Published on August 6th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie0
Ann’s Story: Chapter Twelve ‘Curiosity’
And suddenly it was all over and Ann was officially unemployed.
On her last day she had cleared out her desk with a feeling of surreality, it hadn’t taken long, mostly just old papers and accumulated notebooks.
At lunchtime William Johnson handed over her redundancy cheque for twenty thousand euro advising her to bring it straight to a bank,
‘You don’t want to be walking around with that in your handbag,’ he smiled, before shaking her hand and once again wishing her all the best for the future. Ann reciprocated and thanked him.‘Why don’t you take the rest of the day off’, he had said.
And that was that, her 15 years at Johnson and Roberts was over.
At the farewell meal later that night Julie and Alice presented her with a bouquet of flowers and a gold pendant. Ann was deeply touched at their generosity and thoughtfulness and told them so.
‘We will miss you.’ said Alice. ‘The place just won’t be the same without you.’
But Ann knew from experience that everyone can be done without and she was well aware that within a few months, or perhaps even weeks, they would have forgotten all about her as they got to know the new partner and his secretary.
She was the one who would find it difficult to let go, yet she realized she would have to forget about the place that had played such a huge part in her life for so long.
And then the meal was also over and it was time to say goodbye to the girls. Both of them hugged her and told her to keep in touch, ‘we can meet up for lunch,’ Julie had volunteered.
‘Of course we can and you can tell me all about the new people,’ said Ann. But they all knew that would probably never happen.
Later as she was about to open the gate to her home, Thelma suddenly appeared at her front door dressed in a lilac dressing gown and called her over.
Ann crossed the road and followed Thelma into the kitchen where she put on the kettle.
‘Could I ask you a favour Ann?’ Thelma said looking at her hopefully, with raised arched eyebrows.
But before Ann could answer she continued, ‘”I am going away for a couple of days on business and I was wondering would you look after the house for me till I come back?” Just turn on the light in the hall at night and pull the curtains over in the evening and in the morning, that sort of thing.’
‘Sure’ said Ann wondering where she was going. But Thelma didn’t offer any more information.
‘Oh thank you so much’ she said, pouring out the tea with one hand and beginning to take biscuits from a tin with another.
‘None for me, thanks Thelma. I’ve just been out for a goodbye meal with the girls from work.’
‘Oh yes of course I forgot today was your last day, tell me all about it,’ she said sounding genuinely interested.
As Ann continued talking about her night out, she spotted a stack of heavy ringed business files on the worktop. She was intrigued, and that night as she lay in bed, she began to wonder how Thelma earned a living. She had said she was an artist and writer with published articles, but Ann could see no evidence of paint brushes or art in the house. Neither did she know what she had written.
But she was tired after her night out so didn’t think too much about it and soon fell asleep.
The next morning Thelma was at the door with the keys to her house. She looked fabulous as usual, in a long, light blue fine-knit cardigan over white cotton trousers and top, her long hair was lose and she had on a panama hat with a blue band.
‘Thank you so much Ann, I really appreciate this. I’ll see you on Wednesday.’
She reached over and kissed Ann on the cheek and she was gone.
Ann looked out through the window as Thelma got into her car. She now had mobile phone up to her ear and she looked in serious conversation with someone. Ann’s curiosity was whetted even more.
But she decided she had spent enough time wondering about Thelma and it was time to get her own life in order and the first item on the list was to sell the sideboard.
Stella at the antique shop had given her the name and number of where to bring it to auction. So without further delay she rang and made an appointment to meet the owner.
Then she set about cleaning out more rubbish from the house, she spent most of Saturday at that particular task before preparing something to eat. At 8:30 that evening she crossed over to Thelma’s house to pull the curtains. Once inside she couldn’t resist taking a look around even though she knew the reason Thelma had asked her was because she trusted her not to do just that.
But she so wanted to peek inside her closet. Ann felt a little guilty but her desire to see the contents of Thelma’s closet was stronger than any guilt.
So before she knew where she was, she was pushing open the door of Thelma’s bedroom, it still looked spic and span. Then, feeling as if she was about to enter an Aladdin’s cave, she turned the key on the closet.
Pulling back the door, Ann gasped at the number of expensive evening gowns in a range of sumptious colours and styles. Then there were the cocktail dresses and the amazing shoes.
She pulled out a drawer at the bottom of the closet to reveal the most gorgeous silk underwear in pale pinks, lemon and blue along with sexy black lacy camisoles. A beautiful smell of perfume wafted up to meet her and the luxurious feel of silk was wonderful.
Ann, who had about three bras at home and who bought her cotton knickers in packs of five, definitely felt she had been neglecting herself somehow.
Then closing the door of the closet she hurried back out to the kitchen where she noticed that all of the files she had seen the night before were now gone from the worktop. She felt slightly disappointed. She’d love to have seen what was in them. Then she pulled the curtains, turned the light on in the hall and left, locking the door behind her.
As she settled back down to watch the TV at home, her mind kept wandering back to the bulging closet of stunning gowns and silk lingerie.
She thought of her own red-sequined guilty pleasure hanging lonely in the wardrobe and it didn’t seem that exotic after all.
She cringed when she remembered the day she had brought the dress over to show Thelma and how she had gone into ecstasy over it, even though she had at least a dozen much more fabulous dresses in her own closet.
‘Where does she wear them?’ wondered Ann and how did she pay for them?
Ann was even more puzzled.