I was surprised but not too surprised to see him. It was more like a ‘well shit’ moment for me.
“Have we met before?” he asked furrowing his eyebrows. He looked like he knew me, but he wasn’t really sure. “Yeah...I’m Maren DeVito’s best friend.” I reminded him making him ‘oh’.
“Brandy? Is it?” he asked.
“Beverley.” I corrected.
“Oh! My bad!” he chuckled embarrassed. “I’m guessing that you want to pay for your items?”
“Yes.” I pushed the basket towards him.
We didn’t say a word. I was just standing there as he was checking my items one by one. I wasn’t much of a talkative person or one to start small talk since I never had anything to say or talk about, especially with Matthew since we rarely talked outside of greetings. Even if that was the case, I still felt uncomfortable with the silence.
“So...” I said awkwardly breaking the silence. “you work here?”
“Yep. It’s my second job. I’m a fulltime photographer and a part time cashier at a stationery store.” He answered with a smile.
“How come I’ve never seen you? I come here frequently enough to know the employees here.”
“I’m mostly busy with photoshoots and other photography related stuff during the day. So, I usually take nightshifts.” He explained.
“But don’t you get a fabulous amount of money as a photographer?” I arched an eyebrow.
“The pay is good,” he answered with a fair to middling expression. “though I get a little less than any other photographer, it’s still a good pay. But it doesn’t hurt to get some extra cash on the side.”
“Hmm.” I pursed my lips. “So, what made you work on a Friday afternoon?”
“I had no work today, so I decided to take a dayshift instead of sitting on my arse bored at home.”
“Are you off work because of preparations for the Eaglesvale trip and the gala?” I asked. “Maren told me about it.”
He looked at me with an arched brow. “Well no...I decided to take the day off from being a photographer is all.” He told me. “I’m still yet to decide if I want to go to the gala.”
“Well, Maren is going, and she wants to take me with her.”
“Isn’t she taking her boyfriend?”
“He bailed on her - again.”
His eyebrows went up before he cringed and sucked his teeth. “I take it she didn’t receive it well.” He concluded.
I chuckled. “You’d think she would be used to it by now, but from how upset she was, she was really looking forward to taking him on this trip.” I said.
“Till this day, I still wonder why she’s still dating him. I know Maren is smart enough to see nonsense, but she can be really silly when it comes to her boyfriend.” He shook his head and sighed. “Are you going with her?”
“Not yet. She suggested I come since she doesn’t want me celebrating my birthday at home doing nothing.” I shrugged. “I wasn’t planning on doing anything on my birthday. My dad and grandma would probably wake me up by singing happy birthday, and then probably have dinner at home. It’s a family thing.”
“Sounds boring.” He snorted a laugh before furrowing his eyebrows. “You still live with your parents?”
“Yeah, I know. You’d think a girl my age would be living on her own doing ‘Big Girl Stuff’ but that’s not really the case with me.” I replied with a sardonic laugh.
Matthew’s eyebrows rose, pursing his lips. “Well I guess that explains why your life is as boring as Maren told me it was. No offense.” I quirked an eyebrow. “Maren never shuts up about you. If anything, she talks more about you than she ever does about her boyfriend. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ended up breaking up with him and ended up with you.”
I laughed at his remark. “Well she is a demisexual, but she doesn’t have that kind of emotional connection with me.” I said.
That was the first full conversation I had ever had with him - and it felt nice. I don’t know why but it just did. It kinda made me wish I should have tried to talk to him all those times I came to Maren’s sessions. “Anything else?” he inquired after packing the last of my items.
“Nah, I think I’m good.” I said until I remembered. “Say, do y’all still sell kids fairy tale books?”
“I think so, though there aren’t many of them since parents these days don’t buy them. We keep most of them in the storage cabin.” He stated. “Is there a specific one you want?”
"The Little Mermaid. The original by some Danish author from the 1800s.”
“Hans Christian Andersen?”
He sucked his teeth and gave me an indefinite look. “I wouldn’t recommend reading that book to kids.” He said. “Most of the original fairy tales are rare to find since no parent wants to scar their child. But this store has them in the storage for reasons far beyond me.”
“How bad can it be? It’s not like the Disney movies are any better.” I rolled my eyes. “We had a thief get swallowed alive by a tiger monument in Aladdin, we had a young peasant woman being held captive by a wolfman with horns in Beauty and the Beast, we had two princes kiss two unconscious princesses in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Sleeping Beauty. We had a baby deer watch his mother get killed by hunters in Bambi - and don’t get me started on the nightmare fuel in Pinocchio.”
“True, but the original versions of the movies you just mentioned are far much darker than their Disney counterparts. The Little Mermaid is no different.”
“Well...though the original and the movie have the same plot, there are some things that Disney changed in the movie that was in the original. Like the part where Arial magically had her voice taken, she had her tongue cut out in the original.”
My lips dropped into a surprised frown and my eyes grew wide, almost as though they were going to pop out of my sockets. “And spoiler alert, you can forget about the happily ever after in the Disney Movie. The prince married someone else.”
After blinking a few times and processing such information, I put my hands together and pressed them against my lips and looked down. “What drugs was this man on when he wrote this story?” I asked, making Matthew burst in laughter. “Seriously. Who told this man it was a good idea to publish it and allow children to read it?”
“Well, I guess back then the only way to get kids in line was instilling fear. That always had been the case since that time until the early twentieth century.” He replied.
“Well shit,” I remarked. “Disney knew what they were doing then.”
“There are some adapted films that follow the original version. I actually watched one of them before watching the Disney movie when I was in primary school. I forgot about it until I watch a Messed Up Origins video reviewing The Little Mermaid.”
“Huh,” I noted. “well it’s a good thing I don’t plan on reading that to the kids I teach in art class. Or my nephew. It’s actually for my Literature module.”
“I see...” he said. “but though the story is dark, it’s pretty interesting.” He vanished down the counter. “But you’ll start questioning life after reading it - ah! Here it is.” He re-emerged with the book and passed it to me.
I examined the book. The cover had a picture of a young mermaid swimming with a dolphin and some small fish. Her hair was ornamented with small pearls as half of it shielded her breasts and the other half ran freely as she swam. The scales on her hips were clustered close together forming a triangular pattern. Her fins were red mixed with blue. Her lips were plump. Her eyes were inquisitive yet adventurous. The art was nice
“Relish every good memory you have of the Disney film. You’ll never look at it the same after that.” He said.
“Funny.” I deadpanned narrowing my eyes at him, slapping the cash on the counter.
“Have a nice day,” he chuckled giving me the change.
I took my plastic bag and turned my heels preparing to leave. “Beverley,” he stopped me. I looked at him. “It was lovely talking to you.” He smiled.
I returned the smile. “Likewise,” I said and left the store.