Emily Amelia Elmore lived with two cats and a canary in her one bedroom apartment at the intersection of Main St. and Second Ave. None of her neighbors could give any particular details about her life. And they didn’t remember that she’d lived there for the better part of twenty years. Neighbors came and went, after all, so why would they?
Miss Emily – as she had once been called by her piano students – had an affinity for all things spring. This was evidenced by the fact that every square inch of her congested apartment was filled with flowers, both synthetic and real. Jasper and Jocelyn usually left poor Mr. Pickles alone in his cage. But as felines are prone to mischief, they more often were caught with a petal or two leftover from an afternoon snack of hydrangeas.
So it happened on this fine spring day that Miss Emily left her faithful companions for an afternoon stroll through her familiar neighborhood, despite the poor air quality and the overabundance of noise. She grabbed her jacket and pocket book, a velvet hat pinned to the top of her neglected wig. Her monthly hair appointment was another two days away yet.
In the hallway she met Eloise Stine, the young college graduate who lived next door and often had a handsome man glued to her side.
“Good afternoon, Eloise. Lovely day, isn’t it?”
The young lady merely rolled her eyes, a grumble too soft to be heard before she jostled her lock and entered her abode. Miss Emily smiled. Such a nice girl. I wonder if she noticed the cookies I dropped at her door this morning? As it was, the recent graduate had stepped right over them.
On went the elderly woman, down the stairs and out the door into the bright sunshine of an even brighter day. Folks rushed past, a jogger attached to the leash of a dog, a cyclist in a hurry.
“Watch it, lady!” the cyclist yelled, before he jerked his tire to avoid a collision. Miss Emily grinned and waved.
She walked and walked, until the familiar face of an almost-friend came into view. “Good afternoon, Roberta,” she said to the homeless woman who sat on the ground.
A broad smile was returned. “Well good day Miss Emily. How them cats of yours treatin’ ya? Still behavin’?”
Miss Emily returned the question with a nod as she dug deep into her pocket book, in search of treasure. She handed Roberta a granola bar and sandwich. “I didn’t forget about you. Made it just as you like it.”
Roberta shook her head. “Miss Emily… you don’t got to be doin’ this. You don’t got the money –“
The old lady only tsk’d. “If you’re lucky, I’ll have a batch of cookies for you tomorrow.” And with that she walked away, Roberta’s hearty laugh two steps behind and an echo in the alley.
Next she found the drugstore, a prescription and sleeping pills on her list of things to pick up. Miss Emily waited in line an awfully long time, but she didn’t mind much, since there was only one cashier.
“Good afternoon, Sally,” she greeted the employee.
Miss Emily slid her bankcard through the reader, only to get a buzz.
“You pressed the wrong button, sweetie,” Sally said, as she punched her screen to reset it.
Miss Emily slid the card again, with the same response.
“No worries,” Sally said. “I’ll do it for you.”
The man in line behind Miss Emily huffed a breath and looked at his watch for the third time in a minute. She gave him a smile but he only looked toward the door.
“There ya go, sweetie. All done,” Sally said, and she handed Miss Emily her bag of meds. “See you next week.”
Miss Emily stopped at the door to adjust her hat, the pins now loose.
“Uh, sir… you’re fifty cents short,” Sally said to the man in line.
“Are you sure? I thought this was on sale?”
“Not this brand. Sorry, sir.”
“What? All I’ve got is a five-dollar bill. You sure there’s no discount I could get?”
Miss Emily fished some coins from her pocket book and shuffled back to Sally. The tinkle of metal as they slipped into the cashier’s fingers overshadowed the soft sighs of frustration from the woman that stood behind the short-changed man.
He looked to Miss Emily, confusion in his eyes. “Erm… thanks.” Then he was out the door without a glance back.
She headed outside, a bounce in her step as she walked away from the sun, ready to return home to Jasper and Jocelyn and Mr. Pickles. Tires screeched at the crosswalk marked ‘Caution: Slow your wheels. Yield to pedestrians’. Miss Emily stopped short as a red sports car swerved around her, the driver with a harsh look and even harsher words on his tongue. A large grin that made her eyes crinkle was all he got in return.
Her walk was over, the climb up the stairs unusually hard on her knees, although she couldn’t think of another reason to be more grateful than the ability to climb them. Her key slipped into her lock, a click from the door beside hers.
“Oh, hey, Miss Emily,” Eloise said. “Sorry about my bad mood earlier. Didn’t mean to take it out on you.” A shift; a pause. “Thanks for the cookies, too. I really appreciated it.”
Miss Emily smiled. “It was my pleasure, dear heart. Say, would you like some afternoon tea? I’ve got the time, if you’d like to talk.”
The girl’s cheeks pinked. “I’d like that.”
© Laura L. Zimmerman 2016