– “Oh no Frances, don’t do that again! It’s only Tuesday…. What time is it?”
– “Early enough, and listen to this, it says Venus is aligning with the Moon today, and small events stemming from Capricorn’s innate daryness will pamper you with a stream of luxurious payback…. can you translate this?”
– ” It means I need three spoons of sugar in my coffee today, stewardess!”
– “Oh.. I forgot to tell you, yesterday: we’ve run out of coffee.”
– “aarrrggghhhh…. check inside Tommy’s lottery box- if he’s still snoring…. you might find a couple of free coffee samples, as the horoscope suggests…”
– “I’m afraid I can’t, it says here- geminis need to emphasise on time keeping today, or else we may have to face self-piling workload.”
– “ok. Don’t forget the Arabica mild roast on your way back.”
– “I’ll write it on my hand. Bye! Don’t fall back asleep lucky capricorn!”
By a chance of luck, as I reach for my phone…. the battery’ s dead. Frances saved me again, because I had set the alarm buzz for seven am.
Through the window I watch her walk away in a confident hurry, sporting a purple uniform and her favourite yellow crocs.
– “Frances, I’m not a Capricorn, I’m a Sagittarius!!!” My words are trashed away by the noisy rubbish truck.
* * *
The boss has given us an extra lunch half hour, and once again the receptionist wants me to take her sample-hunting.
– “Let’s have lunch first, I suggest, there’s no queueing at the food stall right now. They said there might be a storm.”
– “What, is that what Francesca read on today’s horoscope?”
– “Don’t be jealous of her. She’s had it hard.”
– “And so have we all. Three samples for me and only one for her!”
– “Hot dogs?”, Asks the food stall lady.
– “Two for me with no ketchup, loads of mustard, extra napkins and chopsticks please!” Anita’s not pulling her leg.
– “That will be eight pounds fifty, just eight pounds for you.”
– “I ‘ve not got enough coins…. so: Same order please, but without the hotdogs!”
– “Ummm… One seventy five, two seventy five, three pounds for you! And a hotdog on the house!”
– “Same for me please.”
– “Look, there’s a new bench there. Quick, grab it girl!”
I hesitate to ask then brave the question:
– “Anita, can I enquire…. why won’t you eat without chopsticks?”
– “They make me feel slender. That’s it.”
– “Oh, must be a precious feeling for a millennial female.”
– “Ok, Capricorn! it’s beauty goodies time!”
– “But you only had mustard for lunch!”
– “Yes, I needed to make up for the free granola bars they were handing out at the station. Here, I took a couple for your pretty Frances.”
– “Thanks. We ve got twelve minutes left. Put some lipstick on, off we go on a lucky errand….. hey, I said lipstick, not Mustard!”
* * *
Anita was sniffing all the new shampoo and conditioner cute bottles, not lending an ear to me.
– “Do you do Mustard shampoo, Madame?”
– “Mustard shampoo? Not as far as I know. But our latest cinnamon edition shampoo and conditioner in one is your closest bet. Let me ask my supervisor anyway.”
Leaving all the bottle lids halfway screwed, Anita looks high on exotic essences.
– “Please Sir, could you be kind enough to fill in our creative suggestion form, and very importantly, your email address, because we are treating you with this season’s sample case.”
– “But we’re late to work…”
– “No worries – I can quickly fill it in for you, because I am impressed with the beautiful shine on your girlfriends hair.”
– “Don’t misspell your email address again!” Anita the spoiler sometimes behaves like she’s my girlfriend.
Mission exceeded, we two colleagues are pleasantly excited by what items we got inside the gift bags.
We hear a thunderbolt.
It’s raining so heavily we have to stay under the porch, dodging the upset bargain shoppers who only want a square inch of shelter.
The rain grows thicker and cooler. I’ll never forget the next five minutes, when Anita opens the coconut shampoo and the small crowd of shoppers instantly start querring about the product.
Anita wants the stage, and she starts foaming her hair under the storm.
I think they gave us an aphrodisiac instead of shampoo. Passers try and take pictures… but the rain’s too thick.
I cannot recall a sexier scene than my very professional receptionist washing her locks under the violent spring shower. I want to ask her what her sign on the horoscope is.
Anita needs not to feel jealous about any single millennial or trillinial chick. The girls got it.
Before the rain recedes the receptionist’s head is wrapped in a newspaper.
A rain scent still lingers on her- even today, as all customers keep boomeranging back to our shop.
* * *
On my way back after work, I don’t bother to collect free papers to cut out the horoscope for Frances, as I’ve been fed up of doing for the past couple of years. All I can think of is brushing with Anita’s hair. I forget to pop into the supermarket to get a coffee jar for the flat. I even forgot Frances’ gift bag!
* * *
The flat door is unlocked and I am hoping it’s not some burglars coming to steal toilet rolls. There’s sachets of mustard over the kitchen table. Frances treating my Anita again as a gesture of fair competition.
– “Thanks, Frances! Frances, you in?”
She sneaks out from Tommy’s bedroom. I pretend not to notice. The keetle beeps.
– “Who got the coffee?”
– “Tommy won a tenner on the Lotto! Says Frances, bottoming her uniform.
– “Well done. Can I keep the change?”
The evening is light as usual, lifting the work fatigue just when it’s time to sleep.
I could have guessed! These geesas are a couple! No wonder they don’t mind me being three months behind the rent…
What other stuff is to be discovered this week? Do I have to peep on one of Frances’ horoscopes to find out?
* * *
Two weeks later, and as I am still scratching the love bite, a couple of emails come in at once.
One from the landlord, and one from the beauty store. Bad news is landlord going on a gap year so wants one years rent ahead, good news is we won the two shampoo recipe contests. I only submitted one- shampoo with rainwater…
Over the phone, Anita can’t believe her luck, and starts laughing and laughing,
– “I made up a mustard shampoo formula, just as a joke….. I didn’t even test it…. can’t believe we won the grand, plus the lifetime supply of beauty products!”
Well, it’s all typed somewhere in cyberspace. As for me I need to find a new room. The grand comes in handy.
– “You moving out with Frances?”
– “Then come to my block! there’s a free room on the second floor sharing with some dictionary animals…. sure they ‘ll love the mustard shampoo….”
– “Thanks. I ‘ll check the horoscope and get back to you.”
– “No probs, Capricorn! I’ll be practising on a new sardines moisturising cream formula as a good bye prank to Frances – while you make up your mind…… gosh you really got me into this.”
– “Just to remind you girls once again, I am not a Capricorn, but the lucky Sagittarius…”
Keep the competition happy!
Based on a True Story.