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What Goes Around - now completed

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    Taking on the world with an innocent smile

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I've just run out of time :( It's only a partial first draft, I'm afraid. I will have to finish this (and proofread it too!) when I get back, but the deadline will be over by then anyway.

What Goes Around

Greg turned the clackety old antique over in his hands and gave his trademarked purse of the lips and shake of the head.

“It’s been in my family for decades,” the little old woman on the other side of the counter was saying. “It was a wedding gift to my grandparents. It breaks my heart to see it go, but we really need the money. We can’t pay the bills, you see, and we’ll lose the house if we can’t raise some fast.”

Her tale of woe did nothing to sway Greg, as he shook the ornate clock ever so slightly, listening for the tell-tale signs of damage. Everyone came in here with a sad story of some kind of another, and if he empathised with all of them – any of them in fact – he would never get any business done.

“I’ve heard they can be worth a couple of thousand.”

Ohoho, so she had done a little research already. Those were Greg’s favourite kind of customer: the ones who came in thinking they knew what they wanted, but leaving with the comparable pittance that Greg grudgingly handed over. He let out a low whistle, exactly the kind that a plumber always did when evaluating the cost. “It would be,” he said slowly, “If not for the damage. You see here on the lintel? That drops the price considerably, and didn’t you mention that you had difficulty winding it now?”

“Well, yes…”

“I could give you £500 for it.”

She seemed unsure. “We were hoping for a bit more than that for it.”

Greg held up his hands in mock surrender. “Okay, okay, £600, but that’s my final offer. I just can’t go any higher; you’re robbing me blind here!”

Gratefully, the elderly lady exchanged the broken clock for the money and left the shop in reasonable spirits, while Greg tried to hide his glee. Even with the flaws it displayed, the clock was still worth a pretty penny, and once he had got an acquaintance to repair it, it would go for a tidy sum at auction. Yes, Greg felt fairly pleased with the transaction for the time being.

A quick glance of one of the unbroken clocks scattered around the room told Greg that it was twenty past five: nearly time to close up shop. That was the worst part of running your own business; there was no one else to pick up the slack if you didn’t fancy staying until the end. If he wasn’t quite so stingy with the money he did make, Greg might possibly have been able to hire an assistant. As it was, he relied on his sister to cover for him if need be. She never managed to hold down a proper job of her own for more than a couple of weeks anyway, and was grateful of the little money he gave to her for it.

He pottered around a little longer, checking the time all the while, just waiting for the perfect moment to flick the sign on the glass door and lock. Twenty eight minutes past; surely that was close enough? No one ever came at this time, not into an antique and curiosity shop. They preferred the time to browse.

Greg had just turned the sign and reached out a hand to finish the job, when the door flew open and only his quick reflexes prevented him from being whacked square in the nose. A tall, heavyset man wearing orange sneakers and a black coat stalked into the shop carrying a small bundle, holding it close to his body as though it were a child. He looked around for an attendant, but did not turn around.

“Heh hum,” Greg cleared his throat. “Can I help you at all?” Damn idiots coming in at this time, and not looking where they were going to boot.

The man spun on the spot and Greg wished that he had slipped out the door when he had the chance. There was a long scar running down one cheek that met the edge of his mouth and gave it a kind of sneer. He glared at Greg and watched him intently as the shopkeeper sidled around the counter. “I wish to make a bargain,” he grunted.

“Do you have the goods with you?” What a stupid question that was. Greg wished he could take them back before they had even left his lips. It was a measure of just how much he wanted to be out of here.

The customer did not deign to answer him, only narrowing his eyes and carefully unwrapping the package to lay on the counter in front of him. First came the outer layer, some kind of brownish velvet if looks were anything to go by, and Greg prided himself on his attention to detail. Then the layers kept on coming, muslin if he was not mistaken, on and on until Greg began to wonder what could actually be nestled in the middle there was so little space.

Finally, the man with the bizarre orange sneakers leant backwards and Greg peered within the folds to see item. It was small, and warm to the touch when he delicately ran his fingers across the surface. He cocked his head to one side and considered it for a minute before daring to ask. “An egg? Why have you brought me a freckled egg?”

“I am in the market to sell.”

