One Day

Marigold, threw open the curtains to Mona’s room.

“Good morning,” Marigold beamed. “It’s ten o’clock, you need to eat something.”

“The light is too bright,” Mona struggled to sit up. “Close them a little, be kind to me.”

“Very well,” Marigold said, “I will close them a little, just enough to let light in. You need to get some sunshine. You can’t stay here all day with the curtains closed, it’s not good for you. Doctor says you need to get some fresh air.”

“What does doctor know?” Mona disliked her doctor’s advice.

“The doctor believes you should move more,” Marigold said, “it’s good for you and the baby.”

“He also says, there is nothing wrong with me,” Mona was displeased. “I know what is wrong with me and I don’t feel good. I am tired all the time. My feet are swollen and hurt. I can barely move as I get bigger. My back aches. You have never been pregnant as I have. The baby is stealing my youth. You don’t understand. You don’t care.”

Marigold, sat next to Mona and held her hand.

“I do care and I do understand,” Marigold said. “The doctor says you don’t have to stay in bed, your in good health.”

Mona turned away from Marigold and began to weep.

“Don’t cry,” Marigold disliked people crying, it made her uncomfortable. “I brought you something to eat. Why don’t you eat something?”

“I’m not hungry,” Mona bawled.

“You have to eat something,” Mona said. “You have to maintain your strength.”

“You only care about the baby,” Mona moaned, “never me. You don’t love me anymore.”

“I do love you,” Marigold let Mona weep. “Want me to rub your back? It will ease your ache. I can also message your feet. Later, I can fix you a bath water, with your favorite scent, make you some chocolate milk, too. Do you want that?”

“Yes,” Mona stopped for a minute to answer. “Can I get chocolate milkshake, instead?”

“Anything you want,” Marigold smiled.

“Okay,” Mona let Marigold rub her back.

Marigold had been caring for Mona since she joined her on the train that fateful day. Marigold had been more of an adult in this strange relationship. Mona played the child. They bounded together, neither one or the other would abandon each other, regardless of the circumstances.

In the beginning, Marigold had looked up to Mona like a mother, but that changed one day, when Marigold was twelve and puberty had set in. Marigold, noticed Mona had an unconventional behavior towards life, though, Mona was sophisticated in her feminine ways, never lacking class. Mona was never brazen with her habits, and she disliked those with panache lifestyles.

They were in France, a day after Marigold turned twelve, and Mona had celebrated her birthday with cake and chocolate milk, sending Marigold to bed soon after. Marigold slept happily, until she was awoken by Mona’s voice whispering something in the doorway of her room.

“She sleeps so peacefully,” Mona whispered. “Like an angel, just to think I found her starving to death under the bridge. I took pity in her, a small child of eight, hiding like a common rat. She needed a mother and I had always wanted a child. It was destiny.”

“Oh, how good of you Mona,” an unfamiliar woman’s voice spoke. “Bless your, taking that poor waif in your care. She is indeed lucky.”

“Indeed,” Mona said, “she would have died.”

That was the first time Marigold heard that story. And who was that woman? Marigold never knew, as Mona brought a stream of different women in to their little apartment. The women came after Marigold was in bed and left before she awoke. Marigold knew this because one night she got up to get a glass of water. She almost tripped on a high heel shoe that wasn’t Mona’s. Marigold picked up the blue shoe, she knew Mona did not own blue shoes. She had red ones, white ones, black ones, but not blue. She then noticed the trail of pantyhose, dresses, and undergarments leading to Mona’s room. Marigold couldn’t understand what it meant. She felt disappointed to thinking that Mona was bringing in strange man. That’s when the green-eyed monster began to visit.

One Day

“Marigold, Marigold,” someone called out to her.

“Yes,” Marigold, snapped back to the present, turning to an older women, Mrs. Birdie, one of the salesclerks that now worked for her.

“A young lady here,” Mrs. Birdie pointed to the young lady standing next to her, “is looking for a dress for a wedding. Do we have anything on her size?”

“Oh, yes, certainly,” Marigold responded, turned to Stony, the young clerk she had hired to attend the front desk. “You’ll be okay?”

Stony nodded yes. Stony barely said much, and rarely smiled, but she was young and pretty, something Mona would approve. Though, Mona would have opposed against hiring Mrs. Birdie, because she was older, short, and a bit on the plump side. But, Mrs. Birdie was nice, and was good at selling dresses. She had a childlike voice, which chirped when she was in very high spirits. But, Marigold ran the shop now, while Mona had taken a permanent leave of absence. For some reason, Mona did not want to be part of the shop anymore and preferred to stay home.

In Mona’s absence, the shop had grown and Marigold had added more people to work at the shop. That included five salesclerk, one front desk girl, three seamstress and another female employee who’s job was to maintain a control of the goods that they used to make the dresses. None had met the original founder of the store, Mona who’s idea had helped flourish the boutique. Marigold, could barely handle the demand, but she kept everything in control and loved the challenge the job gave her. Her seamstresses were busy all the time, and that satisfied her, which meant sales were up. Eventually, they got overloaded by many interest that they only did appointments, with a three week waiting period, as they quickly filled up their schedules.

Marigold was in good spirits, she believed if she staid happy it made working hard a breeze, especially when they were in rush conditions. Marigold was quick to sow a dress, faster than her seamstresses, and knew all the dresses, where it was located in the back room and the cost. She guided Mrs. Birdie and the young lady to that room. Each dress had a purpose, each one was meant for a different occasion, each for different sizes, and for distinct body types. She took them to the back row for the perfect dress that didn’t come cheap. If they didn’t have it, they customized the dress, also for a high price, of course.

“All the dresses are customized here,” Marigold explained to the young lady. “We make sure the right dress is made for the right girl. A dress can make a girl look pretty or unflattering. A girl will always find a perfect dress, but it doesn’t mean the dress is made for the girl. We like to transform people, make them look beautiful.”

Marigold found the dress and showed it to the young lady. She pulled out three more and handed them to Mrs. Birdie, who took the young lady to one of the dressing rooms. Mrs. Waspish, another salesclerk, came through the aisle with another young woman. Mona wouldn’t have approved of her either. Mrs. Waspish was rather stern, her reddish hair added to her fiery face. She was a bit larger than Mrs. Birdie, but both shared the same age—somewhere in their fifties, but had contrasting temperaments.

Normally, Marigold would have hired only young salesclerks, but Mrs. Waspish and Mrs. Birdie had proven themselves to be valuable. The other salesclerks were in their twenties, older than Marigold, except for Stony who was closer to Marigold’s age.

This had been Mona’s dream and it was prospering under Marigold’s guidance. Though, Marigold wish things at home were as pleasant as the shop. Mona was seven months pregnant and struggled with the changes. Marigold worried about Mona’s state of mind and wondered when the baby was born that maybe Mona would return to her good humor.