So despite all the preaching her mom has done on modesty growing up, she sets out to purchase the perfect swimsuit. But that means getting a job and going behind her parents' back. It'll be worth it, she thinks.
In this scene, she decides to apply at the hardware store. After all, how hard can it be?
I hate swim parties. Hate with a capital “h”. Because every time I’m invited I know my mom will make me wear that florescent orange thing that all but covers my eyes. My friends either laugh at me or give me pity, and I want neither one. So when Megan Dairy invited me to her beach party I determined this year I’d be in style. Some way. Somehow.
But I’d have to be stealthy to pull it off, and that meant telling a little white lie. I didn’t condone lying, frowned on it, in fact, but in the face of becoming the world’s biggest fool, a lie seemed the best way to go. Therefore, I ignored the voice in my head saying this was wrong and set out to acquire the perfect bikini.
It had to be a bikini because that’s what the other girls would wear, though the speech I’d heard my entire life echoed in my head along with the Scripture that accompanied it. The one about women and modest apparel. But I didn’t get that. How could what’s immodest for me not be immodest for Megan? Her mom didn’t care. Her mom bought her a new one every year and they were always little and tight and revealing. I simply wanted something in two pieces that’d show off my belly button. And maybe a little cleavage. Just enough to make Roger Keen look my way.
Roger Keen. The very thought of him made me swoon. Tall, dark, and handsome with crystalline blue eyes, he was my romantic ideal. Of course, currently, he didn’t look at me any different from the fence post. Yet I was going to change that, and having the right bikini was key.
However, this presented an additional problem. To buy the right bikini I needed cash, and I decided the right way to come up with that was not by asking my mom for it because that would add stealing on top of lying. No way was I stealing. That’d send the flames of hell burning the soles of my feet, and I was not living with that.
Which meant I’d have to earn it. Currently, I didn’t have a job. I’d lazed about since graduation mostly warming the couch and the keys of my computer, much to my parents chagrin, and developed every excuse in the book for my unemployment. Too early. Too hard. Too far. No transportation. I heard they don’t pay much. I can’t possibly do that. All legitimate reasons that I must lay aside for the sake of the right swimsuit.
It’d be worth it. I was sure. So I set out one afternoon determined to find employment, something light and easy, something I could quit once I’d made my first paycheck, and wandered in and out of every clothing store on the strip until I ended up in front of the shop at the end. The hardware store.
Hardware. I stood there contemplating the fact I was a girl and this was a man’s world, the fact I didn’t fit in, then sucked in my gut and opened the door. How hard could it be to sell nuts and bolts? I wasn’t dumb, so what I didn’t know I could learn. Plus, there was a help wanted sign on the window glass. This was a positive and more hope than I’d gotten at the other twelve places.
I wound my way down the narrow, disorganized aisles to a glass counter in the back and rang a small hand bell beside the cash register. Two well-used swinging doors flapped open and a man in his sixties appeared.
“May I help you?”
He had a kind face like my grandpa, lined and wrinkled with a rather pointy nose and piercing gray eyes.
“I saw your sign. About the job?” I asked.
He seemed to contemplate that, looking me over. “Any experience?”
Well, now, the answer was no. But I’d already discovered saying no got me no-where.
“Sure,” I said. “But it depends on what experiences you’re talking about.”
This made him chuckle. He shook his head and wiped a knuckle down his nose. “Spunk. I like that,” he said. “You any good at organizing?”
“I’m female ain’t I?”
Again, he laughed.
“Plus,” I added. “I’ll work for peanuts.”
This was apparently the right thing to say because he extended his hand. “What’s your name, little girl?”
“Coralee,” I replied. “Coralee Pirtle.”
“Pirtle the Turtle?” came a voice from the back.
Oh, I saw red. I knew that voice, had heard it since second grade, the first class we’d had together, and no way was he working here, too. But no sooner had I thought that then the same two doors swung wide, and there he stood.
I narrowed my gaze. “Roman Avery.”
He grinned and strode over to me. “Pirtle the Turtle. I thought you were …”
Hauling back my fist, I let it fly, the inner part of me glorying in the smack of my knuckles against his cheek, the slight crunch of his nose, and the fountain of blood that sprayed across the counter all over my shirt.
Roman bowed over, clutching his face, a string of curse words flying, and the old man behind the counter pinched hold of his ear and twisted it into a coil. This sent Roman squealing like a pig. “Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. I’m sorry, Grandpa. I didn’t mean it, but she punched me. Honest, it was just a gut reaction.”
Grandpa? I stared at him my eyes wide, my fingers smarting from my swing, and watched my career in hardware go up in smoke. I’d blown it this time and blown it big. Never mind, I was still happy to have punched Roman Avery. I’d punched Roman Avery in front of his Grandpa.
I gulped and wiped my now sweaty palm on my black slacks. “I guess I should go,” I said. Go and quick and never come back in here before I get sued or arrested or something.
Grandpa Avery, his fingers still clutching Roman’s ear, turned his gaze my way. “Are you kidding?” he asked. “After that, you’re hired. Welcome to the family, Coralee.”
------------------------------Suzanne D. Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.