“Nah, mate, you’ve come to the wrong place. This is a live one, I don’t deal with animals, just antiques and curiosities. You might want to try the pet shop down the high street. They might take it?” His voice sounded braver than Greg felt. This was not the kind of man you disagreed with. He was probably carrying a gun or at least a knife. All the knives in this place were ornamental; Greg would have nothing to defend himself with if things go nasty.

“It is a curiosity, is it not?”

This man was sharper than he looked. It was true, the colours on the egg were remarkable, and something in it kept drawing his eyes towards it, to the odd patterns in the dark red freckles that covered the pale brown shell. The care with which he handled the egg suggested that he at least thought there was some kind of value in it, though what that value was, Greg had no idea at all. “I suppose so, but it’s really not my speciality. I wouldn’t know what to do with it.”

“This is a very rare egg. It comes from the Verillion bird.” He paused for effect, but Greg only looked blankly at him and the man continued on. “Very sought after and expensive.”

Greg could not stop himself blurting out, “So what are you bringing it to me for, then?”

“We thought you might be interested in the transaction. You stand to make a fair amount of money from it.”

Something just wasn’t sitting right with the whole thing. “Then why aren’t you selling it yourself? Why bring me in at all?” Slowly, and almost imperceptible, Greg edged backwards towards the back door, just in case he needed to make a quick exit.

This time, however, the guy in the orange sneakers did not seem to react. “You have access to contacts that we do not, Mr. Ashurst.” Greg did not manage to hide his shock at hearing his own name. “My boss believes the arrangement will be beneficial to both parties.”

Against his better judgement, Greg asked. “How much?”

“My boss is willing to let you have it for a grand.”

“A grand? Do you think I’m made of money?”

“Sources say that you are financially solvent.”

Damn, where were they getting their information? “Yeah, well, that’s as may be, but I’m not going to drop a thousand pounds on an item that I know absolutely noting about. I’m no fool.”

The man began to wrap the egg back up in its layers. “Just think about it. The offer will not stay open forever. If you are not amenable, I’m sure we can find someone else willing to spend a little to make a lot.”

Greg said nothing to the man as he left, but stayed dead still until he heard the click of the door at the front of the shop, upon which he literally leapt across the counter and skidded across the floor to lock it before he could come back. Only then did Greg realise that his heart was racing. The man wasn’t that intimidating…. was he? Apart from the strangely uncharacteristic orange sneaker, he certainly appeared to be formidable, not the sort of person Greg would tangle with, not even after a few pints when he had a horrible tendency to pick fights with people considerably bigger than him. Not that it mattered now; he was gone, and it was time to close up. If nothing else it had killed those last few minutes that were usually so dull.

However, the image of the egg remained burned in his memory as he finished closing up shop. Was it really worth as much as the man in the orange sneakers seemed to think? After totting up the takings from today, Greg began to wonder if maybe he should have taken him up on the offer. How much was it worth anyway? Perhaps he should look it up later, just in case.

When he finally got out back to the alley that served as a car park for the row of small shops, he found his sister sitting on the bonnet of his car, letting her long wavy hear blow mindlessly into the wind. “Oh what do you want, Serena?” he said wearily. “And get off the car. I only just washed it.”

She jumped down from her vantage point, the beads around her neck clicking and jangling. The noise grated on Greg’s nerves. “I need a ride home.”

It was hardly a surprise. “Whatever. Get in.”

Greg winced as her mud-covered giant boots scattered bits over the floor of the car, though he said nothing aloud. Of course, Serena was not her original name, though Greg had forgotten how to think of her as anything else now. It certainly suited her right down to the ground. Born Pauline Mary <NAME>, at the age of thirteen she had begun to insist they all call her Serena, at least at home, since she could not get away with it at school, and the day after she turned eighteen she had changed her name by deed poll. Greg knew her better under her new name than her old one, though he still could not understand her at all.

“So how was your day?” she asked him airily. Her long flowing skirt had got caught in the car door and she yanked hard on it until it finally came free.

“Strange,” he conceded eventually.

She clapped her hands excitedly. “Oh, that’s the best kind!” Serena enthused. “Do tell me about it!”

“Really, it wasn’t that interesting.” Greg was still digesting the events of the day; he had yet to form a proper opinion on it.

“Tell me anyway.”

