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The Lady with the Pop Bottle Glasses
Finola leaned back against the wooden bench in the old bus shelter, fat droplets of precipitation pounding against the glass above her. The contents of her backpack dug through the material in her shirt and prodded at her back, the bag overstuffed and bulging at the seams. Reaching behind her, she took hold of the book bag and swung it across the bench in a mad fit. Hot anger seeping through her pink cheeks, she folded her arms across her chest in despair. She looked up at the sky and, for a brief second, had the notion that a pair of rain drops had plodded down onto her freckled cheeks. Upon feeling under her eyes, she realized they were tears.
The young teenager wiped her face with a wad of tissue from her torn up jean pocket as another wave of menacing gray clouds rolled over the sky, blotting out the little sunshine there was on such an overcast day. Lightning flashed in the distance, and as Finola closed her stinging eyes, she almost saw the silhouette of her beloved dog outlined in crackling lightning. She may have only known the rambunctious creature for a short time, but he meant the world to her.
Finola knew he was a bad dog, but she never thought for a single moment that he deserved to be taken back to the pound. He may be mischievous on the outside, but the girl knew he was a good, loyal dog deep in his heart. If only her parents would think the same. They gave up on that dog the moment he stepped paw in their house.
“This animal is too much trouble,” her father had said after the dog tore up a pair of his shoes. “We’ve only had him for two days, and he’s already turned our house into a disaster area! He’s going back whether you like it or not!”
Finola clenched her fists, staring up angrily at her parents. He’s just a puppy!” the girl said. “He deserves a chance!” She wrapped her arms lovingly around the animal’s large furry neck as her father shook his head in disgust.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “We can’t afford this beast anyways!” Finola got up from the old couch on which she was sitting, realization hitting her like a speeding train. Her father’s decision could not be swayed. The girl felt completely helpless. “I’m going over Tom’s house,” she explained in a quiet, defeated voice to her father. Grabbing her blue bag, she leaned out the screen door at the front of the house. Turning to look at her father, she gave him the most unhappy face she could muster and walked out onto the puddle filled street.
Just thinking over previous events made the girl’s heart ache with sadness. Tears welling up in her already pink and swollen eyes, she ventured out into the rain as the bus pulled up to the curb. Tommy would know what to do, she thought. Tom had been her best friend for as long as she could remember, and he always seemed to have a solution for everything.
With doubt pulling her down like a gray storm cloud, the girl hopped on the bus and handed in her pass. Upon turning towards the seats, she realized the entire bus was filled except for one seat beside a small, frail-looking elderly woman. The woman had short white hair and wore a pink pastel sweater, white pants, and the biggest pop bottle glasses Finola had ever seen.
Shrugging, Finola made her way over to the seat, stares following her down the aisle. Pulling her bag off of her shoulder, she took her place beside the elderly woman and prayed that the bus ride would be short.
“Why so glum, dear?” The elderly woman pulled Finn out of her reverie. The girl recovered from her state of daydreaming and shrugged. “It’s my dog,” she told the lady. “My parents want to get rid of him. He’s a bad dog and we can’t afford him.”
“If it was up to you, would you keep him?”
“For sure. I would never give him up to anyone.”
All was quiet for a moment, the only sound coming from the noisy bus and the downpour of rain outside. Finn sighed and watched as the cars sped by in a blur outside the bus. She waited for the lady to respond. “You know,” the older woman said. “I’m very involved in the A.P.L downtown. I’ll put in a good word for you if you want a job down there. I can get you a paying one too, but you’ll have to come every day and really put in the effort. I bet you anything your parents will let you keep the animal if they see how responsible you can be with other animals. You’d be bringing in money too, so you could help pay for the dog.” The bus pulled to a stop.
“Would you like that,” the woman asked Finn. Finola, smiling at the elderly lady as she got up, replied, “Yeah, I’d love that.” The elderly woman nodded then and began walking away down the aisle. Upon reaching the door of the bus, she turned around and winked at Finola.
Finola sat back, not realizing at first that the woman had called her by her name. After the bus began to move again though, Finn sat up in shock. How did she know my name? When did I tell her? The girl squirmed anxiously in her seat, not fully understanding what had just happened. Completely overwhelmed with thought, she missed the stop for Tommy’s house and instead got off at the one by the A.P.L.
Finn took her time walking down the littered street. All around her, tall buildings soared up into the sky and threatened to topple over onto her. Pulling the hood of her black sweatshirt up over her head, she turned the corner and was faced with the Animal Protective League building. Hopefully the elderly woman had already called in about her. She doubted the woman would do something like that so quick, but she had to try and secure this job before she returned home. This may be her last chance at keeping her pet.
She strode in through the doors and approached the counter. After discussing the possibility of a paying job with the man at the counter, she was told to wait while the man got his manager and some job applications. The girl leaned on the counter and looked around at the bright white walls. Opposite her and the counter was the door that led into the area the animals stayed. Above the door was a plaque.
Finn, curious about what was on the plaque, walked over by the door. A picture of a woman was there. A woman with short white hair, a sweater, and pop bottle glasses. The girl stepped back, shocked. Under the picture, some words were engraved.
In loving memory of Bridget Peterson,
A living guardian angel of animals and owners alike.
When the man and the manager arrived, Finn asked them about the plaque. The manager seemed to know the most about it. “Bridget founded this place. We called her a guardian angel for the animals because she always seemed to be saving or helping animals in need. She was a great woman.” Finn nodded, and everyone was silent for a moment, mulling over what the manager had said.
Finally, the man spoke up. “Well, should we have her fill out the application, boss?” He held the papers tightly in his right hand. The manager took them from him and looked them over.
“Hmmm…” he mumbled. “There’s something about you, kid. Something different.” He paused for a moment and looked up at Finn. “You know what? You got the job. There’s no need to fill out the papers. I just have this feeling that Bridget would’ve wanted you on the team.”
Finn smiled, still confused about everything, but beginning to understand. “She’s definitely my guardian angel,” she said. “I’ll take the job.”