Picture it and write: The regular

by joetwo

Hello everyone, this is my offering for this weeks picture it and write for Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, the picture is not mine, it is used for inspiration. Anyway, enjoy.

The regular

I used to, for a time, work in a printing shop. It was an ok job, made enough to pay the rent. I considered it a bit of a stop-gap so I could develop my true calling, writing. You all know how that turned out so I won’t bore you any more about it.

The shop had a mixed clientèle. It was only a short distance from the college so we got a regular business of printing out theses, reports and posters for the students. I suppose that we really shouldn’t have laughed, but I have to giggle a little for the young men who’d come in on a Friday afternoon, half an hour before the deadline, with nothing but a memory stick and the hope that we’d have his work printed and bound in time. More than a few were shed across our desks on that account.

Apart from the college work we had, there was a lot of work from the local businesses. Menus, flyers, posters, often in job lots. When I started we had our own graphic designer but he was let go since anybody can do most of the work they want on a computer now but if they still need anybody I know my way around on a computer enough to help anyone that needs it with designing. It was much cheaper for the shop when I did it.

We also had our fair share of crazies that came to use our services. From the religious nuts and cranks printing out pamphlets to hand out on Main Street or at the Bus station. There was also that self-important fellow who got books of poetry bound for selling at the weekend market. Above all the regular that I looked forward to seeing had to have been Grace.

Grace was a bit of an enigma. Nobody knew what she did or what part of town she came from. None of the other regulars could place her either. It was as if she would come out of nowhere at the door of the shop and then cease to exist when she went back across the threshold. I didn’t care though, I thought she was gorgeous.

That Grace was a beauty was a popular opinion around the shop, she had that innocent, girl next door kind of look. Long auburn hair and the cutest little smile I had ever seen. Yep! it was not difficult to see what the attraction was.

Of course, in a university town, attractive young women come a dime a dozen. What really go me besotted with Grace was what she came to the shop to do. Every week or two, she’d bring in a bout a hundred sheets of A4 paper to be soft bound into a book. Over the time that I knew her, each page was different.

Most of the page was left blank but in the corner, at some part, there was always a lovely design on them. It could be anything, blue skies, stars, animals. Flowers were her favourite it seemed though, because they dominated. A seemingly infinite variety of shapes and colours, some obviously based on real life, others mockeries of botanical possibility. Moreover each page had a light scent, rose oil I think, it was similar to what Grace wore herself, as if it had rubbed off into the pages. Why she made these little books, I had no idea. I did try and broach the subject with her a few times but was always politely brushed off.

Apart from that, I had no other contact with Grace. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t occasionally think about this mystery customer. But I tried to get on with my life. Until this one time.

I was up early for work and I decided to stop in at a cafe on the Main Street to wait for Jim the manager to get in and open up. I got a coffee and sat at a table near the window so that I would have a view outside. I checked my phone and was about to take a drink when I noticed something.

On the table next to me, which looked like it had been recently vacated was a soft bound book, Just like what we made. The cover had a picture of flowers, it was one of Grace’s. I found that my sense of curiosity beat whatever right to privacy  I deemed to hold. I opened the book.

Each page was filled with writing, in a smooth flowing script. It was a hodgepodge free-form assemblage of pieces of verse, quotes both famous and day to day, diary type entries and little stories. It was as if the contents of her, admittedly slightly puzzling, mind was spread over the pages. What was most interesting was that I was quite prominent in it.

23rd of June, I went to the printing shop to get my new book bound, Graham talked to me while I waited (sigh!). He did that little thing with his hands again. I find it so cute. I find him cute. I also found an ode to a book-binder and a sonnet on the plaid shirts I tend to wear. I was both intrigued, surprised and a little scared when I heard the door open and a little gasp. I put down the book to find Grace looking at me, her face rapidly reddening.

Before I could say anything, she had grabbed the book and ran out the door. I had never realised. It was a full three months before I saw her again. Cooler heads prevailed and I was able to get my apology in for reading her book. For a second I thought that that would be it. But Grace plucked up the courage to ask me what I thought of what I found. I jumped at the chance and asked her for coffee to “discuss it in detail”.

After that Grace became a much more regular visitor. Dropping in nearly every day, for a chat, show me her latest writing. When I left the printing shop it wasn’t the last I saw of Grace either, not by a long shot. We’re having our first Anniversary next weekend. It’ll be a barbeque, bring your own beer, and you’re all invited.

I suppose that I could have just told you that at the start. But I like to think you enjoyed that little story. I know I enjoyed telling it.