He rolled his eyes, which probably wasn’t a great idea, since he was already reversing down the alleyway, and reluctantly acquiesced. She wasn’t going to give up until she did as he wanted. For a dippy, flighty, always on the go hippie, Serena seemed to get exactly what she wanted a remarkable amount of the time. “Most of it was nothing much, the usually really. Then just before closing some weird guy came in with a funny little freckled egg, telling me it was really rare and from some Veron bird or something. God knows why he brought it to me. It’s not my field at all!”

Serena started bouncing up and down in her seat like a child, even more excited than usual. “Oh my God, Greg, are you telling me someone came in to the shop to sell you a Verillion egg? Is that what you mean.”

“Yeah, could be. What of it, anyway? Is it rare or something?”

“Rare?” she exclaimed. “Are you telling me you haven’t heard of a Verillion egg?”

This was getting annoying now. “Serena, calm the **** down and tell me what you’re on about. No, I hadn’t heard of it before today. Should I have?”

Clasping her hands together in front of her chest, Serena sighed deeply and gazed off into the distance, focusing on nothing. “Verillion eggs are legendary! Verillion birds are rare and beautiful, prized by collectors. They have gorgeous red plumes, and dark purple feathers that are amazingly soft – so I hear, at any rate. Vicious, too, though, and almost never found in captivity. They like their freedom, you see, and are protective to the infinite degree. There are myths attached to them too, all kinds of stories like punishments for thieves, or that if you are gifted with a Verillion egg, it will bestow upon you special powers and exceptional luck… he wasn’t trying to gift it to you was he?”

“Not at that price,” Greg snorted. “Not in the least. Serena, are you saying that these eggs have magical powers?”

“Magical, no, more… mystical.

“Don’t talk rubbish,” he scoffed. He should be used to that kind of silly idea by now. Serena was always parroting one weird thing or another. Last time he had given her a lift home she had rambled on and on about empathy fields or some other such crap. There was no end to the things she could come out with.

“I’m not, I’m really not! There are all kinds of stories surrounding Verillion birds, both good and bad. I’m glad you didn’t buy it, Greg. They might be worth thousands of pounds, but it could have been dangerous!”

So they really were as rare and expensive as the man had made out. Damn. Perhaps he should have gone for it after all. Well, the man might come back yet. A little research never hurt anyone. It might be worth finding out a bit more, just in case. Serena was hardly a reliable source of anything.

To Greg’s surprise, the research he did later that evening did seem to back up everything Serena had told him, though he glossed over anything that suggested any kind of powers attached, mystical or otherwise. The legends were irrelevant; all that mattered was if it would be worthwhile completing the transaction with the man in the orange sneakers. There certainly seemed to be a market for it.

It was almost a disappointment when the next day yielded no sign of the man returning to renew the proffered transaction. Only when Greg had begun to give up hope that he had been unable to find an alternative buyer, did the door swing widely open and a man in orange sneakers entered carrying a delicate bundle. Not the same, man, it should be noted, and the sneakers had to be several sizes smaller to go with his more diminutive stature, but the goods remained the same.

“Have you reconsidered our offer?”

“Maybe.” No point giving too much away too soon. He had to play the game properly for maximum profit. “I’m interested, but the price is a bit high for me right now.”

The man inclined his head forward slightly. “Very well; I am authorised to discuss a deal. What did you have in mind?”

In an attempt to make it look like he hadn’t carefully calculated all this already, Greg lolled his head around a little and shifted from one foot to the other. “I was thinking something more along the lines of eight hundred.”

A sharp twist of the head to the right told Greg that the man in the second pair of orange sneakers, a rarity in itself, was not going to go for it, and he was surprised when the man countered with a reasonable offer. “Make it nine and you have a bargain, Mr. Ashurst.”

The use of his name sent shivers down Greg’s spine. “Done.” He held out a hand to shake on it, but the man did not move a muscle. “Oookay then. How would you prefer payment?”

“Cash. Only cash. No receipts.”

Wow, they really did want to get rid of this item quickly. Could it have been stolen? Not that it mattered to Greg; stolen goods had passed through his hands before, and he had the perfect business for trading items he did not care to keep for himself on to others. Only once had the police actually come a-knocking, and on that particular occasion, the items in question had long since been sold on and Greg got no more than a mild slap on the wrist, nothing to worry about.

