wall. The chairs were plain neutral colours with pops of bright colours from the throw pillows. In the middle of the parlour, there was a big bowl of plastic fruits on the centre table which someone had apparently tried to take a bite out of.
Alice stood in the middle of the parlour with an amused look on her face when Marvis came into the kitchen with dough stained fingers.
“That is my baby’s hand work. Since he grew teeth, he has been sinking his teeth in everything he can find. It is like a challenge to him.”
“Sit down. Let me try to mix this dough then I’ll be right with you.”
“You are making bread? Let me help you. It’s kind of my area of expertise.” Alice said as she smiled.
Mavis happily accepted and they headed into the kitchen.
Marvis stepped aside as she watched Alice knead the dough careful using her hands as tools.
“It’s as if you went to school for it.” Mavis said as she started to set out the dishes for lunch.
“It’s because I went to school for it.” Alice answered jokingly. The woman was easy to talk to. Like a friend or an acquaintance at least.
“That is interesting. Then you could give me some tips.”
“How much will you pay me?” Alice joked.
Mavis laughed and Alice joined her.
“That other day, you looked so cold and old. Now, you look younger.” Mavis said.
“I lost a friend recently.” My only friend. “I’m getting over the death now. As crazy as it sounds… I think helping that boy actually contributed in helping me.”
“It doesn’t sound crazy.” The lively woman said. “What you did was truly amazing. A lot of people would not think twice before accepting that doctor’s offer. Even people that could spare the money to treat him.”
Alice covered the dough with some cling film. It was a perfect ball now. Alice washed her hands and helped Marvis to set up lunch.
Marvis, her husband and her nine year old son had lunch together with Alice. The baby was sleeping soundly inside. Mavis had fed him earlier.
“Your son is quite the artist.” Alice said after Mavis’ husband informed her that the little boy was the one who made all the paintings on the wall.
“Thank you.” The boy said as his lashes fluttered because of modesty.
“My father would beyond doubt disapprove of this kind of encouragement. I don’t blame him though, most parents prefer professions that are popular and that can bring a lot of money.” She said to Mavis’ husband.
“Being governing is hard. You can’t control everything around you. You might as well go with the flow. When people do what they love, they put more effort into it anyway.” He replied. Mavis’ husband looked as young as her. If Alice didn’t know better, she’d think they were vampires. But she knew their secret; the fountain of youth. They did something which kept them ageless.
“I of all people know the power of passion. It’s like this fuel in your spirit that keeps you going, You never get tired and you keep doing what you love because you love it.” she felt like a hypocrite. One thing had put out that fire and had caused her dreams to stop. She just couldn’t carry on with that dream anymore because Justin was dead. How could you open a door which the key did not exist?
“You are right. But it makes me wonder why you sold your bakery.” Mavis chimed in.
Alice was startled. The woman had been reading her mind.
From the room, they heard the sound of the crying baby and Mavis’s older son volunteered to go comfort the baby.
“I saw the place. You had all this equipment. Please don’t feel like I’m prying but the place had potential and if you kept going the pace you were going, in no time, the place would have been done.”
It felt as if it was not Marvis but her own conscience that was interrogating her so. She felt guilty.
“We did put maximum effort into making the place work. Justin, my friend put a hundred and fifty per cent effort and there were so many times that the dream seemed unattainable, like we were wasting our time. But we never gave up. The economy and lack of funds or what people said never stood as a barrier from opening ‘Just-Alice’s Bakery and Café’ to us.”
She exhaled. All of a sudden, she felt as if she was explaining to Justin.it felt as if He stood just behind Mavis’ chair with this annoyed yet cute look which he used to have whenever he demanded an explanation.
“And then Justin died…” that seemed like the appropriate end of the story.
“I get what it is like to lose someone. It really hurts but ending everything in your life just seems like one way to make things worse.” Mavis said. She heard Justin’s voice layer under Mavis’ especially that one thing we fought so hard for. You just threw it away like that.
Alice looked down in shame. “It’s not like I had any choice. I didn’t choose it. It just happened. I died when you- he died. My dreams vanished. I couldn’t go on. It’s not as if I wanted it.”
“Your happiness vanished but it’s coming back… you dreams can come back too.” Mavis said.
“No it can’t.” She was convinced. “There is no way I can go through with it. Not without Justin.” Alice said. “Even if I wanted to, I have already sold the building to you. I’d have to start from scratch.”
“I don’t think she’d be willing.” Mavis’ husband whispered audibly.
“She might consider it. I won’t give up yet.” Mavis said.
“Wait. What has all this to do with the proposal you talked about. Did you call me here to interview me?”
They had all stopped eating now and the little boy had not come back.
Mavis blurted out a little laugh as scratched her head. “Don’t mind us. I didn’t explain properly.”
“My name is Mavis, this is my husband Jon. By day, I am an accountant and he is an Estate surveyor but we are also heroes.” She had this mischievous smile on her face.
“We are members of an extraordinary organisation called Hope from the Blue. As its name suggests, it is an organisation which focuses on offering help to the hopeless, those forgotten by society.” Alice’s mind went to the orphan boy and his siblings.
“We offer help regardless of gender, class, religion, or race all while spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Her husband added.
“Our mind set is that the way to eradicate evil in the world is by depositing just enough goodness to tip the balance. This organisation reaches out to everyone since Jesus, our anchor died for everyone. And much more than offering help, the organisation concentrates on transmitting the ideology of giving. Giving time, energy, help, resources, dreams…” Mavis paused and watched Alice carefully. “In other words, we search for people who can carry this mentality in them and exercise this belief that positivity can change a life. You admitted that helping that boy made you feel better. You personally made a decision to save a boy who you had no ties with, with resources that were not even enough to meet your own needs.”
“This is our proposal. We want you to join us. The place that we bought from you, we have started construction and when it’s finished, it’s going to be a home. The street children have been street children for too long. It’s time someone stepped up to pull them close. We need someone to watch over the place, we need a guardian. I didn’t even know you were the one we were searching for but when you made the decision to save that boy, I knew that you are one of the new breed. The people of positivity. A people who are willing to give in place of lack, to love in place of war, to smile in place of sorrow. But we know that it would be difficult for you to accept our proposal knowing that it was the same building… it would be hard if you still have that lump of grief in your chest. I know that I’m not minding my business but we can’t really do that most of the time. Our proposal is that you pick up that dream that you once threw away. At least let’s recycle it for you.”
Alice paused to think. She remembered how her heart ached whenever she saw that building but her heart ached more when she realized the ordeal of those homeless children. This was an opportunity that seemed almost divine. Just a few days ago, she had stayed up at night and prayed. God, please give these children a home.” Now her prayers had been answered. About her grief for Justin, she looked up and she still saw him standing behind the anxious faces of Mavis and Jon. He smiled. I did help you to achieve your dream didn’t i? Alice chuckled.
“So you were the ones who put out those petitions about hospitals treating them for free?”
Mavis nodded. She looked expectant.
“What you people do is astonishing by the way. Justin was that kind of person you know… the kind who always did good and always sacrificed. I’m sure he would have loved to be a part of Hope from the Blue. Now I know your secret; your fountain of youth. It is what you do. Helping people in some crazy way is what makes you ageless. And I thought you people were vampires.” She said with a smile.
“So…” Mavis said. “Do you accept?”
“if you are asking me if I want an opportunity to have light in my life again. In fact, an opportunity to be a light in someone’s life: a light of the world. The answer is yes.”