A Scottish Romance
Today is starting out just as every other day. Mr. Parson comes for his morning tea. Ann having heard I had a visit from the now famous McGregor comes to pump me for information. I tell her very little, although I do show her his grocery list. I wouldn’t put it past her if she memorized every single item. Dissatisfied with my lack of cooperation she leaves in a huff. The tea shipment arrives about nine. I direct the delivery man where to stack the boxes. The rest of the morning I spend pricing and shelving the tea.
“Could you have lunch with an old, forgotten friend, Kathy?” Megan came in carying a small, red rosebud.
“Your not old and certainly not forgotten. In fact if I’m mistaken your the one that has forgotten me.” I haven’t seen Megan in over a week which is unusual sense we talk or see each other at least everyday. She does have a good excuse because she and Henry just bought their first house and have been busy moving in.
“I know and I’m sorry. I brought a peace offering.” She holds out the rose giving me her sad puppy eyes. Last June Megan married Henry McMullen, the love of her life. She moved out of our flat leaving me to live in Woodland Place on my own. Without her share of the rent I was forced to move downstairs to a one bedroom flat. Henry, who graduated from University, came back to Campbelltown to work under his dad as a solicitor. Megan works in her mothers flower shop and will someday take it over when her mother retires. I take the rose holding it up so I could smell it’s wonderful scent.
“Does this mean you forgive and will have lunch with us?”
I look over at Mary standing behind the counter raising my eyebrows in question. She nods giving her approval. “Of course it does, Meg. Where should we go?”
“How about the cafe?”
“Sounds lovely.” Mary hands me my coat from behind the counter. “Can I bring you anything, Mary.”
“Oh, no. You two lasses go have a jolly time and don’t worry about me. I might close up and have lunch at the pub.”
‘Mary, you naughty girl.” I say in a joking way.
At the cafe Megan and I choose a table by the front window looking out at Main Street.
“Alright, out with it.” She says after the waiter takes our order.
“Out with what?” I ask taking a sip of my ice water.
“What is the Mr. McGregor like? Ann told me you met him yesterday.”
“Lord, does that woman get around.” I slump back into my chair rolling my eyes up to the ceiling.
“Well?” Megan leans forward on the table waiting for me to speak.
“He’s kind of hard to describe.”
“What does he look like then?”
I smile visioning James. I can see his soft, brown hair, bewitching eyes and fuzzy beard.
“Oh, he’s that sort of man is he?”
“What sort?” I ask not knowing what she is getting at.
My smile grows even bigger. “Yes he is.”
“Describe, I want all the details.”
I draw in a deep breath letting it out slowly. “He has longish, brown hair and brown eyes that you could get lost in. He has a beard, actually it’s somewhere in the middle of a five o’clock shadow and a short beard. Would you like to know what he smells like?”
Megan’s eyes double in size. “You got close enough to smell him?”
I bite my bottom lip trying not to laugh. “Sandalwood and ciggies. That’s what he smells like.” I debate over whether or not I should tell her about the dance we shared as the waiter sets down our plates. Somehow it seemes to sacred. Like it would all go away if I tell her. “We shared a dance together.” Hey, I have to tell someone or I’m going to explode. I wait for Megan to compose herself from almost choking to death on her coke.
“You danced with him? How, why, when?”
I explain the whole situation to her. How he took my hand without asking, how he felt and how the music was the perfect backdrop. “It was like a scene from a movie.”
“You have to be the luckiest woman in the world, Kathleen Caldwell. Does he have a first name this Mr.McGregor?”
“James, James McGregor.” It feels great to be saying his name out loud.
“You fancy him don’t you. Oooo, you do! Your face is all red.”
Of course I do who wouldn’t.
It’s nearly three o’clock and James still hasn’t showed up. Every time I hear the door open my heart quickens it’s pace. I’ve all but given up hope. I bag my current customer’s groceries and bid them farewell. In three more hours we will close up the shop and I’ll head to my empty flat. Megan will go home to Henry. Oh, how I wish I had someone to go home to, someone to love. Everyone thinks I like living alone and most of the time I do, it’s times like these that I hate. That old feeling of loneliness comes and I dread eating another supper at home alone. It’s no use to go to a resturante, then I’d just have to eat alone in front of everyone. At least at home I get to do it in priviate. Maybe I should think about getting a dog. Some cute little cuddly thing to talk to.