It was with a somewhat pained reluctance than Greg handed over the money, and once the man and his stupid orange sneakers had left, he spent a good twenty minutes gazing idly at his unusual purchase before he realised what he was doing and stowed it safely away in the safe for the night. Normally he would have taken it home with him, but tonight was pub night and he would not be there long enough to see it in a safe location.

The trip to the pub was fraught with difficulties and minor incidents. First of all, Greg missed the bus my mere minutes, which meant he either had to drive in and not drink, or call a taxi at great expense, as there was no bus for an hour, if it bothered to turn up at all. The latter was the only real option and he bitched and moaned about it under his breath the whole way there. Greg had barely been in the pub ten minutes when the juke box broke and he found himself completely soaked by a pint carried by a practically horizontal student. Added to this, his pool arm seemed to be atrociously off, and he could not manage to win a single game. It was a piss poor evening all round and Greg drowned his sorrows with pint after pint with his mates who were in no better state.

He finally crawled out of the pub not long after closing time, almost literally in fact, since Greg was completely unable to stand up without support by that time. The rain was coming down in sheets, and Greg could barely see his hand in front of his face, though whether that had more to do with the thick fog of his drunken state, Greg was not entirely sure. He said – or rather, shouted – goodbye to his friends and then wandered off on his own in a random direction in search of a taxi.

Finding a taxi not forthcoming, Greg stumbled around in the half-light. A curious ringing – no, more of a chirp – echoed through his mind and drove him further and further into the council estate as he tried to escape the incessant noise.

Completely lost now, Greg stood stock still and attempted to take in his surroundings. Where the Hell was he? It certainly wasn’t a place he recognised.

Across the front of his vision flashed a bid. A bird with red plumes, or so it seemed. Greg shook his head and shivered. He must be really drunk if he was seeing creatures from one of Serena’s stories. There it was again! It was all just too weird, like they were after him or something. Could it be nothing more than a dodgy pint?

Greg was not sure how he got home that night. All he remembered was waking up at 2am on the floor of his own hallway, with the front door open and the keys still in it. Sick though he now felt, Greg had just about sobered up enough to close it properly and then drag himself off to bed.

Unsurprisingly, the next morning, Greg did not get up at the sound of his first alarm, nor the second, and he woke with a start nearly an hour after he should have opened up the shop. By the time he made it there, through a horrific traffic jam caused by an accident on the main A-road, it was closing on 11 o’clock and Greg’s day did not improve after that. He could count on one hand the number of customers that passed through his doors that day, and none of them spent more than a fiver on his wares. Trinkets were all that he sold at all, the worst takings since he had first opened the shop nearly five years ago. It was beyond depressing. It had to be something to do with the credit crunch that the economists were all talking about. People weren’t spending their hard-earned cash on frivolous items, which spelled bad news for Greg who made his money off them that way.

As the bad day turned into several, Greg began to get more and more worried. The alternator to his car spluttered and died on Friday morning, just to add to his woes, and though he sold one expensive item, it was barely enough to cover the costs of repair, never mind the mortgage and rent on the shop. The more Greg dwelled on the source of his problems, the more he started to believe in the curse of the Verillion egg. Three separate sales of the egg fell through for him, and general business did not improve either.

He sat there, in his empty shop and stared angrily at the egg, which he had laid out carefully onto the counter. You never knew who might walk in and decide they wanted to by it! Ever since he had bought the egg things had been going badly. As much a he hated to even consider Serena’s ideas on anything, the longer it went on, the more he thought that the Verillion egg had been the harbinger of doom, and that made him even more pissed off them before.

“Damn you, damn you all the way to Hades!” he yelled at the inanimate object and shoved it into the nearest container he owned without caring what it was.

Edited by LadyGuinevere, 29 October 2008 - 03:12 PM.



    Oh my god Becky, look at her Big Book...

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LG, I certainly hope you get to finish this story, I want to know what happens to the egg and the store owner! :thumbsup:



    showing all my haters love

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yea i want more too! you are my favorite flavor of cool lg and i always love your writing. :)



    I am groot

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THis is great so far!! Finish it!



    Supra-Awesome Badass PIE Pimp

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NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! This was as bad as the TV cutting to black at the end of The Sopranos! The only thing missing was a fatass eating onion rings.

ANYway, what there was, was ****ing awesome. My favorite passage:

To Greg’s surprise, the research he did later that evening did seem to back up everything Serena had told him, though he glossed over anything that suggested any kind of powers attached, mystical or otherwise. The legends were irrelevant; all that mattered was if it would be worthwhile completing the transaction with the man in the orange sneakers. There certainly seemed to be a market for it.

