Helena Humphries lived with her dog Alan and her crow Lena. They had been together for several years and weren't planning to separate any time soon. Her husband Harvey had died five years ago and both animals were greta companions for an elderly lady like Helena.
For years, she had taken care of a small shop, located just below her apartment. The place had been the property of Harvey's family but they all died out fast and he was the last one. So he gave the shop to Helena in his will.
To be honest, she had not been very happy when she realized she had to take care of business. She was 74 years old and planned to live the rest of her days in peace and tranquility. The shop was too much to do, too much to pay attention to. She had always thought the place was perfect for her husband, an innate businessman. But she didn't have it in her.
They had met in high school and from then on she was only a wife. They never had children and, to be honest again, she didn't resent it. She thought children should only come to the world if they were "looked for" and if they were guaranteed love.
Helena had suffered from depression when she was younger and Harvey had taken care of her with love and friendship. For that, she had always been thankful and decided to be the best wife she could and she had been: beautiful cakes every birthday, delicious dinners after a hard day at work and kisses and hugs in bed.
Harvey had died a happy old man. He was 80 and died from a heart attack, a disease that plagued his family, made mainly of larger people.
So Helena had to take the shop in her hands. She sold everything: groceries, candy and even hardware.
One day, a particular windy one, a woman called Virginia entered the store. She browse around but didn't appear to be really interested in anything. Helena had recognized her: people of the neighborhood said she was a prostitute and that she had a son out of one of her clients.
- Might I help you?
Virginia looked at Helena and started crying. The older woman didn't know what to do, so she grabbed some hankies, the one she sold, and gave them to the woman. She cleaned her face, tainted by ruined make up, and blew her nose.
Helena asked if she was fine and the woman started her story: it was true. She was a prostitute as she had been laid off from her job at a brewery and she found herself with no husband and a child. But the child was not a consequence of her new work, more like the cause of it. She did it for him, so he could have food and a better life.
But she was tired of her living and wanted to stop. But her procurer forced her to keep doing it and she didn't wanted to.
At the edge of tears, Helena told her no woman should be forced to do nothing, as her Harvey had said. He had always encouraged Helena to be more than his wife but she had settled in it so well, she didn't wanted to pursue dreams that may not come true.
- Work here. I have an extra room for you and the baby. Turn your life around.
This had two purposes: help Virginia and also separate herself from the store so she could have some peaceful elderly years.
The younger woman moved in with her son and life was good and quiet for a week or so until a man named Gregory came into the store, with a body guard as big as Mrs. Humphries wardrobe. They started pushing things to the floor and insulting Virginia for failing to do her job. She asked for forgiveness and told Gregory she would pay any debts. The big man grabbed her by an arm and almost broke it.
Suddenly a loud bang was heard. No one really knew what it was until Gregory fell dead on the floor. Mrs. Humphries had come down from her apartment, where she was taking a nap next to Virginia's baby, with her rifle.
It has to be said that Harvey had always been cautious and didn't trust the authorities too much, as his younger brother had been drafted illegally by military men and then died in a faraway land. So when he married Helena, he taught her how to shoot and use all kinds of guns. On saturdays, they would share an evening at the shooting range and then have milkshakes for desert. Helena had always loved those days as she felt strong and with purpose.
The tall big man dropped Virginia and attempted to leave but Mrs. Humphries shot again, this time pointing at his knee. The man screamed of pain.
In a matter of minutes, the police was there, picking up the bodies and summoned the women for interrogation. As it was self defense during property invasion, they let them go.
From then on Mrs. Humphries took care of Virginia as if she was a daughter and Virginia learned to think of the older lady as a mother. She proposed Helena to close the store for remodeling in order to turn it into a nice little café, which could attract more clients. Virginia was skilled at baking and pastries and had always wanted to do it for a living.
The new café was a success. Every person in town wanted to have one of Virginia's pastries for dessert. Helena helped too and, finally, gave in to her Harvey's wish of her becoming more than a wife. She became a proper owner, a good hostess and a great surrogate mother for Virginia and her baby.
They had difficulties and great moments but they were together, as a family, and that was all that mattered.