Editor's Note: This 5-part installment is part of MANA's Short Story Series on the MANA Sunriser Blog. MANA's Short Story Series is a “throwback” to the days when print newspapers and magazines published short stories that appeared as a series. MANA has brought serials back to public life! We hope you enjoy this five-part series.
|Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay |
Thrift shopping was Claire's favorite pastime. She considered herself quite the fashionista and always loved to always search for statement pieces for her wardrobe.
On a cold, Sunday afternoon, she tried on her newest find, a lovely tweed jacket with glitter in the tweed. She only imagined the interesting life of the independent businesswomen who owned it before her.
While she looked in the mirror, she slid her hand in the left pocket. Feeling paper in the pocket, her face turns to a look of disgust assuming someone left a Kleenex in the pocket.
She pulled out the paper and noticed it was a bright, yellow sticky note with a simple note that said “Call me, 810-555-9823” This was the most interesting item she ever found in a thrift store purchase.
Occasionally she would find kleenex, lint, or a bobby pin but never anything of any meaning. She walked over to the trash can to throw away the note, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it.
So many questions filled her head: who wrote the note; who was it for; and why was the note abandoned in such a cute jacket?
Claire picked up her phone and dialed the number. After several rings, an old woman answered the phone. The woman said, “Hello, this is Bette. Whom am I speaking with?”
Claire replied softly, “Hello, this is Claire. Did you happen to donate a sparkly pink tweed jacket to the thrift shop recently?”
The old woman laughed and said, “As a matter of fact, I did. I’m afraid the jacket is a bit too young for me anymore.”
Claire smiled and said, “Well, I found a note inside that belongs to you. May we meet for coffee tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. so I can return it to you?”
The old woman replied, “Thank you, sweetie, I must have forgotten to clean out the pockets! That sounds wonderful.”
Claire couldn't wait to find out more about the previous owner of the jacket and the mysterious note.
Claire walked by the shop window wearing her eye-catching new jacket. She walked into the shop and spotted a fashionable older woman chatting with a barista who was filing her coffee cup.
Bette’s laugh filled the room. People around could not help but laugh with her. Claire had never heard such a laugh. Bette's laugh was so infectious, it made Claire smile from ear to ear.
Bette turned her head and waved to Claire. “I’d recognize my jacket anywhere. It looks as great on you as it used to on me! Come take a seat.”
Claire took a closer look at the older woman. Claire could see the kindness in Bette's eyes, and her laugh liens signaled the joy she just witnessed. Whoever this note was for was certainly missing out, Claire thought.
Claire purchased her coffee and sat down with Bette. The two women exchanged pleasantries. Bette cautiously placed her cup down and focused on Claire with great curiosity.
“What’s this you were telling me about a note in my jacket?”
Claire reached in the pocket, pulled out the sticky note, and gently handed it to Bette. After grabbing the note, Bette's eyes started gleaming. Her face formed a slight smile, and her warm chuckle again added warmth to the shop.
Claire cautiously asked, “Who was the note for, if you don't mind me asking?"
Bette's smile widened. She turned her gaze to meet Claire's and said, "You know when you’re the boss, it isn’t so easy to be vulnerable.”
Betted picked up her coffee cup, took a sip, and began telling about how she developed feelings for her assistant, Mark Mathews. “He would also drop little hints that he felt the same, but I just couldn’t tell him I had feelings. It was hard enough for people to take me seriously running the company. Back in those days, women were only secretaries and I had to prove my worth so to speak.”
Bette seemed deep in her thoughts when Claire asked, “But you were planning to tell him. What stopped that?”
Bette ran her fingers around the rim of her cup before speaking. “The day I was going to give him the note, I walked into my office and found his two-week notice. He was offered a better position at a company across town. I kept the note because I figured I’d see him again, but I didn’t.”
The women sat in silence for a moment taking in Bette's story. Claire suddenly had an idea and pulled out her phone. “If I told you we could track down Mark Matthews, would you be a little vulnerable?”
Bette lets out her signature laugh and said, “I’m old now, what else do I have to lose?”
Her laughter makes Claire smile and the girls spend the rest of the morning tracking down Mark Matthews. After several hours, they find him. Bette crafted a message to send him through Claire’s FaceBook page. He replied almost instantly and agreed to meet Bette tomorrow at the coffee shop.
The women left the coffee shop filled with excitement about what the next day would hold.
To be continued
To be continued