There's just something lyrical about that. Now, stay with me on this, but wouldn't that make an awesome opening to this story? Of course, in the next paragraph you'd have to flash back to the beginning of the story. And I'm not saying I hate your opening now. But I don't know, man, there's just something that kept bringing me back to this paragraph. It just seems like a teaser for some reason.

But then again, I'm nuts, so grain of salt, me lass, grain of salt. :drool:



    Following Kromaggs

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Intriguing story, LadyG. I'll be waiting for more when you have the time.

My bet is on the clock the old woman brought in because of the title. Hands going around. The egg is a red herring.



    Taking on the world with an innocent smile

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Really, Dex? That paragraph? I can't say I thought it was anything special myself, lol :blush:

Thanks all for the great comments on the beginning! :)

As the beginning is in first draft form, I have written the second part, but not edited it really either, so they're about at a level. This is partly so that when I do actually get time to edit, it's all in the same state ;)


“Damn you, damn you all the way to Hades!” he yelled at the inanimate object and shoved it into the nearest container he owned without caring what it was. It no longer mattered how much he had spent on the bloody thing already, all Greg wanted was to get it out of his sight, then he could focus his frustrations on the much more likely culprit of the impending monetary collapse and the misuse of funds by the current government. That had plenty of research to back up the theory, unlike the stupid egg that was based on hand-me-down fairy tales and nothing else. He hated Serena for making him even consider the idea, and himself even more for listening to her.

Full of pent up frustration, Greg flipped the sign on the door to closed and twisted the hands on the plastic door clock to indicate that he would be back in an hour. If he didn’t get out there and clear his head, Greg was sure he would go insane. It was lunchtime anyway, and he was hungry. A newspaper or magazine for the afternoon wouldn’t go amiss either.

By the time Greg had returned back to the shop, he felt much better. The sandwich sat nicely in his stomach, and he had found a new issue of an antiques magazine to peruse. Even better than that, the girl at the counter had flirted with him outrageously, though he knew nothing more than her name was Elle. She had seemed interested in continuing their conversation, but her manager was watching intently and a queue had begun to form behind him. Still, the over-zealous manager provided the perfect conduit for Greg’s anger, and he poured it out into him, imagining all sorts of scenarios involving the manager’s incapacitation and Elle being graciously swept off her feet by Greg, each more unrealistic than the last.

Business began to pick up a little after that. Not enough to really make Greg feel comfortable with his financial position, but he was at least able to cover the rent on the little shop and pay most of the utility bills. He might have to dip into his savings to cover it until the economy picked up though, which irked him more than anything else. Savings were there to be kept, not used!

He started frequenting the shop where Elle worked every day as well, always at the same time, just in case. Sometimes she was there, sometimes not, but always under the annoyingly watchful eye of her stupid manager. He almost lived the few words they shared, even if she barely recognised him.

Serena took to asking him about the egg at every single opportunity, getting more and more frantic about what might happen, until Greg finally snapped and growled. “I sold it, okay? And not for as much as it was worth, so leave it alone!” To her credit, after his outburst she did exactly that, and did not mention it again, though she still sent pointed looks in his direction from time to time.

Truth be told, however, the egg was as much the bane of Greg’s existence now as it was before, though for a very different reason. In one of the many lulls in trade, Greg had taken it upon himself to re-arrange the entire shop. It had taken him all day, and he had found several hidden gems he had forgotten about in the process, every single one of which had flown off the equally antique shelves as soon as they were properly priced and advertised. The only problem was, Greg could no longer remember which of the many repositories he had dumped it in during his moment of anger, and so far, he had been unable to track it down. It had to be somewhere around here, but where? Greg wasn’t even sure he actually wanted to find it anymore. True, he could certainly do with the money, but whenever he thought of it, Greg was reminded of how ****ty things had become.

Begrudgingly, Greg drove Serena to work the next day. Against all odds and expectations, she had actually managed to hold down a stable job for more than a couple of weeks. “Please pick me up in the morning,” she had begged. “I haven’t got a ride for tomorrow, and I can’t afford to lose this job too; I need the money!”

