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An Act of Kindness
It had been a busy morning in the coffee shop. The antique school bell that hung above the door had not ceased to ring and the visible bottom of the coffee grinder meant the supply of coffee beans was getting low. Used ceramic mugs left moist ringlets on the normally spotless red tabletops, and plates that once held generous pieces of Golden Peach Pie had been licked clean and piled onto the edge of the counter.
Seventeen-year-old Celeste was overwhelmed. She hadn’t expected her summer high school job to be this busy. Her hair, normally woven tightly in a French braid, hung distractingly in her flushed face as she bustled around the small shop offering refills and advice on the best diners in town.
Managing to steam milk with one hand and count change with the other, Celeste glanced out the window to see the familiar bike with faded blue paint zoom up to the door. Celeste smiled to herself as a young girl practically toppled off the bike in excitement and clambered inside.
The old bell clanged, and Celeste turned over her shoulder to yell in a voice just loud enough to reach the front, “I’ll be right with you Hannah! I already ran out of Coconut Balls this morning, but I have a fresh batch in the oven just for you.”
A smile that seemed to stretch across the entire room lit up Hannah’s face as she scurried to find a seat in the now emptying coffee shop.
The wind on the bike ride over had clearly taken advantage of Hannah’s now disheveled blond hair, and the laces of her dirty sneakers trailed briskly across the distressed wooden floor. Hannah situated herself at corner chair and table and began to carefully extract change from her worn pockets and meticulously add the quarters, dimes and nickels together.
When the last tourist seemed content with their coffee and tables and countertops had been wiped clean, Celeste grabbed a water bottle from the humming fridge and a couple of freshly baked Coconut Balls and wearily plopped down next to Hannah.
“Hey girl, what have you been up to this morning?” Celeste asked as she slid the treats across the small table.
“Oh, actually I can only buy one,” Hannah said with longing look at the plate. “I only have a dollar.”
“Oh, well how about today you can eat mine for me?”
Hannah grinned sheepishly and began to break the treat into tiny pieces, so as to savor every bite.
“Mmmm…these are delicious!” she said in between nibbles. “Mom, didn’t want to get up to make breakfast this morning, and we were all out of cereal….” She trailed off.
Celeste offered a warm smile to the suddenly saddened young girl next to her and a little piece of her heart broke inside. Two months ago, one of Hannah’s four older sisters and best friend had been killed in a drunk driving accident. The family was torn apart, and the community mourned the loss of yet two more young lives lost to the perils of underage drinking. Celeste couldn’t possibly fathom what it was like to lose a sibling, as images of her young and only brother flashed through her mind.
The jangle of the doorbell startled Celeste out of her thoughts and she jumped to her feet to help the newest coffee craving customer. As she bustled around behind the counter, she watched Hannah out of the corner of her eye. As the youngest of eight kids, Hannah rarely received the attention she deserved from her struggling parents. She already understood the loss and pain that most other ten-year-olds thought they felt when they misplaced their favorite book.
As Celeste distractedly rang up the customer then refilled the espresso machine, she knew she had to reach out to her lonely little friend. She gave the counter one last wipe down, quickly made two strawberry smoothies and clocked out on her timesheet.
“Hey Hannah, my morning shifts over, you want to come back to my house to hang out and swim?”
“Oh my gosh, really?” she said with an exuberant smile across her face. “Can we even go tubing with your boat? I’ve never done that before!”
Celeste laughed and said of course, as she handed Hannah the second smoothie.
“My treat,” she said with a sly smile as the two of them walked happily out the coffee shop in pursuit of a fun summer afternoon.
A few days later a small plastic bag leaned against the front door of Celeste’s rustic log cabin. Inside there was a small green cookbook. As Celeste’s eyes skimmed the front cover in search of the author, her eyes fell over the name Kari Fitzgerald, Hannah’s mother. As she skimmed through the family recipes and stories, the front page flipped open. Written on the inside panel was a short note from the author:
For Celeste with love! Thank you so much for your kind
and beautiful heart. You have blessed Hannah with your
specialness and brought happiness into her eyes again.
You are welcome into our family anytime. May the seasons
of your life be wonderful.
God bless you,
Celeste hugged the book tightly to her chest, and a tear slid down her cheek at the small act of kindness. She couldn’t wait to see Hannah tomorrow.