In response to Linda G Hill’s Saturday stream of consciousness prompt Miss
“Miss, miss,” Iris turned to the young woman who’d called. The girl stopped in her tracks. “I’m sorry, but you forgot this.”
She offered the box holding the gift she’d purchased. Iris smiled and the girl blushed.
“Thank you miss…?”
“Dawn.” She answered. Iris smiled again and the girl beamed, as if her smile was the best reward she could get.
“Thank you Dawn. Have a good day.”
She turned and left the shop, memories clinging to her, wrapping themselves around her mind. That was the reason she forgot the box by the cashier. She and Sébastien had always loved this place; Dawn hadn’t worked here last time they came together. She missed the place; after the move, they had visited less often. And in the past few months she hadn’t come at all.
She remembered the first time they came; how could she forget? She was wearing the choker around her neck even now. They’d been together for a year and he’d wanted to offer her something meaningful, something that was beautiful and would always remind her that she was his. She’d always been into vintage jewelry and clothes although she didn’t knot that particular shop. Her go-to place had been Fashion Crimes in Toronto. But moving in with Sébastien meant changing countries and she’d only discovered a few shops that sold vintage jewelry and her style of clothing.
The shop had been a gift as much as the choker, because Seb knew she’d find everything she ever wanted here. Corsets, girdles, vintage dresses and jewelry like the one she wore on her neck. It was her way to never let go of him. She missed him so much; coming here meant admitting that she would no longer visit with him. But she had to; so that she could let go of the pain at least. Try and move on with her life. Maybe find some direction after years of letting him lead the path. She’d been her own woman, working as a senior accountant for a well respected company; but he’d been her North throughout the year, the place where she would always come back to find her centre, her footing. She’d loved him more than life itself. And he was gone. Since then she’d worn the choker almost every day; it was as if some of his essence remained with her. Because he’d chosen it, because he decided to purchase it when she hesitated.
She held the box close to her heart, as she walked towards the gardens. He hadn’t wanted to be buried; instead he was cremated. But he’d wanted his ashes to be dispersed in the beautiful Jardins du Luxembourg. She did that one day, on her own. His way of life had alienated his parents; they’d lived together without being married. Besides, his parents never liked her, the Canadian Goth girl who took their happy and serious son away from them and turned him into something they didn’t understand. She hadn’t changed him. He was the same man from the day she met him to the day he died. Iris missed him so terribly, his quick mind, his quicker laughter. She missed his love. But she couldn’t make the clock reverse. He was gone. She only had the memories of his face, his moods, his love. Time would heal the wounds they said. So time she’d purchased.
She stopped where they’d loved to sit to watch parents and their kids on Saturdays. They’d used to speculate about what it would be like to have kids. But they hadn’t been ready. They had time. Well not anymore. She stood by the statue of Minerva. There was a hole in its base, a small one that could easily be covered. She knew it was a matter of months before someone found her little present but she had to do it. He hadn’t wanted a tomb for her to go to. He hadn’t wanted to live her life by the place he’d be buried. He wanted to live. But she still needed time. She opened the box and placed the small pocket watch in the hole, then sealed it with the stone that had been chipped away from the stand by time. It might destroy the watch or protect it, she didn’t know. But time was the gift: the one that allowed the memories to be less painful even though sadness would always linger. She missed him, but she would live. She sat on the bench that she shared with him for four years every Saturday.
“Miss?” She turned. And smiled. She met Victor a month before. Here on that bench. It was time… When she smiled he beamed, as if her smile was the one thing he’d been longing for.