If anyone ever felt invisible it was Kitty.
Kitty went through the next weeks as if she were moving through some kind of thick soup. While she organized and sorted all of Alva’s records, picking up paper after paper, opening envelope after envelope, stacking this one here and that one there, her mind seemed to be occupied with a different kind of sorting. The tools she had been forced to learn from her husband kept her hands busy but it was a superficial kind of activity. Yet it spurred her to wonder about what Alva had said.
As Thanksgiving approached Kitty felt a certain agitation set in. Every day since that first trip to the corner, she had walked farther and farther until by now, with the wind whipping up and down the side streets and blustering around every corner, she walked and walked. As soon as her day’s work was over, she grabbed her coat and was off. She never consulted a map or asked anyone directions. She simply started to walk and wherever Brooklyn went, she followed.
Sometimes she looked at everything she passed. Sometimes she stopped and really stared, reading every sign, every house number, even reading the raised letters on manhole covers. But at other times she walked aimlessly for hours and could not have said what she passed or where she had been. During these times, her mind trudged through the memories of events in her life, of the endless sameness of her days since she had left her home in Kentucky, of the vague image of her mother’s face, the deep grooves in her thin cheeks, the piercing blue eyes, and the frazzled hair, graying prematurely. She remembered her mother’s hands. Long, bony fingers, the skin red from too much contact with hot water, the nails short, the knuckles rough. Mostly she remembered the tired look in her mother’s eyes and her mother’s voice telling the children not to expect too much from life.
Thanksgiving was coming. The days were ending earlier, the dark settling swiftly over the city. Kitty’s walks became shorter and shorter as if she were in synch with the sun’s cycle.
During the Thanksgiving supper at Alva’s Café, Kitty felt a strange mix of emotions. Sometimes she felt alone and unconnected. At other times, looking around the restaurant at the variety of people who were drawn to Alva, Kitty thought this really was where she belonged. When Raoul spooned a fluffy orange mound of sweet potatoes onto her plate, she recalled one day, before her father had left, when their house had smelled of turkey and yams and biscuits and hot cider. She must have been about ten, she reasoned. And she smiled at Raoul.
“You eat up now, girl; need some meat on them bones. I hear stories ’bout choo. ’Bout how you walking your poor feet clear off on these streets. So you better eat up on this good food,” Raoul grinned at her and slapped some green beans onto her plate.
The next day, when she came back at dusk, she called The Convent of St. Mary Sisters of Charity.
“Sister Evangeline speaking.” It was the same voice Kitty had heard when she called from the bus station. At first Kitty didn’t know what to say.
“Yes?” Sister Evangeline asked, “is anyone there?”
Kitty thought that the real answer must be “No,” because if anyone ever felt invisible it was Kitty.
“Hello?” Sister Evangeline repeated.
Kitty cleared her throat and barely whispered. “Hello.” She cleared her throat again and tried a second time. “Hello? My name is Kitty Walker. I … ” and then she stopped … for what had she wanted to say to the Sisters of Charity?
“Yes, my dear,” Sister Evangeline said. “I remember you. Are you all right? We were expecting to hear from you again. But we didn’t know when.” She prattled on for a few moments and then stopped.
“I’m sorry,” Kitty said, “if I inconvenienced anyone.”
“No need to be sorry,” said the sister. “But we have been concerned about you. Are you well?”
“Yes, yes, I’m fine,” Kitty said. And then she realized that she was fine. “I just called to say that, well that,” she stopped again, unsure that this was the right decision.
“I understand, my dear,” said Sister Evangeline. “God does not want you to make a decision unless you are completely ready. He has a plan for each of us. Sometimes that plan is not clear all at once. Just remember, if you need us, we are here.”
“I do understand,” Kitty said. “I just wanted to be sure I let you know that I won’t be coming there anytime soon. I have to find something first. And, maybe then I will be able to … ” Her voice trailed off and then she said goodbye before hanging up the phone.