Despite himself, Greg was somewhat impressed by her unusual dedication (for her, anyway), and since he had no wish to be the tool of her undoing, felt obliged to help her out. Once or twice during the car journey as she asked idle questions on the state of the business and what type of items he had in at the moment, Greg was sure she started to ask him about the egg again and pulled herself up short. He did not refer to it himself at all. Perhaps things really were best left along after all. Still he did not believe all the mumbo jumbo that Serena had spouted at him, but things were looking up a little right now and Greg had no wish to jinx it. Stubbornly he refused to acknowledge that this idea of his was not so far distanced from Serena’s.

Greg was just rearranging a couple of the items in the window when he spotted a rush of orange sneaker fly past. Two pairs in fact. Curiosity piqued, Greg poked his head around the front door of his shop to see the two men that had persuaded him between them to buy the egg in the first place scarpering off down the high street. He was quickly forced to withdraw, however, as two policemen in their stupidly bright yellow jackets chased after them, followed by the trademark police cars with their sirens blaring. With nothing else to be gleaned from off in the distance, Greg simply shook his head and went back to work. Unsavoury characters they were for sure; who knew what kind of awful things they might be involved in, and the further Greg stayed away from them the better.

No sooner had Greg returned to his spot behind the counter did he find a customer in his shop. That was strange; he had not heard the door chime go. It had been playing up a bit recently. Perhaps it had finally given up the ghost. Greg made a mental note to get it checked out as he took in the customer’s appearance.

It was a strange vision that stood before him, even more so than his sister, and Serena was bizarre to say the least. It was a young woman who was perusing the shelves, with a long mane of bright red hair that clearly wasn’t a natural colour. It fell past her shoulders down as far as her waist, except for a spiky kind of fringe that defied gravity. Her clothes were long and flowing, almost like she was wearing robes, in dark earthy colours, and the material was such that it shimmered weirdly when she moved. If Serena had seen her she would have been all over it. She had something of a fetish for material like that.

“Er… can I help you, miss?” he asked eventually.

“Just browsing.” Her voice was thick and wobbly, almost as though she was unused to using it. Or maybe it was his imagination working overtime. Damn Serena and he stories! He had never had this kind of trouble keeping his mind on track before.

She floated rather than moved about the shop, picking up one thing after another and then putting them back again, not a millimetre out from its original location. Greg felt guilty for watching her so intently. There was just something… ethereal about the way she drifted from shelf to shelf that drew his eyes to him, though he had a stack of papers to go through, and soon he would be due to pay his daily visit on Elle as well.

Finally the redheaded girl settled on an item and came to the counter with it clutched precariously in her hands. “Please, how much?” she said timidly.

When she lifted her head, Greg could see that she had been crying. The streaks down her porcelain skin were like caverns, and her body still shook from the silent sobs. How had he not noticed it earlier? “That? That’s an 1850s jewellery box, authentic antique, see the beautiful carvings around the sides? It’s £75.

“Oh.” Her stance visibly slumped and her deep brown eyes dropped to the floor. “I don’t have that much.”

“I could do it for fifty?”

The woman shook her head. “Still, I can’t.” She placed the box carefully on the counter and gave it one last intense, longing look. “Thank you for your help.”

Greg was used to people coming into the shop and balking at the prices. It happened all the time. It rarely worried him since he knew his prices were fair and fellow antique dealers were the worst offenders. They thought they were so clever coming in here and trying to haggle for a bargain. Greg could spot one of his peers on sight, and this poor girl certainly was not one of them. Something about her tore at his heartstrings in a way that felt completely alien to Greg. She already looked like she had been through the wars; how could he possibly make her day any worse in good conscience?

“Wait!” he called out. “Maybe… maybe I could just let you have it? If it’s so important to you, I mean.” It was like someone else was in control of his body. He had never done anything like this before.

The crying redhead spun on the spot and it was as though the whole shop was filled with beams of light as a smile broke across her face, eclipsing the tear stains that Greg was sure could not have disappeared. “Do you really mean that?”

“Uh, yeah,” Greg ran the fingers of his right hand through his hair. “Why not.” What the Hell. Everyone had to do something nice one in their life, right? Besides, there was something about the eyes that reminded him of Elle.

“I thank you from the very bottom of my heart!” She threw her arms out in gratitude, and with the long swathes of material in her outfit it gave her the very curious look of having wings. “Though you may not receive money for this gift, you will received payment in another form.”

