Monday, 29 August 2011

King Leer

(Continuation of Anthony and Chloe-patra)

I must sort out my life.  As of today I shall be a completely different person with real goals and actual aspirations, because somehow I don't think starring in a Haribo TV advert will ever work out for me. 
    And this whole clumsy thing needs to stop.  I suppose it was quite cute when I was 17, but I'm 19 now.  People need to start taking me seriously.  I can't keep tripping up in the middle of the store, take down a whole clothes rail with me and then blame it on an earthquake.  It's getting embarrassing and frankly, no one believes me.
    Oh, and of course there's Anthony.  Well that obsession obviously needs to end, because
    a) I ruined the entire thing and he doesn't want me anymore, and
    2) he's with Chloe now who's very lovely and beautiful, and from my last encounter with her a little unhinged, so Anthony probably has enough on his plate.
    I put my pen down when I finish writing the list and rise from the bed, walking over to the mirror in the en suite.
    "Urgh, why can't I stop looking rough?" I say to myself as I scan my reflection.  My eyes have horrid dark circles underneath, and my skin is so pale at the moment it's practically transluscent.  I blame Mel for this.  She's put my name down on the work rota for every day this week and despite my protests, I haven't been able to get away from it.
    "But Clara's only just got back to work.  She's been very ill and can't cope on her own," was Mel's excuse.
    Oh please!!  I saw Clara doing shots at Purple Mustard last weekend.  She was so out of it a guy asked for her number and she took her top off.
    But what can you do.  And let's face it, it's not like I'll be revising anyway.  I opened up my Maths for Economics textbook, saw the word 'Derivatives' and shut it immediately.  I'm hoping in this instance ignorance really is bliss.

    "You look nice," Jo wolf whistles as I emerge in the kitchen.  She's sitting cross legged on the floor with a Tort Law book opened up in front of her.  I don't think she's doing much reading though because the Hollyoaks omnibus has started.  Which instantly makes me feel better about the fact that exams are looming ever so closer and I've barely read anything.  Except for this month's edition of Marie Claire.  Which doesn't count.
    "Your face looks nice.  That dress doesn't," she looks at my ancient work dress and throws me her best pity face.
    I choose to ignore her latter comment.
    "Well, I'm glad you've noticed," I say, pouting my lips to show that I'm wearing Syrup by Mac.  "It's the new me,"
    "The new you?  I'm very impressed," she says, rising from the floor and making her way to the sofa.  "And what does the 'new you' include?"
    "A few things, but to summarise, it includes expensive perfume and a new man,"
    "I'm liking the new you already.  Especially because your perfume has neutralised the stench of Rex's stir-fry,"
    I don't think that's a compliment, but I'm going to take it as one anyway.
    "I'm off to work," I say walking out of the kitchen.
    "But it's midday!"
    "Half day,"
    "Aren't you lucky!  Was Mel having a generous moment?"
    "No, I managed to convince her that we've already talked about me having a half day today, but she'd just forgotten,"
    "Clever girl,"
    "All part of the new me.  See you later," I say at the other end of the corridor.

    "You want to buy new uniform?"  Mel is looking at me like I've just shot her favourite puppy and then asked to borrow some sugar.
    "Yes.  I've had this same dress for a few months now.  We don't even have it on the shop floor anymore,"  but Mel's just tapping her foot with her arms crossed.
    This is just typical!  What's the point of working in a trendy, high-end High Street store when you're not allowed to wear any of the clothes?  I'm about to recite an entire monologue of how it says in our contract that we should buy new uniform with our 75% off as soon as the current one leaves the shop floor, but to my surprise Mel says, "OK, fine.  Go and pick something," and then walks away
    I'm left there in absolute awe, so much so, that I'm about to question it.  But the new me steps in before the old me spoils it.  And I go shopping at work.

    "Well, I suppose you look OK," Mel sticks her nose up at me after she's invited herself inside the fitting room.  She's lucky she stepped in 3 seconds after I stopped adusting my tights, otherwise I'd never have been able to look her in the eyes again.
    I turn back to the mirror after she's pulled the heavy fitting room door behind her.  She's wrong because I look more than just 'OK'.  I look fabulous!  The dress is a deep raspberry which really brings out my brown eyes, and my recently dyed medium brown hair, hangs perfectly against the sheer, short sleeves.  I'm swishing my dress in the mirror when I hear a voice from the other side of the door.
    "Is Ella working today?"  It's Anthony's voice.
    "Yes, she's here but she's very busy at the moment," Clara replies in her usual nonchalant style.
    There's a pause before Anthony answers.  "Just tell her I came by to see her, and I'll try to pop in later,"
    I undress as quickly as I can and put back the normal work dress in hope to catch him before he disappears out into the High Street, but as I emerge from the fitting rooms, I'm too late.  It's only Clara on the shop floor.  Her head is tilted to one side as she stares out of the windows.  Even with her back to me I can tell her face looks miserable. 
   "Did I hear someone ask for me?"  I say as I approach her.
    She turns to focus on me.  It's the same look I imagine a vampire would give their victim. "No," she manages.
    What???
    "Are you sure?  Because I thought I heard Anthony's voice,"  I probe.
    She huffs and looks at me again like she's already fed up of me pestering.  "OK, fine.  Yes, he came by and asked if you were working today.  He said he'd come by later.  There was another guy with him.  A rather dishy one,"  she smiles to herself and then moves away before I get to find out anything else.
    He was with a guy?  Why wasn't he with Chloe?  Have they broken up?  Did they break up because he's madly in love with me?
    Oh, stop it Ella!  The new you, remember?  The new you who doesn't care about Anthony.
    I turn around to help a customer but catch my reflection in the mirror.  The new you who has her dress tucked into her tights.