“What, no dancing today? Oh that’s right you only do on Wenesdays.” James says as he walks towards me.
Again he snicks up on me. How does he keep doing that? I lift a finger up to my lips. “Ssshhh, Mary will hear you. You don’t want to get me in trouble do you?”
“Right, wouldn’t want to do that. I’ve come for me tea”
“Come, I’ll show you where it is.” James follows me over to asile two.
“Hhuumm. . . what’s your favorite?” He asks me looking at the rows of different teas.
“My favorite is the mint tea.” I pick up the box from the shelf and show it to James. I frist tried it because I liked how the front of the box looked. It’s silver with red lettering, at one corner is a sprig of mint leaves.
James ends up getting a box of mint tea along with a box of Earl Grey. I introduce Mary to James as she rings up the items.
“I’m glad to finally met you, Mr. McGregor.” She says.
“And I meeting you. Kathleen here has taken very good care of me. Giving me special attention that I couldn’t find in other stores.” James looks over at me smiling.
Embarresed by knowing what he was talking about I look away from his gaze over to Mary who is giving us a puzzling look. “Yes, she is the best employee I’ve ever had.”
From my view of the outside I can see Ann rounding the corner. “Oh no! Ann’s coming!” I yell startling both Mary and James.
“Who is Ann?” James questions me.
“The town gossip. If she finds you in here she’ll never let you go. She’ll have to find out every little thing about you.”
“I certainly don’t want that. Is there a back way out of here?”
“Yes but it’s to late for that, here she comes. Quick hide behind the counter.” I pull James around the counter. He sits down just as Ann enters the shop. “ ‘ello, Ann. Is there anything I can get you?” I say trying to be as nonchulant as possable.
“I remembered I need a box of biscits. The buttered kind, you know the kind I like, Mary.”
“Of course, I’ll go fetch you a box.” Mary leaves my side walking over to the cookie asile.
“Are you having a good afternoon, Kathy?”
“Yes, it’s such a beautiful day.” I glance down seeing James playing with the feather duster we keep behind the counter. “And how are you?”
“I have been better.” Ann replies.
I jump from feeling something tickling my leg and I reach down to scratch it. “I’m so sorry to hear that, Ann. What is the trouble?”
“The arthritis in me hands is acting up again, can’t hardly bend them.”
“We got a new ontiment you could try, Ann” Mary calls from the other side of the shop.
“Let me see.” Ann moves over to look more closely to the ontiment box.
Again something rubs against my bare legs tickling them. I look down to see James with a big grin across his face brushing the ends of the feathers from the duster across my leg. I kick my foot in his direction giving him a nasty look. He wrinkles his nose at me laying the duster back on the shelve. Mary hands me the box of cookies and ointment to ring up. I lift my left foot up out of its shoe flexing my toes. Ann pays me for her items and I rub the back of my right leg with my left foot. I let out a screech because yet again James is tickling the bottom of my foot, the most ticklish spot on my body.
“Are you all right, darling? You seem to be a bit jumpy today.” Ann asks me.
“I’m fine, Ann. I just keep rubbing up against the feather duster we keep behind the counter.”
“Then by all means move it my child.”
“That would be a good idea.” I bend down facing James removing the duster from his hand. I reach out my hand to slap him on the arm but before my hand reaches his he grabs ahold of my wrist which causes me to lose my balance and tumble forward onto him. I let out a short yell as my body touches his.
“Oh my, Kathy what is going on? Who is this man and why is he sitting on the floor?” I looked over my shoulder to see Ann staring at us with both hands on her hips. I gracefully try to stand up which truns out not to be very graceful because I land on my bum instead. By now I can feel my face turning beet red. James stands up holding out his hand to help me up all the while trying not to laugh.
“What is your name young man?” Ann questions James.
“My name is Tommy Sullivan. I’m a relation to Mary.’ He gives Mary a quick wink.
“A distint relation.” Mary says going along with James’s story.
“What were you doing sitting on the floor?”
I could see James was having a hard time coming up with a story for that question so I decided to save him. “He was looking for the hammer.”
“Yes, the hammer.” He says after me.
“To fix a loose shelf we have.” I continue.,p> “Oh.” I can’t tell if Ann believes us or not. “I think I better be head’n home now.” Ann takes her sack from the counter starting for the door.
