Posted: 27 May 2010
Word Count: 469
Summary: My attempt at week 307 challenge. A re working of an oldie.
Heather had a secret, one that could only be kept for a finite time, but still fun while it lasted. Heather was prone to casual labour, it suited her personality, she worked in a large shopping arcade as a seasonal gift wrapper; there was really no call for her expertise any other time of the year but Christmas. There she stood day in day out at her little makeshift booth right outside Sock Shop and opposite Doodles Donuts – more than a hole in the middle.
Her feet ached and her calf muscles throbbed, but still she wrapped.
“Any colour preference for the ribbon Madam? Silver with snowflakes or the gold with bells Sir?
Her shift began at nine and finished at six, sometimes she did a double leaving for home at ten, after all £5.75 an hour was not to be sniffed at.
There were several booths dotted around the arcade, all far enough apart to keep each wrapper permanently at the ready with cello tape and scissors.
The wrappers were mostly school leavers or grannies, Heather was the exception. She wasn’t really a people person but even she noticed there were many different types of shoppers.
Happy, gregarious people who loved Christmas and all it stood for, they were few and far between. Stressed parents who wished there really was a Santa Claus so they could dispense with the responsibility and save a fortune in the process. Old ladies spending their pensions on goods their relatives would never need nor want. Secret lovers with a twinkle in their eye and expensive jewellery as their offering. Rude customers who wouldn’t look her in the eye and ignored her helpful requests while chatting away constantly on their mobile phones.
It all began on the day that wretched pigeon crapped on her favourite cashmere cardigan. It had been a gift from her aunt and was rather special. She’d tried to wash it off but the soft wool was now stiff and spiky and the lovely azure blue slightly paler in tone. That’s when it began, what Heather refers to as her ‘Christmas Swapping’. After the customer had left their goods in her care saying they’d be back in an hour or so, Heather would get creative. They needn’t necessarily have offended her; sometimes it was just pure devilment on her part.
Digital cameras in boxes were exchanged for scented bath salts just the right size. Computer games became recipe books and sexy gossamer stockings - gardening gloves.
Oh what a surprise they’d all get come Christmas morning and what a terrible fuss there would be on Boxing Day when they came back to the store fuming and flustered, clutching receipts and demanding an explanation. But Heather would be long gone, after all a Christmas job – is just for Christmas
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