In Between Days

The first thing Elle saw when she woke that morning was her favourite turquoise vase, the sunlight bouncing off the top as it streamed through her bedroom window. “Forgot to close the blinds before I went to bed last night” she thought to herself. She closed her eyes and imagined she was back in her hotel room in Los Angeles where she spent her last holiday, watching Good Morning America on TV as she ate breakfast in bed, glancing occasionally over her left shoulder at the view of blue skies and palm trees outside. She opened her eyes. “Nope still here” she said out loud this time.

Her head was pounding and her mouth parched. “Should have said no to that last glass of champagne” she moaned. It was another Saturday, hung over from someone’s work leaving drinks the night before, however this time the leaving drinks were her own. “It’s the end of an era” everyone kept telling her. “Or the beginning of something new” she kept responding.

As she looked up at the crack in the ceiling above her bed, the one that curled up on each end and made her think it was smiling back down at her, Elle thought about what she would do with her in between days this Summer. Sure she could start applying for jobs, however her redundancy payment was enough to pay for her rent, bills and lifestyle for another six months. “Maybe I should go on another holiday, Hawaii this time, or spend a month at a yoga retreat somewhere? I’ve always wanted to go on a yoga retreat” she wondered. Her stomach rumbled, hunger was starting to settle in. She checked the time on her iPhone, it was eleven o’clock, too late for breakfast and almost time for lunch.

The sun was still shining an hour later as Elle left her apartment. Her neighbour’s cat, stretched out on their front porch warming his belly in the sun, waved his tail at her as she walked by. “Don’t get up Harvey” she called to him. He lifted his head and then placed it back down again, sleep was far more important to him on a Saturday afternoon than being sociable with his unemployed neighbour.

On the way to her usual Saturday lunch place, Cafe Ohm, Elle stopped to look in the window of a gift store she had walked past a hundred times and decided today would be a good day to go in. The store was empty except for a man reading a copy of the Paris Review behind the counter. He stared at her suspiciously through the top of his glasses as she opened the heavy and ornate glass door and made her way inside. It made a loud rattling sound as she closed it behind her. The man looked at her again disapprovingly. “Sorry” she said awkwardly, shrugging her shoulders. In the middle of the store, on a round wooden table that seemed custom-made especially for them were twenty or so statues of people carved out of pale pink stone, all different shapes and sizes with strange expressions on their faces. “Smile” she said as she took a photograph of them on her iPhone. “No photos!” yelled the man behind the counter, unseasonably dressed for Summer in his black wool suit, black shirt and red bow tie with black polka dots. “No photos!” he yelled again, shaking his finger at her. Obviously he didn’t believe in advertising or the power of social media otherwise there would be more people in his store on a Saturday afternoon buying gifts and taking photographs of his peculiar pink statues. Just to spite him Elle uploaded her photo to Instagram with the comment “#TreasureTrove” and the address of the store.

Across the road sitting at a table in front of Cafe Ohm eating lunch with his girlfriend Beth was Dean, one of Elle’s now ex-work colleagues. Dean reminded her of an actor who once starred in a teen movie franchise and was now carving out an indie film career playing a series of characters audiences loved to loathe or loathed to love. “One day soon they’ll break-up and I will win Dean over with my dry sense of humour and great hair” she said quietly to herself. Elle was always being told she had great hair. Beth, sitting across from Dean sipping her matcha green tea latte, a Cafe Ohm specialty which was always served in a green ceramic cup, and laughing at all his jokes “had mediocre hair” Elle thought.

As Elle walked over to say “hi” her heart started to race as memories of the night before began to surface, reminders of things she may or may not have said to Dean in her haze of champagne fuelled confidence. The look on Dean’s face when he saw Elle said it all. Her heart sank, she started to sweat and she had a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. “Best to keep walking then” she muttered to herself. She looked down to the comfort and security of her iPhone and checked her Instagram account. The heart icon at the bottom of the screen glowed red. Elle clicked on it and smiled. Her “#TreasureTrove” post had 33 likes already.

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