Welcome to a new, occasional contributor. This is a short story inspired by a sign in a Limerick shop window.
Browsing in a boutique, you feel a tap on your shoulder. The proprietor whispers ‘ your husband called… he said you can buy anything you want’.
The wrongness echoes in your ears. It takes some time to sink in because you’re single, own your own company and live in the 21st century.
Looking around, as he swaggers off, you see his staff giggle. Its not the first time that line has been rolled out. Its usually gets a laugh. Isn’t that why he printed it out and stuck on the boutique window himself?
But you’re not laughing as you fall in step and return the tap. ‘Excuse me, but, what did you just say to me’?
There seems to be genuine confusion. ‘Sorry love?’
‘Sorry? Why would my husband call, and what for again?’
Both staff now look nervous. This is not the tone used around here. Not in this boutique. This is the fashion district in Limerick City. Doesn’t she know this? They look at each other, their thoughts the same ‘ I don’t know her either’.
Sensing the reaction of the staff, the boss stares. Quickly they become busy straightening shop things on the counter, two faces reddened from a chastising scowl.
Shark smiling, his priority becomes face- saving. Is he obliged to answer some sort of a customer who seems vaguely familiar?
‘ Well now…’ he nearly says ‘love’ but stops this time.
You match the smile but are not in any mood to be blindsided by the vaguest of platitudes, nor are you angry enough to be provoked. You are relaxed enough to repeat the question which hangs in the room alongside clothes you will never buy.
The boss is silent neither smiling nor frowning, heels rocking, ignoring his swinging arms and sweating palms as, hiding her mobile, one of the staff begins to dial the shop phone. It rings and allows the boss to raise a ‘just one second love’ finger to you. The staff smile at each other relishing the drama of this cute call.
As always the day is too short for this carry on. You start to leave but not before catching the eye of the staff member who didn’t think to throw the lifebuoy to the shop phone. She doesn’t appear happy.
The boss slowly puts down his phone. He is aware that you are now outside with your phone raised to photograph the printout on the window.
Later, before the monthly City Council meeting, a colleague reminds you about an upcoming event to promote plans for the Limerick fashion district.
You look at the picture in your phone and wonder, if you were married would your husband be the type of person who would call a boutique on your behalf?