What other form? Greg was beginning to tire of this game already. Money was the only payment he accepted, so what in the world was she talking about anyway? “Um, let me wrap that for you. I have tissue paper and bags. Greg turned away from the unearthly customer and rustled in his supplies for the packaging material.

When Greg turned back to the counter armed with acid-free tissue and a sturdy back, the redhead was already gone, the box with her. It was most strange; the notices on the door did not flutter, nor was their any hint of a breeze at her departure, which must have been nigh-on instantaneous. It was almost as though she had disappeared into thin air, which of course was an entirely ridiculous notion. He must simply have been turned away for longer than he realised. Yes, that had to be it. What other explanation was there?

She had, however, made him late for his usual ‘meeting’ with Elle. Greg looked sharply at the clock to his right. If he hurried he could still make it before she took her lunch break. It was starting to get expensive, having to buy something from the shop each time he went in there, money he could hardly spare right now, but it was totally worth it, just to exchange those single digits of words with the beauty that was Elle.

Greg did not stop to check the name of the magazine he plucked from the shelf and then proceeded to hop from one foot to another in the queue as he constantly checked his watch. What was up with that old biddy at the front of the queue? Did she really have to count out each little tiny piece of change in her purse to pay for the newspaper? She had to be doing it on purpose just to spite him!

Finally, Greg reached the front of the queue with three minutes to spare and a weight lifted suddenly from his shoulders. It was a good thing too, for she smiled at him with that glowing magic that made him go weak at the knees. “Hi,” he said, as casually and confidently as he could manage under the circumstances. “How’s it going?”

“Oh, not bad,” she replied airily as she ran the barcode under the scanner. “That’ll be three-fifty please.”

Greg pulled out a dog-eared five pound not and handed it over in exchange for the magazine and two bits of paper, shortly followed by his change. Wait, TWO bits of paper? Greg was itching to take a closer look, but now did not seem the time. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” she said with a wink.

It was all Greg could do to keep himself upright until he was out of sight of her shop, whereupon he stopped dead in the street and pulled out the two pieces of paper. One was the receipt as he had surmised. The second was the one he was after. A note.

Meet me outside the bakery in ten minutes.

Automatically, Greg turned back in the direction he had just come, but there was no sign of her yet. Of course there wouldn’t be; it had hardly been ten seconds, let alone ten minutes. And then there was the possibility that it might be an obscure joke.

The butterflies in his stomach competed with the skip in his step for supremacy, with the result that by the time Greg was due to meet Elle he was feeling more than a little nauseous, not helped by the stench of the large amounts of Cornish pasties that were being cooked nearby.

His fears that it was a joke were wholly unfounded, and Elle appeared dead on time. The first few sentences between the pair of them were awkward, as each attempted to find their metaphorical feet in the situation, but after Greg conquered his nerves and invited her into the adjoining café for a drink and a cake, conversation flowed freely and the hour passed quicker that Greg could ever remember. The pair enjoyed themselves so thoroughly that neither had any qualms whatsoever about arranging a repeat, and Greg spent the rest of the day in some kind of dizzy haze at the thought.

It was not until days, possibly even weeks, later than Greg finally realised which repository he had put the egg in. It was the 1850s antique wooden box, the one he had given away for free to the strange crying redhead the same day that he had first gone on a date with Elle, who was well on the way to being the love of his life already.

What was even more weird was that Greg did not regret it, not one tiny little bit.



    showing all my haters love

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hey you should edit the title! i didnt know you posted more! :drool:

im going to print this out right now to read it! :)



    Supra-Awesome Badass PIE Pimp

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Well, I for one thought it was awesome! :drool: Thanks for coming back and posting this. I just don't know what Nixie's problem is or why she hasn't come back and given her feedback. Maybe she hates you. Or maybe she's insane and thought this final bit (with the chilling last line! <shudders> ) sucked. Maybe she ran away and joined the flea circus.

The bottom line is that Nixie totally blew you off. :drool:

Okay, okay, she asked me to make sure you knew that their internet has been down and she hasn't had the chance to come back with her feedback. :pimp:



    Taking on the world with an innocent smile

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Awww, that's really sweet that she would think to say that :heart:

I'd really love some additionl feedback actually :) There was something I was going for with this, and I'm wondering if that came across okay ;)

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