(Photo by Dan Felstead of Wood and Pixels Narratives)
JADE AND THE BOARDING HOUSE
Jade stood in front of the house, her black almond shaped eyes squinting up at the fading yellow siding. 2317 South Olin Drive - this must be the place, she thought.
Since arriving to Earth two weeks ago, Jade had been living in a local motel, a ratty little place out by the waterfront. She had been trying to blend in and not draw attention to herself, but her choice of living accommodations had had the opposite effect. All the Earthlings she had met so far couldn't understand why she was living in such a bad neighborhood in such a bad place.
She had been given the name of a boarding house a few miles away, so now Jade was standing in front of the 3-story house. It was unimposing and actually looked shabbier than the rest of the houses on the quiet street, but she had been assured that Mrs. Maple Mills was a respectable woman with a respectable boarding house.
Jade opened the creaky black iron gate and stepped onto the cracked sidewalk, closing the gate behind her. On the wide front porch, she surveyed the neat flower pots, the wicker porch furniture and the wicker swing hanging in the far corner. Looks like a quiet place to rest and think, Jade mumble under her breath.
Standing before the double front door, Jade rang the glowing doorbell and heard the harsh ringing from deep inside the house. When no one immediately answered the door, Jade rapped on the peeling green door face and then stepped away from the door.
"Just a minute - I'm coming! I'm an old woman - give me a chance to get there." The voice got louder until the front door finally opened.
"Give me a break, young lady! I'm not as spry as I used to be," said the plumb lady in front of her. Jade tried to suppress a laugh. Of all the photographs of Earthlings she had seen during her training for the Earth mission, Jade had never seen such a woman. Coming up only to Jade's shoulders - when Jade had her glamour in full force (without her glamour, the woman would only come up to Jade's belly button) - this petite, chunky woman gave off aura of maternal love. It was oozing from her pores and Jade immediately felt at ease.
"Pretty young thing - you must be Jade. Come in, come in. Hectore Raynes told me you might be showing up." Hectore was the coffee shop owner where Jade had eaten her breakfast every day since arriving to Earth. "He said you were a sweet young thing and I wouldn't be sorry for taking you in. I'm Maple Mills, of course - just call me Maple. What brings you to San Francisco?"
"I'm taking a year off from college to see the world," was Jade's rehearsed reply. She had been given enough Earth money to sustain her while on her 10 year mission, so having a convenient cover story warded off any unnecessary questions.
"And what's brings you to our fair city?" Maple had the eyes of a hawk, and Jade got the impression this woman would immediately know if she were lying.
"I ... I've heard a lot about San Francisco. There's lots of opportunity to observe the arts and try to decide what I want to do with my life." Jade looked the woman in the eyes, willing her to believe the story.
"Hmmm - you're not a street walker, a prostitute - I won't abide by that kind of behavior in my home. No, sir, I run a respectable boarding house." Maple put her plumb hands on her amble hips.
"No, ma'am! I have a small trust from my parents, and I'll be looking for work," said Jade, reciting the cover story. "Respectable work, ma'am - I promise."
"Well, you seem to be telling the truth. But if I find out otherwise, I'll toss you out faster than you can say 'Bob's your uncle'. You got that?" She stabbed a pointed finger into Jade's chest and it was all Jade could do not to recoil in fear.
"Y ... ye ... yes, ma'am. I understand," stammered Jade.
"Good! I think we're going to get along just fine. Come on, I'll show you your room." Maple turned and headed up the narrow staircase, and Jade followed.
This was the being of a long relationship that would last the entire time Jade was on Earth.