For Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #141, where we write about the image below from Natalya Vaitkevich @ Pexels.com.
Late, late, late!
Cerys snatched one last gulp of her now-tepid instant coffee, as she searched for her missing car keys. Spying the glint of silver on the kitchen counter she hastily snatched the keyring and kissed the dozing Mandu goodbye, as she hurried through the freshly-painted door. Bumping swiftly along a narrow hallway, she stooped to collect the small bundle of mail, freshly delivered. Without paying the letters any further attention, she dashed from the house.
Stuffing the mail into the inside pocket of her smart, leather jacket, she maintained her pace until she was safely in her car.
Late, late, late!
And she could ill afford it, not today. Assignments – any assignments – were hard enough to come by, so when that catalogue work had come through, how could she possibly refuse? She knew vaguely where this guy’s studio was, but at that time of day, she’d be pushing it.
Why was she so disorganised? She had never been like this before Gary had gone, but she was left with no choice but to kick him out, after she found out about the affair. And overnight, Cerys had become a singleton once again. At first, loneliness was the biggest problem, and so she’d sought a rescue cat. She had renamed him, rather wittily, she thought. But Mandu didn’t care what she called him, so long as Cerys provided him with bed and board.
The decision to redecorate had taken longer, but Cerys was happy to have made up her mind. This was now her space, not their’s, and after six years of sharing, it was time to stamp her own identity on the place.
As it happened, the traffic was good that day, and Cerys just about arrived in time. Crossing a quaint courtyard, she ascended a spartan staircase. On the wall were various framed photographs, and Cerys recognised some of the faces among them.
Crossing a landing covered in carpet tiles – no expense spared – a white door stood in front of her. To it’s right was a smart plastic sign, “J. Lloyd, Photographic Studio”. She knocked, and the door was answered by a grey-haired, fifty-something man carrying a spotlight.
“Hi there. I’m looking for John?”
“Cerys? Come in, my dear. I was expecting you”, as he beckoned her in and turned away. Over his shoulder, he nodded at two sofas in what must have been the “reception” area, adding, “Make yourself comfortable. Let me just finish setting this light and I’ll be right with you.”
He’s nice enough, thought Cerys as she waited. Better than a lot of photographers I’ve worked with.
True to form, a coffee to start, along with a polite man behind the camera, Cerys relaxed and the session went smoothly.
They concluded the shoot shortly before lunch, and John made the pair another coffee.
“Here, the photographs will already have uploaded to the server, so if you give me ten minutes, I’ll have a quick look through them and pick out a few of the best. And, as the shoot had finished early, Cerys agreed. Though the catalogues themselves made the final decisions, they often placed a lot of faith in photographers’ recommendations. As John turned to leave Cerys for the moment, he caught her admiring some artwork hanging on the wall, and explained, “my partner. We both share this studio space”.
Leaving Cerys nursing her coffee, John suggested that she could look through some of his portfolio, wafting at a large bookcase with a shelf full of binders.
Feeling pleased with a job well done, Cerys flicked through one of the binders, although she still wanted to preserve as much of her day as possible, and if she could get out of here soon, she might be on time to meet girlfriend Suzanne for that coffee and catch up, after all. Cerys took her jacket from the ornate coat rack, and as she was putting it on, she felt the bundle of letters in the pocket. She might as well read them, while she waited.
Nothing remarkable, until she came to a white envelope franked Baldwin, Clark and Spencer. Huh? Who on earth were they? But it was definitely her name and address peeping through the window and she peeled the letter from its envelope.
As Cerys read, the shock of the letter forced her to sit back down as her head began to spin. Lawyers… instructed by Gary Hooper… divorce proceedings…