It's already 4pm and he still hasn't turned up.  I've purposely changed the rota so that I'm on front cover all day, guarding the door in the hope that he'll turn up and I won't miss him.
    And whilst being here I've learnt that there is such a thing as being overly keen at work.  I'm showing such interest with every customer who comes in, that they're engaging in a full conversation with me.  The trouble is that I don't think any of them want a conversation.  A man had to literally pull his wife away from me and say, "Come on dear, our dog's very sick,"
    I almost want to say, "I don't actually find you interesting.  I'm only talking to you so that my boss sees I'm good with customers and keeps me by the door for the rest of the day!"
    I peer out of the shop to look at the clock towering over the street.  It's two minutes past four.  And Anthony's still not here.  I cross my arms in agitation and avert my eyes inside the store.  I notice Clara marching towards me like she's on a mission.  Oh no, she's found out I accidentally ate her chocolate bar!
    "That's the guy," she says when she comes near me, but instead of looking at a particular person, she's looking at the floor.
    "What guy?"
    "DON'T look around and make it look obvious!" she shouts.
    "Make what look obvious?  I have no idea what you're talking about,"
    She rolls her eyes at me, "There's a guy standing next to the new burnt sienna suit.  See him?"  I nod when I notice him.  His eyes are glued to me.  "He's the guy who was with Adam earlier,"
    "Anthony,"
    "I don't actually care.  Anyway, he's been staring at you for the last ten minutes.  Do you know him?"
    I glance at him again trying to see if I've met him.  "No," I say with utter confusion.  "Is Anthony here?"
    "Nope," and Clara disappears into the sea of customers.
    My eyes flick towards the stranger and I see him coming over.  I'm instantly tense and for some reason start looking at my nails like there's something wrong with them.
    "Hi," he says awkwardly.
    "Hello," I smile.  "Do you need my help with choosing anything?"
    He coughs and starts adjusting his jacket as if he's nervous.  "Umm...no.  I came here to see you," his brown eyes intensify as he looks at me.  "I'm friends with Ant," he clarifies.
    "Oh, ok..."
    "We came by to see if you were here but he had to go and meet up with his girlfriend,"
    My stomach loops into a tight ball and I feel like I'm in severe pain.  Looks like they're still together.
    "Anyway, he came by to invite you to a party we're having tonight.  He explained that the two of you are good friends?"
    "Umm, yes, we're good friends,"  only a half lie I suppose.
    "It's a joint birthday party," he smiles.  Clara was right.  He really is dishy!  "I'd love you to be there.  I mean, Anthony would love you to be there"
    "I will try my best then," I smile at him, accept the crisp white invitation and fidget with it as it remains in my hands.  He should really leave now, but he hasn't and it's getting difficult to know what to talk about.
    "So, I shall be there tonight at 8," I say, trying to get him out of the door.
    "See you later.  Oh, I'm Jens by the way" he says, and backs himself outside, still looking at me until he's a good distance away.
    "I think he likes you.  He's been leering like a right perv," Clara has somehow appeared out of nowhere.  I jump in fright at the sound of her voice.
    I look down at the invitation.  My thumb starts to gently move across Anthony's name.  Clara notices and snatches it from my hand.  "Are we going to a party?"
    "No!"  I snap, taking it away from her paws again.  "I'm going to a party.  I don't know where you're going,"
    "You're no fun sometimes,"  and she goes away again in a strop.
    I gaze out into the High Street somehow thinking that Anthony will appear out of nowhere, but then remind my brain of the new me.
    A woman approaches me with one of our coats in her hand.  I'd say she's in her mid-fifties with a blonde perm, and bad make-up.  She's about to ask if we sell that coat in a larger size, but before she even gets the chance to speak, I announce,
    "I do not like Anthony,"
    "OK, dear," she replies, puts the coat down and probably tells herself that this store isn't for her on the way out.

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