It’a lazy Fiction Friday again!
Evan scrubbed at the stubborn mustard stain, which had been left by one of the café’s messiest eaters. The owner, Mr Smyth, spent a lot of money on the ornate wooden tables that were scattered haphazardly around the cafe, but refused to spend more money on tablecloths of any kind, which meant spills would often get caught between the cracks in the wood. Yet he insisted that the tables be kept pristine, which meant it was the job of whoever was closing to clean it all up.
A couple more swipes at the stain did the job and Evan sighed. He just had the outdoor area to pack up and then he shut the doors and head home. Luckily, it had been raining, so there weren’t many customers sitting outside that day. It should be pretty quick: towelling off the furniture and stacking it against the wall. His mind had already wandered off into weekend-mode when he noticed the umbrella hanging on the back of one of the chairs.
It’s kinda cute, he thought to himself. The last customer had long since left, so he put the umbrella away under the cash register, carried in the furniture, and locked the door.
“Hey, did you leave your umbrella here on Friday? It’s cute.” Marnie asked, as Evan walked through the door.
“Not mine. One of the customers left it here.” Evan replied.
“Well, it’s already lunch time, and nobody has come in to pick it up. I wonder who it belongs to.”
“Probably some little kid.”
“Nah, it’s too big to be a kid’s umbrella, I’d guess a woman.”
“Think she’s hot?”
Marnie laughed. “No idea. If I had to guess, I’d say… medium height, slim, blonde, one of those annoyingly cheerful people. Urgh.” She shuddered.
“It has doughnuts on it. Nobody who likes doughnuts is going to be slim or annoyingly cheerful. Besides, that’s such a cliché description.”
“That’s a bit of a harsh judgement! So what do you think she looks like?”
Evan titled his head, thinking. “Hmmm. I don’t know what she looks like, but I’d guess she’s childish. Maybe she’s in the food industry. She could even work at a café!”
Marnie rolled her eyes. “Typical! Criticise my guess, but dodge the question yourself!”
The sound of the door opening made both Evan and Marnie turn their heads. “What are you two arguing about now?”
Marnie smiled and showed her the umbrella while Evan began preparing her regular skinny latte and orange and poppy-seed muffin. “Good morning, Agatha. Is this yours?”
Agatha shook her head, her tight, grey bun bobbing a bit with the motion. “No.”
“We were trying to guess what the owner looks like.”
“Oh, dear. I’d have no idea, sorry.” Agatha said, as she returned the umbrella to Marnie who put it back beneath the counter.
A cold rush of air blew in. For the next two hours, the umbrella lay forgotten as the morning rush of caffeine deprived office workers began pouring in to the café. The two of them expertly juggled the grill, coffee machine and sandwich press as they prepared the orders, silently doing what needed to be done to make the morning go smoothly.
As the morning rush began to thin out, Marnie turned to Evan and asked, “So, have you decided where you’re going to go for your holiday?”
“Not yet.” Evan said. “It’s down to Hong Kong or San Francisco.”
“Both of those sound amazing. I wish I had the money to travel.” Marnie sighed, wistfully.
Evan nudged her playfully, “You would if you didn’t spend all of your money on clothes and make-up.!”
Marnie broke into a pose and pouted. “Looking this good ain’t cheap!”
Evan’s face broke into a confused smile. “I don’t know if you’re complimenting or insulting yourself.” The response he received was a piece of toast tossed at his head, which he caught and began to cover with strawberry jam.
Laura and Kevin arrived shortly after 10:30AM to help prepare the sandwich bar for the lunch rush. Marnie showed them both the umbrella. “What kind of person do you think the owner is?”
“Probably a little kid.” Kevin suggested.
“That’s what I said!” Evan interjected.
“Look how long it is though. Plus, how many kids have you seen at the café?” Laura asked.
“Hmm, that’s a good point.” Kevin said, thoughtful. “OK, I take it back. The pink doughnuts make me think it definitely belongs to a girl though.”
“Yeah.” Laura agreed.
“What do you think she looks like?” Evan asked, repeating Marnie’s question from earlier.
“I think she’s a hipster. Hipsters love doughnuts, don’t they? She probably has frizzy hair, big glasses, and messy hair, and carries around a dog-eared copy of 1964.” Kevin guessed.
“No, I think she might be the opposite. She’s a mother of three children. Has a boring job in one of the offices around here. In her mid-forties. Boring, black outfits every day. She got this umbrella as a mother’s day present and it’s probably the only colourful thing in her otherwise boring life.” said Laura.
Evan laughed, looking at Laura’s black tank top, over black skinny jeans with black shoes, but chose not to comment. “She’ll probably come in today and we’ll find out later.”
The lunch rush began to pick up, and the four of the busied themselves with serving and preparing. As the rush began to die down, a large, stocky man with tattoos down his arms approached the counter.
“Hi, I think I might have left my umbrella here yesterday.” he said in a deep voice.
The four of them looked at each other in surprise.
“What does it look like?” Evan asked, still in shock that this could be the owner of the umbrella.
“Light blue, with doughnuts on it.”
Marnie grabbed it from under the counter and handed it to him. “Oh, I’m so glad it’s still here. Thanks!”
“No problems!” she shot back. “Have a nice day!”
The grateful man left the café.
“Well. That’s not what I was expecting.” Kevin and Laura said at the same time, once they were sure he was out of earshot.
“Me, neither.” Evan said. “Oh well. You’re on closing shift today, Kevin? Mind if I head off now?”
“Yeah, It’s looking pretty dead now, so I’m going to head off, too.” said Marnie.
“Sure, go ahead. Laura and I can tidy up. See you both tomorrow!”
The background behind this story:
I bought that umbrella during our first trip to Japan (Jan 2011). It’s my favourite as it’s both my favourite colour and it has doughnuts on it. I also really like how it’s see-through, so I can still see the sky when it’s raining, but it is starting to wear out, so I might have to toss it soon. Not bad for a 1000 yen umbrella though! I have a terrible habit of leaving my umbrella behind at restaurants and shops. Fortunately, I’ve managed to get it back so far, but every time I leave it behind, I wonder if the people at the store wonder what kind of person would have a weird-looking umbrella like that.
I always imagine they picture me as a muscly black guy who works as an accountant and I know they’re disappointed when they actually see me.