This is another installment of my novel, in progress. More pieces here.
Sarah waited in a vinyl-covered, yet surprisingly comfortable chair at the edge of the central court. The mall quiet enough in this second week of December to worry even the most seasoned mall retailer. The windows were bright and filled with shiny sparkly things that made even environmentally obsessed Sarah want to buy shiny sparkly things she didn’t need just to feel that infectious Christmas shopping happiness.
A regular stream of parents trickled slowly into the exit line for Santa’s photo gallery, each told by the somehow still smiling staff to go to the poorly marked entrance line, surrounded by a greenish fabric covered rope. One of these groupings was a mother, father and what looked like grandparents surrounding in adoration a small girl in a stroller. The girl, who basked in a beam of adoration as bright as Christ in the manger, wore a beautiful royal blue velvet dress. Sarah was struck by how perfect she looked, how happy. The colour of her little dress, neither too plain nor too fussy, in a rich, deep colour of plush velvet that looked luxuriously soft. Her rosy, peaches and cream cheeks and bright delighted blue eyes smiled up into the love that was her due. Her daddy lifted her from the stroller and carried her around to the correct entrance.
Sarah found her eyes and then her cheeks, suddenly wet. All that love for a little girl. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. She thought back in her mind to all the pictures that had been taken of her as an infant, and could only recall ever seing one. In the picture, a smiling, chubby baby is surrounded by a papasan chair in black and white. The baby, herself probably before she experienced any severe damage, is wearing a plain white terry-cloth onesie. There is no-one holding her or gazing adoringly at her, except perhaps the person taking the photo.
In the mall, it didn’t seem to matter that she was crying, that the man in the chair next to her might notice, that someone walking by might notice. It just didn’t matter. Sometimes you have to let people see, she told herself.
Her partner walked toward her with a brisk, businesslike walk. Places to go, shopping to do, his body posture said to the world. She looked at him and decided to let him see it too. She said “there was a little girl in a blue velvet dress. She looked so loved it made me cry”.
Her partner frowned. “cry?” he asked, but not like he really wanted to know.
She tried again “I don’t think anyone ever took me to take a picture with Santa Claus”. What she meant was, “no-one took pictures of me because they thought I was wonderful and that all the relatives needed a copy”.
Her partner began walking, his body language lacking any encouragement to continue. Sarah gave up and started a conversation about the groceries they needed to buy. It seemed like nothing much had changed.