quinta-feira, 2 de novembro de 2017

9 ways to live Pride and Prejudiciously - chapter 1

hello,
So, as I said before, here I start putting my healing process to action.

It's an unpretentious love story composed of nine short stories reliving Pride and Prejudice over and over. I am a die-hard Janeite, any excuse is a good enough excuse to experience Darcy & Lizzy for me, so here I'll do it left and right and upside down.

So, shall we start this adventure?


Nine ways to live Pride and Prejudiciously
WIP, modern (mostly), adult (you know me...), fun, fluff, heart healing stuff.

CHAPTER 1
A heart full of ideas

Bertha smiled, nodded her agreement, scanned the client's phone for her app QR code, stabbed the computer adding free espresso shots and asked for the name to scribble on the cup. 

‘Mark with a K.’ The girl said. 

Bertha frowned. 

‘I miss my boyfriend, this way it'll be like hi’s around here when you call out.’ 

‘Ok.’ Bertha rolled her shoulders and wrote Kark with her sharpie. It always made the costumers' day when she misspelled their names.

‘Go, B. Your break's up.’ Another cashier arrived close behind the coffee house counter. ‘I can handle the line.’

‘Are you sure? We can double.’ Bertha smiled- not exactly to the pimpled faced girl but to the apron she had sewed herself, including the store logo hand embroidered. It was a beauty.

‘Yeah.’ The girl waved her off. ‘Next!’ She cried out to the line of anxious coffee starving people.

Once at the back tables nesting her mug of hot coffee and milk, Bertha loaded her messages app. Mom, sisters, the friend who would be staying over. She chose that smiling face and put the cell phone to her ear. ‘Hey, B. Arrived in town safely, forgot how chaotic it is! Wow! Look, there are still a couple of documents missing from my files. Could I use your store´s back tables to fill these up and try to bring back before-’

‘Oh, hi!’ Bertha looked smiling and put down her phone. ‘Was just hearing you!’

‘Dear, B!’ Lottie opened her arms for a bear hug the two friends didn't share for long months, maybe years. ‘Why do we wait so long to meet?’

‘You don't like to leave Merytown...’ Bertha smiled sideways.

‘And you dislike coming back.’ Lottie lowered her tote to the floor. ‘We should meet more often.’

‘You look the same, Lottie.’

‘Thanks, I guess?... ‘

‘You know it's a compliment.’ Bertha offered the chair beside her. ‘Tell me everything about home.’ 

‘Oh, well, you know, I'm sure your mom tells you most of the gossip - maybe more than I know.’ They shared a snigger. ‘Mostly people are the same, doing this and that, we're happy in our lives.’

‘Coffee?’ It was the only thing Bertha could say, in her mind no one could be happy living little lives in that little town. She waved to the busboy and pointed at her cup before raising two fingers and winking.

She in fact lived a small life composed of little bits. Had a degree in marketing but worked as a coffee shop manager and occasionally as a cashier at the Met's candy shop. 

Every week had a new fabulous idea for a business venture, a marvelous project to make money while having fun. Lately it was the kitchen aids stuff, small things to help normal people cook better looking cute. Aprons, caps, mittens, pan coasters. But before she could have bet her life on the success of a new line of shoes, patterns and stamping design for clothes, a flawless stratagem to win a reality show, coaching for TV hostesses... Bertha was a girl full of ideas but sadly not a go-getter, she was a dreamer.

‘Are you free to go?’ Lottie smiled to the busboy who brought her an employees’ coffee cup.

‘Home? Almost. What about your documents?’

‘So many forms to fill! I could swear I had it all covered...’ Lottie sadly blew the coffee steam before gingerly tasting it.

‘If anyone asked me, I could never say IRS would get you of all people.’ Bertha frowned. ‘Maybe I could help, show me.’

She did try but had to ask for the other manager to take over when her break time was done. 

One barista short that day, she had to keep as a cashier but couldn't shake a funny feeling evoked by the presence of her old friend in her adult domain. 

Lottie looked the same, taller than Bertha, thin, smilie, big teeth, shot hair, single, an overall happy aura. It made Bertha self-conscious of the few pounds she never made an effort to loose, the plans she never made an effort to make happen, the daring haircut she never ordered at the fancy salon she never visited, the dreamy boyfriend she never found. 

And she kept on working mechanically with a smile to the regular customer: ‘Caffe latte, grande, organic, Williams. Good morning. 3,59!’

