Prompt: Word of the Day*
Envy, in the junk shop looking for grape scissors, spotted the oddly exotic wooden candelabra and asked Chester what it was.
“It’s for Kwanzaa,” Chester told her. “You know, celebration time if you don’t do Christmas.” Chester had not yet taken down the shop holiday decorations: the flashing red and green fairy lights above the cashier, the tree decorated with white and blue baubles, and the sinister mechanical Santa that posed menacingly on the counter top.
She felt drawn to the kinara, but she’d felt drawn to inanimate objects with mysterious pasts for some time now, and with her frequent visits to his shop she and Chester had become ineluctably friendly. She knew he lived with his mother and that their relationship was amiable, he was allergic to cats, he loved modern classical music, and had an aversion to barbers.
He however, knew very little about Envy, except that she was a plain little thing, wore an engagement ring, paid full price for items he was fully willing to be bargained down on, and was constantly in search of something. She didn’t seem like the “I’ll know it when I see it” type. She was too precise, too serious. He’d seen the facade drop only once and noted that it was as fragile as the antique glass balls on his artificial Christmas tree— in danger of shattering into a million irreparable pieces with only a slight jog. In Envy’s case, when Chester told her the old joke about Santa’s reindeer when she came in just at closing on Christmas Eve. She’d laughed like a delighted toddler.
There was a strange cathexis about her, for sure. Her deportment was hesitant but eager, reserved but outward-looking, shy but not cowed. He was half-tempted to pursue his relationship with her, even as friends, but his epiphanic discovery that he cared more about objects than people steered him clear of following that irresponsible instinct.
In any case any desire to spend more time with her shattered like the aforementioned glass ball when her fiancé entered the shop.
“Envy!” Was she deaf? “I’ve been looking all over for you. It’s on, our party is on, I got the Midsomer Room and they have Chilean sea bass!”
She looked like a Chilean sea bass, caught in a net. “They have it?”
“Well, they can order it. But we have to confirm by tomorrow.” He grinned. “C’mere!” and before she could move closer he had picked her up in his broad embrace and pulled her off the floor. “Can’t wait, babe!”
Envy’s scowl dissipated somewhat as she was mercilessly adored, but the wariness around her eyes remained.
“Chester,” she said when she was released. “This is Bob.”
“I’d inferred that,” said Chester pleasantly. “So Envy, did you find what you were looking for?”
She sighed inaudibly. “No, not yet,” she said. “Keep an eye out for me, will you?”
“I surely will,” said Chester. “Nice to meet you, Bob.”
“You too,” said Bob. He suddenly pulled out a business card and scribbled something on its back. “By the way, here’s the number of my barber— a great guy! and reasonable too.”
“Thank you,” said Chester, taking the card and dropping it into the wastebasket behind the counter, out of sight of Bob and Envy.
As they opened the door and let a gust of cold wind rattle the interior of the shop, Chester could hear Envy whispering, “Yes, it’s better, but still…!”
*courtesy of a Word of the Day calendar gift that I just opened.