Flinging yourself down and onto a chair tucked beneath a table, you sigh. Mini had snatched your cloth and was working away at the grime on the work tops, Sam was busy cooking, Charley and Gareth had left and you were by yourself.
You drag your eyes from a small yellow stain clinging to the surface, and find yourself looking at the new girl yet again. She had been dancing her way around the café all day. Taking an order from this person, an order from that, whisking herself away to the kitchen and re-appearing almost instantly with the meal and a wide smile. Next came the persuasion of that extra coffee, or green tea, and a little sugar biscuit on the side. A large tip later, the customer is gone full and happy.
As she moves, she keeps the little notes peeking out, the green tips shooting their small heads out. You swear she does it to torment you, to mock you that she’s doing so much better. Heck, she got a smile out of Aanon! He’s always wearing a frown, yet today he swapped for this sly grin.
In fact, she had made everyone smile, and done every job in the café. Not once did she scowl or moan or look un-happy. Always smiley and joyful and happy. Although, by doing all the jobs, you’d barely done anything today. It gave you time to think, but sometimes thinking wasn’t good. Thinking meant you could think about things like home, or Dad, or running away. Thoughts you swore you would try to forget.
“Stop it.” A voice comes washing over your shoulders, feminine with layers of huskiness, order and desperateness. You turn your head, expecting some new customer demanding you to take their order. Instead you find the new girl.
“Huh?” you ask rudely, turning back round so you’re no longer facing her. She stomps round the side of you and draws the chair opposite, flopping down in anything but an elegant manner.
“I said stop it!” she snaps, pouting a little and you can tell she’s stamping her foot on the floor silently. The red tinge of her lips doesn’t fully cover the surface, and the inner section of her lips are a soft pink. You pick that up.
Then again, you always pick small things up. Useless, yet interesting, things that get stuck in your brain. Like the fact that currently, the girl smells of jasmine and lavender. With hints of rose.
“If this is about me taking drugs in the storage room, shut your mouth,” you say, trying to sound serious. You bend over the table so you can see the small specks of gold flaking the green of her eyes, and give her a slightly vicious stare. Why can’t you joke around? If she’s nice, she can take a bit of humour.
“Flipping hell, I’m working with a druggie!” she gasps, eyes wide, then leaning back and slapping a hand to her forehead. You see her nails are painted a candy floss pink, with small white polka dots. A pretty design, clearly done by herself.
“I’m joking, I’m not a drug addict!” you laugh, bending out of your hunched position and arching back against the chair. You see her face change with realisation.
“But what am I stopping?” you question. She sits up a little straighter, crosses her legs, then her arms.
“You still seem a little coo-coo to me, but will you stop ignoring me already?” You frown at the first part, then wince at the second. She knows.
All day you had tried to ignore her. Slip past without a word, or a look, although the looking idea went out the window. You couldn’t help it! Her pastel blue tresses attracted your eyes which then lead to you taking in her clothes. Red top, no straps, just a top that circled round her collar bones with sleeves that came just below her armpit. Then shorts, white laced edges and faded blue fabric, with brown boots that had a block heel on the end. A black cross necklace, dangling against her chest, and rows of bracelets travelling up her arm in a variety of different colours. How could anyone ignore that?
Despite looking at her you had managed to ignore her as much as you could. Every time she cleaned the work-top and got near you, you’d scamper away to clean a table. When you were prepping lettuce and she prepped her onion next to you, you took your chopped up pieces of leaves in handfuls and moved to another bench. You really didn’t want to talk to her, but right now, she had you cornered.
“I’m not ignoring you,” you say but you can’t look her in the eye and she just lets out a small, agitated laugh.
“Pah-lease. Cleaning a different table? Moving your lettuce? Never speaking to me? It’s so obvious. Heck, the first thing you said to me was that you were a drug addict!” You hear a distinct growl in her voice, the sound of impatience and annoyance.
“Actually the first thing I said to you was ‘huh’,” you retort smartly.
“Stop acting so smart and quit ignoring me already!” She shoots you a venomous glare and waits for answer.
“Fine,” you say eventually. Her face brightens into a smile.
“Just as long as you stop whining.”
“I’m not whining!” she whined, then stopped and looked a little guilty.
“Okay, so what if I’m whining a bit? You’re the one ignoring me all day! Look, I know you have a girlfriend but I’m not gonna flirt with you or anything.” Girlfriend? You have a girlfriend? Surely you’d know if you did and who it was.
