"Billie!" My mom shouts. I can hardly hear here her over the roar of the vacuum cleaner from where I am standing in my new room, unpacking clothes.
"Bille, answer the door!" The door? I listen. Sure enough, I hear a faint knock, and then a woman's voice calling, "Hello?"
I dropped the carton of clothing on my bed and ran to the front door. On the way I take a wrong turn and almost crash into the bathroom. Darn! In my old house, I always turned left from my room to get to the door.
When I finally open it there is a short, preppy-looking woman standing on the doorstep. "Good afternoon," she says, smiling hugely. One of her teeth is capped in gold. "Is your mother home?"
"Uh..." I stammer. "Yes. She is. Would you like to come in?"
The woman steps into the front hallway and glances around critically. "You'll have to fix this place up," she tells me. "The last family that lived here had three teenage sons, and threw loud parties every weekend. They almost broke the house down, too. I'm surprised they didn't deafen everyone in the neighborhood. I hope you won't be like them."
"No...ma'am," I reply. She seems like the kind of woman you would call Ma'am.
"I'm Mrs. Allen," she informs me. "I live just down the block. Actually, I am head of the PTA and Woman's Aid Society in town, as well as the Church Group. Was your mother in the Church Group back in Chicago?"
"I--I don't think so," I managed. Actually, we had never gone to church, but I didn't feel like that would be a good thing to tell Mrs. Allen.
"Ah, well," she said. "There's always a first time for everything. Now, if you could kindly--"
Just then my mother came into the front hallway, wiping her hands on her jeans. "Hello," she said, extending her hand. "I'm Linda Liberty. I suppose you've met my daughter Billie?"
"Why, indeed," she replied. "I'm Marilyn Allen from down the road. As head of your local Welcome Wagon, I would like to present you with a packet of coupons, courtesy of the Ladies Aid Society. We're on of the few communities that still has a Ladies Aid, you know, and I think it's just wonderful. I do hope you'll join."
I saw my mother's face contract into a forced smile as she struggled to keep from laughing. "Well..." she stuttered. "Thank you for your...hospitality. We just got here about an hour ago. I hope my daughter will make some friends. Do you know any children in the neighborhood?"
"Oh yes," Mrs. Allen bubbled. " Bunnie, dear, my son Daniel is going to the same school as you are. Perhaps you can walk there together?"
"My name is Billie," I said, but she paid no attention. "I've really got to run. "You know how these things are. But I'm sure we'll meet again, Linda, dear, and do call me about Billie and Daniel. I'm sure he'd love to have her join him."
And then, suddenly, she was gone.
Mom and I looked at eachother for a moment. "Well," she said finally, "Let's get to work. We have a whole house to clean."
And then we both started laughing.