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Kay’s Story (Part Seventeen)

Stop! This is the seventeenth episode!

Looking for the beginning of Kay’s Story?

Will this day ever end? Kay was at her wits end. Tending to a baby and running a store at the same time was proving to be one step away from insanity.  Brian didn’t believe that a store in such a small town needed more than the most basic skeleton of a work crew. That meant that Kay held the position of cashier, bagger, manager, stocker, and customer service all at the same time. Kay dug her fingernails into the palm of her hand as she saw Mrs. Peabody turn the corner and make a beeline straight for her.

Her sharp voice pierced the air with its usual enthusiasm. “Kay, dear, did you know that the pickles aren’t in the right spot?”

“Oh, I’ll take a look Mrs. Peabody. Are they not with the mustard and ketchup?”

“They are indeed, my dear. That’s the problem! Anyone knows that pickles are a canned good and should be with the jam and preserves.” The baby woke with a start at this loud declaration and began to whimper.

Kay took a deep breath and reached down to scoop Destiny out of her carrier. She knew any sort of reasoning, no matter how logical, would be useless. “Mrs. Peabody, Brian decides the location of the merchandise. I merely stock the shelves. If you’d like to speak to him, he should be back in about an hour.”

“I might just do that. Although, I can’t see why you will not just move it yourself. That man would probably never notice.” Without hardly pausing, she switched topics. “That baby shouldn’t be here, you know. Babies can catch all sorts of things being around the public like this. Besides that, mothering can hardly be done properly while working. It just isn’t practical! Mothers should be home, with a good strong man to work for the family’s bread.”

Kay’s temper was bubbling nearer to explosion by the second. Forcing a civil smile, she shifted her now calm baby to the side. “Mrs. Peabody, did you want to buy something?”

“Well now, yes I did. I guess I’d better go fetch my fixings or Mr. Peabody will have a late supper tonight. I’ll be back in a minute.”

Kay rolled her eyes as she kissed Destiny’s forehead and put her back in her snug little spot behind the register. She heard the bell over the door tinkle and straightened to greet the next customer.  Oh! It’s him! The stranger… what’s his name again? Jeff? Self-consciously, she brushed a stray bit of hair behind her ear and grinned as her approached.

“You’re back. I guess the talking green beans didn’t scare you too bad, huh?” Immediately she wished she hadn’t opened her mouth. Stupid. Stupid, Kay! He probably doesn’t even remember you. To her surprise, he held out a small thermos to her. She instinctively reached out for the cool cylinder, then stood awkwardly, holding it. “What’s this?”

“Coffee milk. I told you I’d bring some! I figured that the thermos would be a little more sanitary than walking all the way here with an open glass of milk.” He smiled expectantly. Aren’t you going to try some?”

“Yeah, I guess so. I mean, after you went through all this trouble, I owe you that much.” She unscrewed the lid and sniffed at the contents. “Hm, smells like coffee… this isn’t some kind of prank, is it?”

Jeff’s blue eyes sparkled mischievously. “Not very trusting, are you? I promise there’s nothing but milk and my mythological coffee syrup in there.”

She took a sip. The flavor was something like coffee icecream, with the bite of the bitter bean, softened by the creamy milk and lots of sugar.

“It’s good!” He chuckled and reached for the thermos.

“Nuhuh!” Kay playfully took a step back. “You can’t have it back until I drain every drop. Now I see your ulterior motives! You got me hooked on this stuff so that I will convince Brian to find some and order it.”

Jeff put up his hands in mock surrender. “You got me!” Their laughter was interrupted by a very loud and rather fake cough. “Young man, are you purchasing anything? I wouldn’t want to cut in front of the line…” Mrs. Peabody’s arms were full of precariously balanced produce and several glass jars.

“No ma’am. Sorry about that. Would you like some help?” Without waiting for an answer, he caught a sliding tomato from the top of the pile and rescued a tipping jar of pickles. Setting them down, he started to back off, but Mrs. Peabody wasn’t about to let this newcomer get away that easily.

