• Lisa Alex Gray

The Serendipitous Life of Ruby Slippers (Chapter Two - Romantic Comedy Novel)

The sound of a TV blaring, from the floor below, wakes me from my sleep and I sit up in bed feeling disoriented. My eyes are heavy and thick and my body is achy. Maybe I’m getting the flu?

I slowly get out of bed, and head in the direction of my closet, when my foot catches on something, causing me to stumble. I look back to identify the offending object and..it’s the shoe box. Suddenly memories of last night roll in like a dark cloud.

I walk over and kick the box hard in the direction of my bed, causing the lid to pop off and papers to fly out and scatter everywhere. Crap. I debate leaving it, then think better of it. The last thing I need is my mother finding the papers, especially “Ruby’s Goals”. I’d never hear the end of it.

I walk over to the box and crouch down, stuffing the papers back in, then grab the lid, cram it on, and shove the box far under my bed, making sure there’ll be no reappearance.

I get up and head over to the closet glancing at my clock on the way. What? Its 9:30 am?

Crap! I overslept. I’m going to be late for work. I grab some random clothes from the closet and head to the bathroom.

Twenty-five minutes later I punch in at Bertson’s Grocers with two minutes to spare. Okay, that was way to close. All I need is to be late and lose my job. In fact, as my mother often reminds me, I’m lucky to have this job. Which is actually true, because working at Bertson’s has become my sanctuary. If I didn’t have it as an excuse to get out of the house on a regular basis, I think I might eventually commit a crime...involving my mother.

And, there were things I liked about the job; like talking to the customers, and the math involved in reconciling my drawer, at the end of my shift. But my favorite part of the job was by far my work friend Eveey. She was the coolest person I've ever met.

Eveey was an artist, who lived in her own house; inherited from her grandma. She was so confident and funny and loved shows on the BBC - just like me. We spent our lunch hour going over the latest BBC shows, giving our critics of the characters, and their stories, and speculating on what we thought might happen next. Eveey was my bright buoy in an otherwise dark sea.

After I punch in for my shift and grab my work shirt from my locker, I walk past the break room, where I hear people laughing. Quickly I reach up and smooth my hair, and run a hand over my face, then catch myself. Urrgh, stop it, Ruby. Why do you always have to be so self-conscious? I look over at the people in the break room and notice there all watching something on one of their phones. See, you were wrong. Do you always assume the worst?

The answer to that, of course, is yes. I’ve never really felt like I fit in with other people. It’s like I’ve been living on one side of a glass wall, peering in at life on other, desperate to figure out how to get over there.

I head to the front office for my drawer, and my heart leaps when I notice Eveey’s blonde curls in the distance, yippee, I forgot she was working today. I up my pace, excited to say hi. Eveey looks up at me, as I arrive, and smiles, “Jane Eyre”, she says dramatically, “pretty awesome”.

Crap, I forgot all about Jane Eyre. “Oh...yeah...Uh...I didn't watch it.” I say embarrassed.

“What happened?”, Eveey frowns, “You were so psyched to see it.”

I grab my drawer and busy myself organizing the bills in each slot, not wanting to make eye contact, “Something came up...no big deal, they’ll probably air it again,” I say trying to sound nonchalant.

“Don’t tell me...did something happen with your mom?” Eveey grimaces. I look over at her in surprise, then back down at my drawer, mortified. Crap, How does she always know? It’s not like I talk to her about my mother. But she did meet her in the store once, and ever since, she seems to have a pretty good idea about us.

The problem is... as much as Eveey thinks she knows about us, she doesn’t know everything. She doesn’t know the real reason behind what’s going on with my mother and I. That’s a piece of history I keep to myself. In fact, who knows if Eveey would even be my friend if she knew the truth.

I shake the memory from my mind and look up from my drawer, noticing Eveey looking my way, with sympathy. “Your right...” she says, then smiles, “they always replay these shows, besides you didn’t miss much, the 2011 version with Mia Wasikowska, is still the best”. Then Eveey shifts gears, “Hey, do you wanna have lunch together today? I have to tell you about this new guy I met.” she rolls her eyes dramatically.

I smile back grateful for the change of subject, “yes, I’d love to” I respond, trying to sound chipper, then I walk over to my register, punch in my code, and put my drawer in.

My conveyor belt starts rolling forward with a tub of margarine, and I smile up at my customer, actually happy to have something else to occupy my mind.

Most of my eight-hour shift goes by quickly, especially with the entertaining lunchtime story of Eveey’s hilarious date.

I spend the last hour of my shift stocking magazines in the checkout lanes, which I actually love doing, the magazine covers are fun to read, especially The Enquirer.

Opening the last box of magazines, I see the new month of Martha Stewart, with a headline, “Start Your Own Craft Business - Make Jewelry From Home.”

I’m instantly intrigued, so I look around to see if any store managers are nearby, then open the magazine and quickly flip to the correct page. There’s a beautiful image of sparkly earrings, wooden beaded bracelets, and necklaces with leather accents.

The article goes on to explain just how easy it is to set up a craft business from the comfort of your own home, for just pennies, and sell your finished products at local farmer's markets and online.

I quickly scan the rest of the four-page article, then feel guilty, and close the magazine, placing it on the shelf.

I finish shelving the rest of the magazines just in time for my shift to end.

After returning my smock to my locker, I head to the front of the store and grab a shopping cart, then make my way down the aisles with the shopping list my mother gave me that morning.

Twenty minutes later I watch the last of my items run down the conveyor belt, as a thought grabs my attention.

I look up at the cashier and say, “I forgot something, one second”. Quickly, I leave the register, returning moments later, then place the additional item on the conveyor belt and watch her ring it in and add it to my bags.

After I load the groceries into my trunk, I grab the item out of one of the bags before shutting the trunk, then get into the driver's seat and carefully place the item on the passenger side.

I start the engine, then pause to look down at the magazine next to me, a smile begins to form on my face, as I pull out of the parking lot to head for home.

Click Here to Go to Chapter Three