The Department Store Lion Chapter 1: In the Streets of London

year was 1967. Large drops of rain pelted against the spotlessly clean
windshield of the closed top convertible as it wound its way through foggy
streets and mist covered avenues in London. In fact, everything was so entombed
in mist that Hailey could barely see the mild glow of traffic signals. As the
light flashed from a fire-engine red to a cool green, Hailey pressed the
accelerator with her right foot and ambled the car forward cautiously. She did
not wish to get into an accident and damage her new car, which had been an
expensive gift from her parents. Hailey’s family was of the working class as
her father was a clothing salesman at Macy’s department store and her mother
served as a nurse in a busy hospital. Because of this, money was usually tight
in their home, and mother often said that it was important that they use most
of their money for basic necessities so that enough could be left for tithe. As
Hailey turned on the windshield wipers for the car, she thought of all the
countless ways that God had provided for her family in spite of financial

            Once, when Hailey was five years
old, her father discovered that the shelves in their wooden pantry were empty
and they could not afford to buy more groceries as her father’s pay check
wasn’t due to arrive before next week. However, a kindly neighbor named Mrs.
Blossom had learned of this situation and felt impressed to give the family two
crates of food which was filled with fruit and cereal which lasted until
Hailey’s father was paid! “Truly, God’s ways of taking care of his children are
nothing short of miraculous!” Hailey thought as she drove along Oxford Street
which was crowded with huge buildings and blaring signs.

could see groups of people close to her age who were laughing and talking with
one another on the street. One girl in a red and green plaid jacket and denim
jeans was happily chatting with another girl who was tall and held an umbrella
over their heads. Hailey could see the first girl lean closer to the other girl
and whisper something into her ear. The other girl’s brow furrowed before she
burst into a peal of laughter. Hailey knew that it was probably a shared joke
and her eyes were filled with longing as she saw the girls walk away in an opposite
direction. “They seemed nice,” Hailey thought to herself, “I wonder if they
would have liked to talk to me. If they were talking about singers, I could
have mentioned Cliff Richard. I heard him sing at a gospel meeting recently. Or
I could invite them to listen to some records at my apartment.” Although, Hailey
did have to admit that God had provided for her physical needs over the years
in many ways, she couldn’t understand why God permitted her to feel so lonely.

the fog started to clear, Hailey realized that it was foolish to allow her
attention to be distracted by people-watching and snapped back to the task of
driving. “On a rainy day like this,” Hailey thought, “It would be nice to
listen to some music.” Even though the windshield wipers created a thrumming
rhythm, Hailey felt that it almost sounded mournful and decided to turn on the
radio for a brighter atmosphere. As several songs crackled through the car’s loudspeakers,
thoughts of family again intruded into Hailey’s mind. Before coming to London
to live in an apartment duplex as a young college student, Hailey had lived
with her family in a two-story house with white shutters which survived the icy
blasts of winter in New Hampshire, a state with great natural beauty.

Hailey steered the wheel of the car on a left turn, she was reminded of the way
that her eight-year-old brother, Cornelius, complained about the more, “ancient,”
features of their home including the gas stove and brick fireplace as the house
was built during the 18th century. Hailey’s father frequently called
the repairmen because the bricks in the fireplace had started to come loose and
the mortar was cracking. In fact, last February, the family had been enjoying a
peaceful meal together when a swirling, dark cloud of ashes and soot ambushed
them while they were sitting in the living room. When the repairmen came that
day, he said that there was a blockage from a collection of abandoned swallow
nests which had become dislodged in the chimney. Cornelius had said nothing but
Hailey could tell that he was frustrated as he had been looking forward to
eating a dessert of lemon meringue pie.

the most part, as a little brother, Cornelius was very sweet and easy going,
excepting the fireplace, and had many friends among the other children in the
neighborhood. Cornelius had light blond hair and could usually be found running
races against some of the other boys in his third-grade class. Through Hailey’s
sideview mirror, she noticed that she had just passed a bakery and smelled the
tempting aroma of freshly baked bread and sweets. Hailey wished that she could send
Cornelius a pie that wasn’t coated with ashes or soot but she wasn’t sure how expensive
it would be to send a pie through the mail.

then, the rain, which had been a gentle downpour, turned into a fierce storm as
the water was mixed with tiny, crystal balls of hail which bounced off the
metal grill of Hailey’s convertible. Hailey saw that the storm wouldn’t be
stopping for any time soon after driving for 20 minutes and decided to look for
a place where she could wait out the storm. With the heels of her boots tramping
on the slick sidewalks, Hailey scanned the decorated fronts of different shops
and stores. Then, for no reason, Hailey felt impressed to retrace her steps and
saw a massive building which immediately caught her attention.


hope that you are enjoying the story, so far! Please, let me know what you
think! Also, would it be okay if I used Connie as a nickname for Cornelius or
would that be confusing? My mother once knew a boy named Cornelius who had the
nickname of Connie.


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The Department Store Lion Chapter 1: In the Streets of London

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