a wee cheesy story
March 16, 2019 § 3 Comments
A pair of green wellies walked in – inside them was the girl from the flower shop four doors down – and he knew without looking in the mirror that his ears had turned the colour of the apples he’d piled up in the wicker basket on the counter. The deli was seething with lunchtime customers and Toby was wishing he hadn’t given the new girl the day off. He tried to concentrate on serving the queue that was snaking through the door. ‘I’m sorry,’ he said to the man with the straw hat and red polka dot shirt. ‘How much Camembert did you say?’
The man lifted his chin and looked down his nose. ‘Two hundred grammes, please. I’ll take a slice of the ripe one.’ He pointed to the round flat Camembert sagging gently in the middle, its creamy insides oozing onto the plate.
Toby sighed, put on his best smile and leaned forward into the cheese cabinet. ‘Of course, sir.’
The girl from the flower shop had orange hair like his, and Toby decided as he’d watched her arranging buckets of flowers on the pavement last week that he might just be falling in love. Her hair didn’t stick out like his at odd angles; it was darker and smoother, and she had gathered it up on the top of her head with a pair of black chopsticks. Stray wisps had escaped, and she brushed them away from her pale face as she inspected the artisan breads in the window. Toby imagined running his fingers through her silky hair and holding it to his lips.
‘That’s not the one I want,’ said the polka dot shirt. ‘I asked for the ripest.’
‘Whoops,’ said Toby. My mistake.’ His stomach was beginning to feel as if there was a bird in there trying to get out. Pull yourself together, he chanted under his breath.
‘Are you alright?’ asked the man. ‘Your lips are moving but no words are coming out.’
‘So sorry,’ Toby lied. ‘I feel a bit out of sorts today.’ He weighed the slice of Camembert and wrapped it neatly in a parcel of grease proof paper decorated with pictures of fig leaves. ‘That’ll be three pounds sixty, please.’
The girl had chosen a green olive and pumpkin seed loaf, and was inspecting the chutneys displayed along the back wall. She had a neat, slender back and Toby could see the pale skin and fine blue veins on the backs of her knees.
He tried to put her out of his mind and concentrate on the queue of customers. Heaving a sigh of relief, he looked up to greet the last one. It was HER. There she was, smiling up at him with her pale green eyes. She was close enough to touch. Toby’s stomach gurgled.
‘You need lunch too, then?’ she laughed. He’d been planning this moment and now the words refused to come out.
‘Err…. I suppose I do,’ he mumbled weakly.
Her teeth were large and even, and she tucked an escaped strand of her glossy hair behind an ear and tilted her head to one side. ‘Can you recommend a cheese to go with this bread, please?’ She placed it on the counter. Her hands were small and fine, her fingers long and shapely. Toby stared. ‘I had a delicious cheese at a friend’s last week,’ she continued. ‘But I forget the name. It smelled of pine needles and was wrapped in some sort of bark.’
Toby pinched himself. ‘That’s probably Vacherin Mont D’or, and we just happen to have some.’ He continued staring, not able to believe she was so close. ‘Shall I cut you a sliver to taste?’
‘That would be perfect, thank you.’
Toby remembered to smile and decided he had definitely fallen in love.
‘I’m Chloe,’ she said. ‘I work at the flower shop.’
‘I know you do,’ he said. I’m Toby.’ And as he passed her the piece of cheese on a plate, their hands brushed.
‘I know who you are too…’, she said slowly. ‘I’ll take a hundred and fifty grammes please. Perhaps enough for two.’