“I’ll walk you out, Ann.” The two ladies walk over to the door. “I think you should keep on eye on that young man of yours, Mary.” I hear Ann say before the door closes. In back of me James lets out a loud laugh. I turn around staring at him the way mum would when us kids would get into trouble. It must have worked because he stops laughing. “Don’t ever pull a stunt like that again!” I say emphasizing each word by hitting his arm with my fist.
“Ok, ok.” He lifts his arms up in defense. “I don’t know why your hitting me when your the one that got us both in trouble by falling on me.”
“You were trying to get me to laugh by ticking me legs and feet!” I shouted back not believeing he was trying to put all the blame on me.
“No I wasn’t. I was just playing with the duster and you kept getting in the way. I’ll have you know that I am known for being a perfect gentleman.” He gives me an innocent schoolboy look which I’m sure he’s hand plenty of times to perfect .
“More like a perfect liar.” I say rolling my eyes.
Mary walkes in the store not looking a bit happy. “I kow your a customer Mr. McGregor and I make a point of it to never get angry at a customer, but your behavior was not suitable.”
I nod my head, sticking out my tongue out at James. “See Mary agrees with me.”
Mary went on ignoring my childish behavuor. “Not only did you behave poorly (and yes I did see what you were doing) you made me lie to Ann saying you were a relation of mine. I can promise you Mr.McGregor that if you were a relation of mine I would disown you. Good day to you.” Mary briskly walkes away leaving behind a dumbfounded James.
“Should I apologize to her?”
“No, let her cool off for awhile.” All of the bitterness I felt left my body. How could I be mad at this beautiful man who ginuinely feels sorry for what he did?
I finally get home at five past six and decide to give Megan a ring . I desperatly need someone to talk to, the lonieness flooded my body as soon as I opened my front door.
“ ‘ello,” Henry asnwers the phone.
“Hi, Hen. Can I talk to Meg?”
“How come you always call to talk to her? Don’t you like talking to me?”
“Oh Henry! Of course I like talking to you. I just need to talk to a woman right now.”
“Men do understand things too you know. Now just tell dear old Henry what is troubling you.”
“Well. . .” I pause tring to think of something that would gross him out. “I’m ovolating this week and my breasts are so sore. Do you know any way to relieve the soreness?”
“Oh Kathy, yuck! You win, here’s Meg.”
I let out my high pitch laugh which instantly makes me feel better. I start laughing so hard that tears come to my eyes.
“Meg! Kathy has a woman question that she needs help with!” Henry yells out for Megan to come to the phone. After a few seconds Meg comes on asking,. “What in the world did you ask my husband?”
“I just asked him if he knew anyway to relieve sore breasts. He told me to tell him what was wrong.”
“Did you really call to ask me that?”
“No. I just wanted to gross out Henry.”
“I think you were successful. Why did you really call then?”
“I got lonely. Meg, will my knight in shining armor ever come?”
“Of course he will, luv. He’ll ride up on a white stead, get on one bended knee holding out a perfect diamiond ring and ask you to marry him. Then the two of you will ride off into the sunset to live happly ever after. Just like that fairy tale we used to read when we were wee ones.”
“If only you were right , Meg.” I hug the yellow pillow that I keep on my couch against my body tring to squeeze out the empty feeling deep in my heart. I twist the fringe around my fingers.
“ I am right, Kathy. By the end of this year you will be madly in love with your prince. I promise you.”
“Thank you, I really needed to hear that.”
We both are silent for a moment. I hug the pillow even tighter praying to God that Meg is right.
“I’ve got it!” Megan cries. “Henry’s mate Sean broke up with his girlfriend recently. I can set you up with him.”
I have only met Sean a couple of times and in those two meetings I concluded that I could never fancy this man. He always tells these really croony, annoying jokes and get this, he laughs at his own jokes like they were the funniest things in the world. “I don’t know. I don’t think he’s the knight on the white stead kind of lad.”
“ Maybe your right but If you do change your mind let me know. Would you like to go to the pub with Henry and I tommorrow night?,p> “I’d really like to but I have to go home this weekend. Me big bro Jeffy is bring his girlfriend home. He wants the whole family to be there.”
“Ok, next week then.”
“Thank you, Meg.”
“For listening to my endless dribble about never finding the right man.”
“Don’t worry about it, that’s why I’m here.”
I hang up the phone deciding not to give this loneliness another thought. Instead I make myself a big bowl of soup and write another chapter for the novel I’ve been working on.
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