“So, are you Miss Kay’s young man? It’s about time she got herself a boyfriend. Matter of a fact, I was just telling her that earlier today, wasn’t I, Kay dear?” Without waiting for a response, she chattered on. “You seem like a strong one, you have a job I hope?”

The look on Jeff’s face reminded Kay of a mouse under a cat’s paw. “Um, I’m looking for a job, actually. I just moved here a few weeks ago. The corner of his mouth twitched ever so slightly as he continued. “And I’m afraid I must clear the air, I’m not this lovely lady’s “young man” either. I just stopped by to repay her for a favor she did for me the other day.”

The whole time, Kay had been frantically scanning all the merchandise, trying to complete the transaction as quickly as possible. She pushed the paper bag of groceries forward. “Excuse me, I hate to interrupt, but that will be twenty nine dollars, Mrs. Peabody.” “Oh, okay dear. I really don’t mean to pry; you know I just want the best for you.” Picking up her purchases, she turned towards the door. “Nice meeting you, young man. You youngsters have a good little chat, now. Bye, dears!”

The minute they had the store to themselves, they both burst out laughing. “Wow, I can’t believe you are still standing here, Jeff. Escape would have been the first thing on my mind! Awkward!”

Gasping for air, he chuckled out, “I couldn’t leave, remember? You still have my favorite thermos! I was held hostage against my will!”

“Oh, sorry about that.” She tipped back her head and finished off the milk, before handing it back to him. “Uh, just so you know, regardless of what Mrs. Peabody might think, I’m not desperate for a boyfriend.”

“I didn’t think you were. Gah- that doesn’t sound right. I mean, you seem like a very confident and posed woman.” He scuffed his toe on the floor. “What I’m trying to say is, I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. I forgot what the talk in a small town can be like. You’re just the first person who has really been nice to me since I moved to the area and I wanted to say thank you somehow.”

Kay reached out and grabbed his hand in a firm handshake. “Hey Jeff, feel free to consider me a friend.” The warm expression on her face gave him a jolt of boldness.

“Do you want to do something sometime after you get out of work? Maybe you can show me what locals do for fun around here?”

In response, Kay lifted Destiny up so Jeff could see her. “This little munchkin isn’t exactly up for a social life most nights.”

Jeff’s eyes opened even wider. “Oh wow, a baby! I didn’t know you had kids… She’s beautiful. What’s her name?”

“Destiny Marie. She and I have quite the story. “I’m in the process of adopting her. Something Mrs. Peabody and a lot of other people think is totally crazy.”

Jeff ran a finger across the baby’s downy cheek. “I think it’s great, Kay. I really do. How about weekends? Would that work for you and little Destiny?”

Kay took a deep breath and sent up a silent prayer for wisdom.

“This Sunday, my church is having a picnic after the service. If you’d like, you could come as our guest. I’d give you a chance to meet some folks.”

“I’d love to! Is it the little brick church on Main Street?”

“Yup! Tell you what, meet me out front, at quarter of ten. I’ll be driving the Volkswagen Bug. You can’t miss it. It’s the only Bug for about fifty miles in any direction.”

“Thanks, Kay. I’ll be looking forward to it!”

Kay wondered to herself as Jeff left the store whistling happily. Who would have thought that Mrs. Peabody’s meddling could start such a good thing?

…to be continued…

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About goatgirlbookworm

My name is Toni Cross, and I was raised on a farm in the far north of the United States. I love to read and write and I hope to use those hobbies in a greater way in the days to come. One of my passions is using whatever influence I have to make a difference in the world.

3 responses to “Kay’s Story (Part Seventeen)

  1. slpmartin

    Oh..I’m so hooked on this story. 😉

  2. Pingback: Kay’s Story (Jeff’s Turn) (Part Eighteen) « The Wisdom of Gavroche

  3. Pingback: Kay’s Story (Part Nineteen) « The Wisdom of Gavroche

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