Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Audience Adventure - Day 27

It was a busy Saturday in the shop and Emma and Fiona flitted past each other - constantly running from shop floor to stockroom to till keeping customers happy. Emma was gasping to speak to Fiona - she had to keep swallowing the sentence “I kissed Jack” when it bubbled up her throat and knocked at her lips.

Anja was in that day too - ladling out a cold version of her chocolate drink to anyone interested in trying it. She had already had to refill the chilled urn three times and the pots of powder were flying off her little table. Every time Emma caught a glance of it she felt a tingle at the memory of making drinks for Jack the night before.

Even worse for Emma’s frayed nerves, Fiona had also hinted that she had huge news for Emma. She was swinging wildly from hoping it was progress with Simon to genuine fear that Fiona had taken Norman back. Every time the shop fell quiet and Emma thought they had some time to speak, someone would come in. And not just anyone… not just someone who wanted to idly browse shiny things and leave without buying anything. No. It was a steady of stream of customers with intensely specific taste who knew what they wanted but just not where to find it. Emma hadn’t known a day that busy since she’d started working there and she cursed every God she could remember that it had happened today. Not that she could remember very many gods it turned out. There was a blue one whose name she couldn’t think of, and several Egyptian ones but, again, all she knew was that they had animal heads. In the end she mainly swore internally at the image of a bemuscled Chris Hemsworth and Morgan Freeman. That felt like a good spread.

The clock dragged its heavy hands round to 6pm and Emma tapped a foot impatiently tutting at an older woman still deep in conversation with Fiona about an ornament. The woman was showing no signs of having noticed that the shop was closed. Emma had locked the door, turned off the music, told her it was closed… nothing.

“Well, I just would expect some kind of discount because it’s been on display.” The woman tried again, having failed the last three times she had asked Fiona for a discount on the angel.

“Well, as I explained,” Fiona was so patient, “I only put it on display this morning and it hasn’t suffered a single bit of damage so there’s not really any reason for it to be discounted.”

“It’s been on the shelf.” The woman stared back at Fiona without blinking.

“Yes, but the shelf hasn’t harmed it.” Fiona was standing her ground.

“We make our shelves out of wood rather than fire for precisely this sort of reason.” Muttered Emma under her breath, making Anja laugh. The woman shot a look in their direction and Emma straightened her smirk and continued to help Anja piling utensils back into the box.

‘Just give her the discount.’ Willed Emma, ‘Get rid of her so we can talk.’ But Fiona was not budging and eventually the woman had to relent or leave without the angel. She pulled out a Gold American Express card, paid, and FINALLY left the shop.

“It’s always the ones with money who fight hardest for the discounts.” Fiona mused, re-bolting the door.

“That is why they are rich.” Said Anja, simply.

Emma couldn’t last a single second longer, she just didn’t care about some rich old biddy with an angel collection when there were more pressing matters.

“I kissed Jack.” She blurted, “Well, he kissed me. We kissed!”

Fiona stared at her, wide eyed. “What?! When?!”

“Last night!” Emma gushed, “He knocked for me when he got in from seeing his ex-wife and told me he liked me and then I spilled hot chocolate everywhere, or maybe that was the other way round, but both of those things happened and then we kissed. We properly kissed. And we’re going out for dinner!”

Anja was smiling broadly over by the table, “Oh Emma you cannot be surprised. It was so obvious that he has liked you. He watches you and smiles. I’m glad he got round to telling you - it was painful to watch!”

“I absolutely was surprised! I had no idea.”

“But, do you like him then? What about Theo?” Fiona was frowning, “Do you think you won’t see him again then?”

“I don’t know!” Emma sighed, “What a lovely problem to have hey? I think it’s ok to go out for dinner with Jack isn’t it? It’s not like I’m in a relationship with either of them.”

“Don’t ask her.” Teased Anja, jolting an elbow at Fiona. Fiona threw a cloth at her in retribution.

“Yes, good point.” Emma remembered Fiona’s hints from the morning, “What’s your news?”

Fiona got suddenly shy and Emma feared the worst.

“It’s Norman.” Said Fiona, and Emma and Anja groaned in unison. “He gave me this.” Fiona’s brought her hand up and laid it flat on the counter. Emma and Anja’s dash across the shop floor was almost comical as they belted towards Fiona. There on Fiona’s finger was a ring with an enormous diamond in it. The diamond was surrounded by beautifully cut, smaller rubies. It really was astonishing. Emma couldn’t believe she hadn’t noticed it all day. Now that she could see it she could swear that light was glinting off it and causing a chandelier effect across the whole ceiling.

Emma stared at the ring, trying to work out which finger it was on. It was the big one right? THE finger? Or was that her left hand. Emma was dreadful at working out left and right and she tried to shift her body round to match Fiona’s to see whether it was the left or the right if you were Fiona. It was the third finger on the left hand. The finger.

“Oh my god!” Emma had to hand it to Norman - he might not be her cup of tea but he appeared to have impeccable taste in jewellery. “What does this mean? Has he…?” Emma exchanged a glance with Anja, unsure quite how to ask what they all knew she was asking.

“Yes.” Said Fiona, “Yes he has.”

“And, you are… you are wearing the ring… so?” Anja was stumbling too. Emma had never seen her unsure of what to say. The shop felt eerily quiet.

“I’m thinking about it.” Said Fiona. Emma felt frozen. She knew she needed to leap into action and congratulate Fiona. However she felt - that was the right thing to do. Unbounded joy and excitement for what her friend might decide.

“Fiona, I’m so happy for you?” She really tried but despite her best efforts the phrase came out sounding like a question. Had she been Australian she might have got away with it but unfortunately she was not and Fiona laughed out loud.

“Oh come on you two - I know. Alright? I know. But, you weren’t there and you aren’t me. I don’t know if I’ll say yes, but I want some time to sit with it.” Fiona was being pragmatic, sensible. But Emma felt like something was missing.

“What about Simon?” Emma asked, unable to keep the question down.

“I’m going to tell him I can’t see him any more. Tomorrow. I don’t know what I’m going to say to Norman but I know if I’m even considering giving him another chance then it isn’t fair to Simon. He’s so lovely, he’s a lot of fun, and it’s really helped me see how I feel about Norman and myself to have had someone else be interested, you know? But, things are messy and I don’t want to hurt him.”

“Wow. Fiona I think that’s the right thing to do.” Said Emma, whilst absolutely 100% firmly believing the opposite. Who would break up with a nice, handsome, friendly person with access to giraffes in favour of Norman? Norman was money obsessed while Fiona was not. Or perhaps she was? Emma was reminded again of how little, real time she had known all the people who now made up her life. It was disorientating and she pushed the realisation away.

“Where are you going to tell Simon?” Anja was asking, “Perhaps we should meet up afterwards to make sure you’re ok? We all have Sundays off.”

Fiona smiled at Anja, “That would be lovely. I’m sure it won’t be very fun - I’ll be sad to say goodbye.” Emma rubbed Fiona’s hand and the enormous ring scratched at her palm.

“Well, let us know when the deed is done and we can meet at the pub.” She said, warmly.

The three of them began to gather their coats and bags to head out for the evening. Emma was excited at the prospect of a lazy, drama free Saturday in her flat. Everything felt like a lot and she was very ready to charge her batteries in preparation for cheering up Fiona the next day.

Choose a location:

  1. Canal path
  2. Pub
  3. Train Station

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