He was confused.
He understood that it was wrong to stalk women, to rape them, not to accept No for a final answer. Things like that weren’t just illegal, they were plain wrong. Men usually had too great a physical advantage over women otherwise.
“But I hadn’t, wouldn’t have done any of those things,” he argued to himself.
He didn’t want her to pack in her job over what had happened, but he recognised that he should make it clear that he understood that their relationship was simply as colleagues and that he’d be keeping his mind strictly on business from now on – if she turned in for work.
Even as he sat there, he still squirmed with embarrassment.
He didn’t have a clue what to do – how to atone for what she’d seen; what he’d actually say to her when – if – she turned up for work the next day. Perhaps he should say nothing – hope that it had blown over. On the other hand, he needed to check that she was okay. He’d better play it by ear. He just hoped that she could forgive him. He’d never forgive himself if she were to decide to find another job.
A report to Stacy.
That same night, when she got home from the park, Mel phoned Stacy for an update. Stacy asked Mel how she was, and then told her that she’d started seeing someone regularly – a bloke named Connor who she worked with. Mel asked for further details, but Stacy told her that she’d have to wait. She’d introduce him as soon as an opportunity arose.
‘How about you?’ Stacy asked.
Mel told her firstly about why and how she’d dumped Craig. Stacy was really pleased and told Mel that it was about time.
Then Mel told her about her conversation with Jamie, beginning with what had happened in the shop leading up to it.
Stacy hooted with laughter. ‘I can’t believe that you said all that to him,’
‘You should have seen his face,’ Mel said.
‘Oh!’ Stacy said, wiping her eyes, ‘I’d love to have been a fly on the wall to see that. You’ve surprised me though. That doesn’t sound like the shy Jamie I remember. Is he really coming across as an out-and-out creep then, leering at you all the time?’
‘God, no!’ Mel said, ‘He’s really very nice, but seeing that hard-on worried me, and I thought that he should know the score with me.’
‘And is he then?’ Stacy asked laughing, ‘likely to score?’
‘Wait and see,’ Mel said, also laughing, ‘You’ll have to wait. Anyway, it was you who told me that you used to fancy him yourself.’
The camera shop – Day three and progress
‘Are you all right, Mel? You look a bit peaky.’ Lucy asked. She looked concerned.
‘Sorry, Lucy,’ Mel replied. ‘I dumped my boyfriend last night after a row and didn’t sleep very well. I’ll cheer up – I promise. I won’t let it interfere with my work.’
‘I’m sure you won’t, love. I do understand. From what you told me of him, he didn’t deserve you. Now, we all go through moments like this – but we get over them. Do you want to talk about it?’
‘That’s lovely of you, Lucy – but no. If I get time, I’d like to ask Jamie a couple of questions about mirrorless cameras.’
‘Well listen. Before you go back to Jamie, while we’ve got a couple of minutes, can I ask you a couple of questions?’
Mel, wondering what was going to be asked, nevertheless agreed immediately.
‘Tony brought your portfolio home last night – you can take it home again tonight. We were all very impressed with the quality of your body of work. Outstanding, Mel. There were a couple in particular that I’d like to ask you about if you don’t mind.’
She led Mel back to the counter and pulled the portfolio out from below it. They spent about five minutes talking about the selected photos. From what Lucy said, Tony was going to approach her about displaying a couple of the images in the shop’s gallery. According to Lucy, Tony would want to discuss the possibility of selling some numbered, copies through the gallery if Mel were agreeable. Lucy asked Mel to take some time to think about it before Tony asked.
Mel was overcome. She really appreciated the opportunity. She said that, for her as a photographer, having your work chosen to be displayed in an exhibition was a large part of what it was all about.
Mel told Lucy that, since leaving university, she’d often submitted photos and articles to several photography print magazines. A few had been accepted and she’d earned fees for those that had been published. She’d also won some local contests and had those photos displayed in the local Museum. One of her hopes was that, one day, she’d be able to get offered a chance to mount an exhibition.
‘There’ll be no holding you back then, Mel,’ Lucy said, ‘You won’t want to work here when you’re famous.’
‘Lucy, fame doesn’t pay bills. I can’t live with mum and dad forever. Even if I were to win a few major awards – unlikely, I know – it wouldn’t provide the security of a regular salary. This job will enable me to keep my feet on the ground – if you can excuse me asking for a day off work every now and then. It would always bring publicity for the shop too, you know.’
‘Well, this only your third day, love. Let’s see how you get on once you’ve worked here a bit longer.’
The photo that I’ve chosen today is the fourth of this series of nine that I’ll be posting in the next few days. There won’t be much changed between them – the idea was to capture the change in the light during the period that the Sun was setting.
I shot all but one of the photos in this series on 22 April this year, while I was stood on the pier at Southport, Merseyside waiting for the Sun to set. You wouldn’t believe it from the photos, but it was high tide around the time I was there. Southport beach seem to stretch out forever and seldom seems to come all the way in. Today’s image shows the Sun a little lower in the sky, and an autogyro or powered paraglider can be seen.
The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used for all the shots was my 36 MP Pentax K-1 full-frame camera paired with a Pentax 24-70 mm f/2.8 full-frame lens. In every case the ISO was 100. All shots were handheld and used only natural light. I post-processed all the shots in Lightroom.
For this shot the shutter speed was 1/80 secs @ f/16 and 31 mm.