Albelina-Atlanté lives with her very old grandmother in a very old Victorian house situated in the middle of a very long street of Victorian homes.
The house has 3 floors if you include the attic, and each floor has large lace covered windows, except for the attic of course, the attic only has a small window which you can just see peeking out from the roof.
During the long hot summers the windows and curtains stay shut, on account of the bugs and the summer heat. Each room has a noisy humming heavy ceiling fan.
The front of the house looks upon a small garden overgrown with False Indigos, Crested Irises and Day Lilies. To enter the garden there is a waist high iron fence with a crooked rusted gate that is rarely ever closed.
The back garden is quite narrow but goes back forever, it is absolutely wonderful. Albelina loves spring and summer because all the plants grow and grandma being so old, well she can’t keep up with them so before you know it the back garden becomes a dense jungle. Green beans grow in rows to the left, below them are the tomatoes and off to the right is the ever-growing patch of peppermint, which escaped its pot and is now slowly taking over the garden. The grass grows freely, right up to Albelina’s knees. The raspberry bush has turned wild and mixed with the wild black berries. And once summer really starts there is the surprise of finding the next free ranging watermelon that Grandma swears she did not plant.
Grandma says the best time to wake up is when the sun rises, so that is what she does, up at dawn, she has an early cup of tea, works until lunch, then a small nap. Then as the summer heat begins to cool down, it is back to work for Grandma. Grandma’s house is perfect, everything is spotless, everything works and there is never a shortage of good food, blackberry tea and soft oatmeal biscuits. Grandma also says there are only two things you should be doing one is working and if you are not working then you should be praising the Lord. And that is the best time for Albelina, at the end of the day they leave the house and head on down to choir practice.
Both Grandma and Albelina have excellent voices; even though Grandma is old she can still hit those high and low notes. However Albelina’s voice is special, when she sings the whole room is lifted and everyone’s mood becomes amazing. Albelina’s voice is smooth like silk, sweet like jam and on occasion can be as forceful as a night storm.
Choir practice last for about two hours, and Albelina always feels great at the end. It is that feeling of happy satisfaction. Then there is the slow summer evening walk home, the heat of the day fading away, fire flies darting on and off, Grandma softly chatting and then as always at the end of the walk, by the rusted gate Grandma says to Albelina “You are a special girl with a special voice”.
What Albelina does not realize yet is that her voice can be heard much farther away than she knows. People who are miles away if they listen can hear her voice. For them it is a faint sound in the distance, but it is there. Other people hear it like a tune in their head. Some people don’t know they can hear her voice but for no reason might feel happy or calm depending on the song. Albelina’s honest and loving sound makes everything wonderful.
And yet Albelina is a little lonely, on her street there are the twins to the right 3 doors up, but they are already nearly 13 years old, then her best friend Sharon moved to another town, and her other friend Tammy has a very strict mother and is hardly ever allowed out to play. As usual Grandma always has some good advice, “Things always change, someone moves away, someone moves in, you never know what the wind will bring”.
To be continued….