It happened last week, when a sunny afternoon beckoned me outdoors. At first, I resisted, but the temptation was too much. Minutes later, chirping birds and the clear blue sky welcomed me as I stepped out the front door.
Shutting the garden gate with a gentle click, I turned and suddenly knocked into my dear friend Mildred. Oops! Her handbag (designer, remember?) fell on the ground.
‘And where are we going in such a hurry?’ she enquired (note the uppity lingo), as she picked up her bag and reached up to smooth her light brown, streaked curls. For with each nod, her curly locks did a defiant bounce on her head, as if in agreement with whatever Fate had planned.
‘To the mall, for a bit of shopping,’ I informed Miss Marples.
‘Ah, you’re going to shop, shop till you drop, eh!’ exclaimed Mildred (or, Sherlock Holmes?), with a knowing wink.
Before I could answer, she’d linked her arm in mine and off we went towards the mall. Together. Sigh.
As expected, the mall was packed with people. It was manic!
There were children, shouting, licking lollies; tattooed teenagers, chatting nineteen to the dozen, whilst grownups strolled by lugging shopping bags galore. Here and there, young mums deftly manoeuvred pushchairs and prams of bonny babies through the throng.
‘I beg your pardon, ma’am!’ cried out a middle-aged, moustached gentleman, indignantly, to Mildred. She’d nearly tripped over his walking stick. Poor man.
Apologetic, she smiled at him. But, it was a rigid, icy smile. Brr.
We ambled along, pausing at a jewellers for Mildred to admire an emerald and diamond necklace.
And, finally, ended up at a dress shop. The boutique had quite a selection of trendy wear, and we looked through the racks, picking out items of interest.
As we walked around the shop we noticed litter on the parquet flooring. Mildred wrinkled up her nose, and, sporting a disgusted look, she whispered, ‘How filthy!’
We were careful not to step on those scrappy white clumps. ‘Yuk!’ I heard Mildred, mumbling and grumbling, muttering at how absolutely dirty the place was.
And, we saw the sales assistant surreptitiously kick the ‘yucky stuff’ underneath the rack; and then watched her follow the trail—to find its source, no doubt. In bewilderment, she zigzagged between the clothes’ racks, endeavouring to put an end to the mystery.
I turned to speak to Mildred. But she had disappeared. She was nowhere to be seen. Poof! As if she’d vanished into thin air.
At last I caught sight of her. She was stood outside the shop, peering through the window, and gesturing, wildly. Indeed, she seemed frantic, in a right tizzy. She waved her hand, up and down, down and up, as if demanding I go out to her. So, out I went.
‘Do you know what that yucky stuff was?’ she asked me in a hushed tone, her eyes darting back and forth, whilst wringing her hands, nervously.
To be honest, she was behaving rather like Lady Macbeth. Intrigued, I scanned her guilt-ridden face for clues. At that moment I really was afraid of her.
Puzzled (and a wee bit apprehensive), I replied, ‘No.’
‘My shoes!’ she wailed. ‘I paid an arm and a leg, and now look at them!’
Look at them, I did.
Good grief! The heels had all but crumbled. Ah, mystery finally solved—the so called ‘awful stuff’ was the mortal remains of dear Mildred’s cork heels. Ha-ha. I smothered my giggles and guffaws.
I daren’t laugh. Not even a flicker of smile? No way!
I mustered up all my strength to remain serious and empathetic whilst I helped the poor dear safely out through a side exit…leaving behind, bits of cork, and a mystery for others to unravel.
Homeward bound, and with each step, my dear darling Mildred became shorter and shorter.
But, shush, mum’s the word.