It’s an unusually sunny day and I’m in the sort of mood where even grocery shopping could be fun, rather than the usual chore. It’s the type of day where one might speed through the aisles of the supermarket, before racing home to offload and go to the beach.
The doorbell rings. Peering through the little keyhole my shoulders slump and I find myself wishing to teleport away, very quickly.
Penelope: Is anyone home, dear?
I open the door; she and Andrew step inside, followed by a second man.
Andrew: Please let me introduce you. Jim, this is our tenant. Jim owns and runs –
Me: – the bookstore up on Birch Street, yes. I was there the other day.
Jim looks delighted.
Jim: Why yes, you were. Did you enjoy the other books? I just knew you had to be a literature scholar!
He admires the various bookshelves stacked with three peoples’ combined books.
Andrew: And such a good collection, so sensible to buy second-hand. Vastly more effective. Even better when you combine your literature with the non-fiction of a biologist and a soon-to-be environmental lawyer.
Me: How do you know that?
Andrew: Oh, Jim mentioned it the other day. Said something about the literary customer in his store; her description matched you. He’s very good at reading people.
Penelope clears her throat and extends a bag, inside of which is a Tupperware box and a shoe box. Reluctantly, I accept it. Inside is a slab of cake and a pair of flip-flops.
Jim: They’re perfect for when you go to the beach. and the cake goes well with a cup of tea, the bags for which you will find in the little Ziploc bag.
Warily, I put the Tupperware on the bench and the shoe box on the ground.
Me: Thank you. This is very kind.
Penelope: Oh, this is a new recipe. It’s carrot, walnut and honey. A little unusual, some might think, but it works. Just try it. She checks her watch. We must go.
Jim: And one last thing? I know you’re in between studies right now. Take the computer-based job. It’ll be the perfect challenge, which you’ll enjoy.
They move, synchronized, to the door.
This time the cake is not iced.