“Girlfriend?” you ask in disbelief, head forwards, eyes wide. The girl nods.
“Yeah, the one you kept talking to? Hacked top? Loadsa make-up? Wolfs down salad like a maniac?” You wrack your brain, then release who she means.
“Charley?” you laugh, throwing yourself back in your seat, howling. Charley? And you? She thought! No. Ha! Why would she think? No. Never! Your friends. Right?
“Yeah, that Charley girl!”
“We aren’t dating,” you say and she raises her eyebrows.
“Sure. Sure. Whatever you say,” she says, her voice dripping with sarcasm and mockery.
“We aren’t dating!” you yell, your voice bouncing off the walls loudly. It’s as if everything stops and falls silent. The sound of bubbling saucepans, chopping knifes, even the sound of the wind outside stops. She smirks and sound slowly comes back. The whirr of the radiator, the sound of Aanon’s newspaper, the grating of carrot.
“I believe you, Jeez. Calm down…” she looks at me as if to say your name?
“Regan,” you say. She tells you her name is Myra, and you remember that’s what Sam said when she first walked into the door.
Myra sticks out her hand, letting it hover over the table. You go to shake it, but her palm is facing down towards the table.
“Kiss it!” she orders. You push her hand away to which she tuts a little.
“I don’t kiss on first meets.”
“It’s first dates,” she comments.
“I know, but this isn’t a date Myra.” You like her name. It rolls around in your mouth like a piece of chocolate; smooth and easy.
“Your name’s pretty.”
“Thank you,” she smiles. You see her cheeks turn a slight shade of pink, and a small dusting of freckles begins to show.
“It’s Greek. From the town of Lycia. Beautiful place, you should visit some time.” Her eyes sparkle, like a glinting star, lighting up the dots of gold.
“You’re Greek?” you ask in amazement. It’s very rare that anyone from another place comes in. We had someone from Scotland, but never from somewhere far away.
“I went there on holiday. It was the place of my parent’s honeymoon. We stayed in this villa amongst this huge complex. Best time I’ve ever had. Oh, if I could live there.” Her eyes gleam, and she looks over to the side as if she’s trying to see this wondrous holiday destination.
You try to imagine a holiday in Greece. Staying at a complex like she did, with a beautiful, air-conditioned villa furnished with pretty furniture. Lying on a deck chair in the blaring sun, watching your brother cannonball into the aqua pool, splashing other sun-bathing tourists. Your sister on top of the diving board, diving in with her patterned bikini, batting her eyes at Greek boys. Dad at the bar, ordering an ice cold beer for himself and some exotic cocktail for your Mum whose busy lounging next to you, gossip magazine and sunglasses at the ready. Making friends with some new-found, English speaking friends.
Sauntering down to some little restaurant on the beach with them and your family, running around on the sand, and letting the grains fill the gaps in your toes. Watching the sea lap over your feet, sinking into the wet sand and running off with sticky feet. Munching on sea food; calamari, prawns, crab. Ordering several rounds of ice cream and getting hyper, running in between the boats left docked on rocks with your friends, laughing loud. Seeing your parents slowly order more and more alcohol, getting tipsier as the night progresses. Posing for endless pictures, pretending to hold the moon and the stars. Failing to get artistic pictures of the waves, or the sky. Then staggering back off home, flip flops slapping the heels of your sore feet, and coming back to a good night sleep.
Buying inflatables and fizzy drinks from stalls at the back of the beach, floating away in the ocean, chucking beach balls all around and playing tennis on the sand with thick plastic racquets. Getting more ice cream, ordering strawberry slushes and then travelling down to a nearby market. Trying Greek food like feta, hummus, pita bread, lamb koftas and tzatziki. Feeling the fabrics hung up for sale, breathing in the smells of the warm air, buying expensive toys that break easily.
Then you have to remember you have none of this. No brother or sister. No Dad and just an angry, depressed Mum. You can’t afford a holiday to Greece, you can’t afford to go out to a restaurant!
“What’s stopping you?” you ask.
“Life,” she replies and sighs. Her pocket vibrates, shaking the fabric.
“Well, my shifts over. Better go. Say bye to Sam for me.” She pushes away her chair, standing up and begins to stride over to the door.
“What about me?” you ask. She smiles a little.
“Bye Regan,” she says and walks away, banging the door open. I watch her leave, admiring the way she leans from left to right, moving her hips. The wind howls, scratching its claws on the window. Myra turns back, waggles her fingers, and then lets the screaming wind take her away.