An old newspaper clipping among stacks of paper
“Alva, you’re going to have to pay some back taxes. I’m no expert in these things but even I can see that you haven’t been filing properly or on time for years. Don’t you have an accountant?”
Alva didn’t seem to be listening to Kitty. Instead she was examining the neat stacks of papers and envelopes Kitty had arranged on the table.
“The rest is still in there. I have everything stacked according to groups,” Kitty began to explain. “Out here are the ones from this year. In there,” she pointed to the bathroom, “are years past. See, these are expenses related to your house. And these are related to the café. The ones over there are personal letters and I threw out all the old magazines and newspapers and the junk mail with coupons and all that kind of thing. Alva, don’t you ever throw anything away?”
“I asked if you don’t throw anything away ever,” Kitty repeated.
“Oh, no. Thataway I always have all the information I need. If I ever need it. And you never know what’ll be coming in the mail, do you? But I guess now it don’t matter none anyways, what with that man and all,” Alva said.
Kitty shook her head. “I don’t know what man you mean. But there was some really old stuff in here. Like this … ” She held up an old newspaper clipping, yellowed and wrinkled and frayed at the edges. “I mean really, Alva, you don’t live in Georgia. Do you really need this?”
“Where’d you find that?” Alva took it from Kitty’s hand gingerly as if she was afraid it might turn to dust. Alva’s hand had begun to shake.
“Are you OK?” She asked. “I hope I haven’t done any damage. I mean I only was doing what you asked.”
“No, no, thass all right, Sweetie,” Alva said. But she wasn’t really listening to Kitty anymore and she wandered off to the stairway and started up to her apartment, the frayed newspaper in one hand, the other holding the banister for support. “You go on and call that countint. You go on. Thass a good idea. You done a good job. Indeed.”
Kitty watched her slowly climb the stairs to the second floor. She felt a protective wave sweep over her and had the sense that Alva was entering some sort of period of crisis. She resolved to stay until she could see that Alva was alright again, although had she been asked to describe exactly what she saw as amiss in Alva’s life, she certainly couldn’t have said. Thoughts of her own destiny were shifted to the back of her mind. She could always call the convent. It was as Alva had said on the bus. The sisters weren’t going anywhere. So she would make it her task to find an accountant, settle Alva’s affairs, restore order to her life, and wait to see the outcome.