In a tiny town such as the one where this particular baby boutique was based, the same familiar faces were often churned up in the daily grind. No one was more memorable however, than the lady who features in my next story…
Nestled next to the children’s shop was a quaint tea house that made its fortune though yummy mummy caffeine doses and senior specials. It was on my first working weekday that I was going about my morning routine when I heard a high-pitched sound surfacing from outside. After ignoring it for a second or two, I was coerced into caring when it grew several decibels, and it dawned on me that it was someone attempting to sing. Regrettably this voice was neither soothing nor relaxing, but once I had conquered the initial prickly pierce to the ears it was somewhat entertaining.
I wandered over to the window in an attempt to see from whom this jumbled up version of Fly Me To The Moon was coming from. I’m not entirely sure of where my expectations existed, but they certainly weren’t to be found in the image I was about to set eyes on… A white haired lady dressed in a polka dot patterned dress and soft soled shoes. Contently she sat with her mug of tea, oblivious to the stares of the other, calmer, coffee morning customers.
After watching her for a while, attempting to guess her choice of song every time a new melody hit the airwaves – a much meaner feat that it sounds – I noticed that I was the only local who had been distracted by this ruckus. This, and a few consecutive days of being presented with the same act,informed me that this was no alien presence of a weekday morning. This lady, whether one liked it or not, came hand in hand with the OAP coffee break.
I also quickly learnt that her morning routine would include an amble around my shop. She would open the door, I would greet her, she would ignore me, but she would murmur tales of a troubled past beneath her breath. Besides her piercing warbles, these whispers were the only thing I would ever hear leave her mouth. It was perhaps her only means of stopping the memories, for when she wasn’t whispering she would sing, and when she wasn’t singing she would whisper, there was never a moment of silence in between.
She would go from garment to garment, grazing fine velour with greasy fingers and often leaving traces of ketchup behind. Then she would walk away ahead of audible trails of wind, prompting me to realise why there was a can of air freshener behind the till.
Until one day she stopped. Her clockwork routine was no longer inclusive of me or my efforts of cleaning in her wake. I must say it was a relief. Nevertheless, to this day she still attends every coffee morning, eats her over 60’s special and sings. Some days fairly loudly, other days rather softly, I guess it depends on how haunting her whispers are that day.