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 were 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.’
During a mid-morning gap in business, Jamie said that he was made-up that she’d come in that morning and asked her if she was okay after their discussion. She said that she was fine. Reassured, he told her about evening presentations that the shop occasionally offered new customers – usually customers who were quite new to modern cameras. These evenings – free of charge – were used to help those customers to get to know their new cameras better so that they’d get the most value from them. He asked Mel would she like to attend one – initially to become familiar with the format of the meetings, but eventually to do the presentation herself.
He explained that she’d be paid overtime and that there was no compulsion. Mel quickly realised that this would be a great opportunity for her personal career development and she agreed readily. He told her that they sometimes hosted presentations for regular customers – these were presented by people like ‘brand managers’ to promote new product lines. Again, there was no pressure, but Mel would be welcome to come to any that she might be interested in to boost her own product knowledge. From what Jamie said, it was clear that it would be stupid of her not to take advantage of such chances.
It didn’t take many weeks after that for Mel to become totally settled in her new job. The shop became like a second home and the Hannays like a second family. Her confidence was at an all-time high. There had only been one unsettling incident.
A blast from the past
One morning, a few weeks later, as she’d been just finishing a conversation with a customer, Mel heard the doormat alarm sound. She glanced towards the door and, out of the corner of her eye, she saw Craig entering the shop. She felt bile rise in her throat and her whole body seemed to tingle with alarm.
“Oh, God!” she thought, “What does Craig want?”
Her attention was split two ways. She didn’t want the customer to feel that she wasn’t giving him her full attention but she was worried sick that Craig had come to start trouble.
Although she was facing away from him, she could see Craig’s reflection over the customer’s shoulder in her peripheral vision. Jamie had approached him, but Craig had shaken his head and walked towards a carousel display of accessories.
The customer left, waving Mel goodbye, only a few minutes later. Mel walked straight to the counter and, turning her back to Craig, told Lucy, in a whisper, who Craig was. She said that she’d try to get rid of him as discreetly as she could but said that she was worried he might try to cause trouble.
Lucy assured her that she was not to worry. She said that she would alert Jamie to be ready to deal with any trouble.
As Mel walked towards him, Craig turned to her and smiled.
‘So this is where you work? See, I’m taking an interest.’
‘Please take your interest somewhere else, Craig. I’m working. I don’t know why you’re here but this is neither the time nor the place.’
Craig reached for her arm, but Mel pulled it out of his reach.
‘Just go, Craig.’
Again he tried to grab her arm, but this time, Jamie was by her side.
‘Is everything all right, Miss Harrington?’ he asked. Jamie was at least two inches taller than Craig, and although Jamie’s mouth was smiling at Craig as he spoke to Mel, his eyes were icy cold. Craig shifted uneasily in his feet. He looked from Mel to Jamie and seemed to realise that he wasn’t going to gain anything by staying, so he turned and left. His attempt to slam the shop door behind him failed because of the device on the door that curtailed its acceleration.
‘Jamie,’ she said, ‘thank you so much. Did your mum explain?’
‘Yes, she did, and he did look as if he was about to start a scene,’ Jamie said, ‘You did the right thing to warn us.’
‘I’m so sorry.’ she said, ‘I didn’t want my private life being brought inside the shop and upsetting either you or our customers.’
‘I can see that,’ Jamie assured her, ‘Don’t worry about it. It wasn’t your fault. Is he likely to bother you when you finish here? Do you want a lift home?’
She smiled at him.
‘Thanks, Jamie,’ she said, ‘but I’ll be all right. I have a friend in the police who is aware of the situation – and Jack, my brother is a hulking great prop-forward.‘
‘Really?’ he asked, ‘Who does he play for?’
She named the local rugby league team and Jamie said that he’d heard a lot about him – all good.
Lucy came across.
‘You’re trembling, love,’ she said, ‘Go in the back room. Sit down for a few minutes until you feel better. I’ll make you a cup of tea. We’re not busy.’
Mel told her that she’d be fine in a minute and thanked her and Jamie for their thoughtfulness. As she’d promised, Mel was soon back to her normal self, but she’d decided to tell Jack what had happened anyway – and Stacy.
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 is one that I’d forgotten about – again from the beach, showing the Sun a little lower in the sky, with a sunburst effect.
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 1/20 secs @ f/16 and 33 mm.