‘So what has our star salesperson sold you?’ Tony asked.
Brian explained why he’d needed a replacement lens and what Mel had recommended. Tony said that agreed completely with Mel’s suggestion and the two men wandered off talking about equipment.
Jamie looked on, bemused.
‘Your dad’s great,’ he said.
‘That’s probably why I’m so wonderful, ‘ she said, laughing.
Late May – Memories
It was on Thursday afternoon that week when memories of Craig were forced back to the surface. On Thursdays, Mel had a half day off each week. She’d promised to do a supermarket shop for her mum, and was pushing her trolley past the Deli counter when she realised that someone was speaking to her.
She turned and saw that it was Frances Whittaker, Craig’s mum, similarly pushing a part-loaded trolley.
‘Now, Mel,’ she said, ‘It’s been quite a while hasn’t it?’
Mel agreed, unsure of how or what to respond.
‘Craig told us that you wouldn’t be seeing each other but he didn’t say why.’
Mel guessed that this was a fishing expedition.
‘No,’ she said, ‘Things were just not working out between us.’
‘Anyway,’ Frances said, ‘Now that he spends so much of his time abroad, it’s probably as well.’
Mel said nothing – not wanting to indicate any interest.
‘You did know that he passed that course for teaching English to foreign students, didn’t you?’
‘He did say that he’d be doing a postgraduate degree in teaching – to get a job teaching languages,’ she said, ‘but I don’t think that a TEFL course counts as the same thing. Perhaps I’m wrong.’
‘Oh!’ Frances said, ‘he never said anything about a postgraduate degree to us. I wonder why?’
Mel could guess. He’d clearly been lying through his teeth to impress her parents.
‘Well, whatever,’ Frances said, ‘He’s living in Spain at the moment. Do you ever hear from him?’
‘Never,’ she said, ‘but, then again, I don’t expect to. We didn’t part on the best of terms.’
‘I believe that you got a job as a shop assistant,’ Frances half asked, half stated.
‘That’s right,’ Mel agreed.
‘Such a shame that people with degrees can’t get proper jobs, isn’t it?’
‘High unemployment is tough for so many people,’ Mel said, ‘but I love my job now and I feel very lucky.’
It didn’t seem to be the answer Frances was expecting. She made her apologies because she “ had to dash”.
“Hmm!’ Mel thought, “there’s a turn-up for the books.”
She saved the conversation in her mind to relay to her mum and to Stacy. At least she’d nothing to fear from him if he were living in Spain.
On the bus home, memories of Craig that she’d successfully learned to block returned. “How did it get as bad as it had?” she wondered, searching in her mind for clues. “Had he been like that from the start but I just didn’t see it?” She cast her mind back to their first meeting.
Claire, a friend from the time they were in the same class at the comprehensive, had invited Mel to her engagement party. The two had kept in touch throughout their university days – even though they studied different things at different uni’s. Stacy had also been there and they’d had fun catching up with news about their lives. Claire’s fiancé had spent a lot of time at the bar with his friends. Towards the end of the evening, he’d re-joined Claire and had brought one of his friends with him. It had been the first time that she’d met Craig.
Mel re-imagined her recollections of the scene over and over for clues but all she could remember was how much fun he’d seemed. He’d come across as intelligent, charming, good-looking – and he’d been most definitely interested in her. Was that really how he’d been or had she just been too smitten to notice any undertones? If he’d come across initially as he had been at the end, how come she hadn’t noticed? She couldn’t believe that she’d been that stupid, that blind.
The other possibility was the one she decided to believe now – the one that Stacy had spoken of – that Craig’s nature had always been controlling. He’d just made sure that he’d hidden it – kept it under control initially. Bit by bit his true character had revealed itself in so many ways – always correcting her; always demanding her full attention; always wanting the last word; never admitting he was wrong. She now remembered how irritated she’d been at how he’d tried to undermine her self-belief and his attempts to gaslight her. She was so glad that she’d got out of the relationship while she still had some self- confidence, some dignity. She owed Stacy a drink – or several.
In the meantime, she was looking forward to her first driving lesson that evening. She was worried that she was beginning the lessons much later in life than many of her friends had done. She hoped that she wouldn’t make a fool of herself.
A change of scene today. While we’re still in bluebells season, I thought that I’d include a few shots that I took in my local park on 28 April. Today’s photo shows a squirrel jumping down into some bluebells.
I used my Pentax KP 24 MM cropped sensor camera with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5 to 5.6 lens. The EXIF data were shutter speed was 1/15 seconds at f/7.1 and 105 mm. The shot was handheld. I post-processed the shot in Lightroom.