Someone passed behind the big man.

‘Bye, Bertha, gotta run to deliver these before they close for the day.’

‘Leave your bag, I'll take it home, Lottie.’ She said.

‘Oh, thanks.’ The friend passed the heavy tote full of books over the tall counter. ‘Sorry, sir.’ 

‘No problem.’ The customer nodded politely.

‘Ok.’ Bertha returned to the computer. ‘Your regular order, sir... That will be… 3,59.’

‘Thank you.’ He answered.

‘You're welcomed, have a good one!’


Later that evening when they lounged in Bertha's crumpled one-bedroom apartment, Lottie was satisfied that she had managed to solve her problems.

‘I wanted to return home tomorrow morning, early afternoon the later.’ She said. ‘Have to sleep in my bed.’

‘Because your lover will miss you?’ Bertha smiled sideways sipping her beer.

‘Kind of.’

‘Wow, secrets!’

‘Nah!’ Lottie waved her friend of. ‘I make love with my bed. I hated they scheduled this hearing without giving me a chance to choose a date. The beginning of the month is my time to be quiet and calm, relaxed.’

‘Cramps.’ Bertha whined. ‘I know...’

Lottie didn't answer, only smiled like a fat cat fed a big bowl of juicy food. ‘This place here is a little over the top, huh?’ She said changing subjects. ‘You have plenty of furniture and still, it seems there's stuff strewn all around the place!’

Bertha looked around her. ‘It's not messy.’ She didn’t mean to, but sounded hurt.

‘It's not a dirty mess, I'll give you that. But you're close to a hoarder. Maybe I could denounce you to that tv show.’

‘Oh, shut it!’ Bertha frowned disregarding the jab as nagging, but then thought it better. ‘Do you think so?’

‘Mhum...’ The friend nodded. ‘How come you have all this in such a tiny place?’ 

‘It's just...’ Bertha's eyes roamed her one-bedroom once paying little attention to details. In her mind she saw each abandoned project perfectly stored away. ‘I have these ideas that at first seem so easy to make happen... Like the aprons we're using at the coffee shop, did you notice?’ Her friend nodded again, smiling this time. ‘I made those, and mittens. Let me show you.’ 

For the next few minutes she explained a detailed business plan for a small business that although rudimentary seemed very possible to Lottie.

‘Never took you for a cook!’

‘Am not!’

‘And how did you come up with this?’

‘Well, you know, observing, thinking, got time in my hands.’

‘So, was it the same with all these other boxes?’

‘And basically what I have stored in cupboards too.’

‘But still you keep your life on hold?’

‘Who are you? My mom?’

Lottie laughed. ‘Just saying, Bertha. You put time into things but when it comes to effort you bail out.’

‘Says the girl who still lives in the house her parents left her, didn't change a couch!’

‘I did change the couch; you'd know if you visited.’

‘Still you're the kettle calling me the pot.’

Both friends pouting, Lottie considered it must have been such a situation her granny warned her about: not an emergency, nowhere near life or death, just close enough to cajole a heart back into rhythm. ‘Like a defibrillator?’ She had asked in mocking humor. ‘You'll see, smart ass.’ Her old granny smiled like the old witch she was. ‘Actually, you'll feel it.’

Lottie starred at her feet for a while to order her thoughts, then inspired noisily. ‘Look, Bertha, I didn't mean to-‘

‘Nor did I. Sorry.’

‘Sorry too.’

Bertha leaned over and they touched beer bottles in a toast to peace.

‘Remember my granny?’ Lottie pressed a smile.

‘Of course!’ Bertha's smile exploded all over her face. ‘I'll never forget that trick of putting a piece of paper in a clear glass of coffee, lighting a candle beside it, singing a charm and suddenly we had the division of waters!’ She raised her voice menacingly. ‘Black at the bottom, clean as crystal on the top! I was so awed by her witchcraft!’ She finished laughing.

‘It wasn't a trick.’

‘Pardon?’

‘She really knew some witch stuff.’

‘Come on...’

‘I know you won't believe me, but I was once in a place similar to where you are now. The difference is that she had an eagle eye on me and rescued my confused heart before I built this empire of cluster.’ Lottie waved a hand around them to show Bertha’s place. ‘Maybe I can't help you, you'd need her, but well, I'm the best you've got.’

‘Talking riddles, baby.’ Bertha rolled her eyes and stood to get new beers. ‘Can you translate?’

‘Sure.‘

When she returned from the tiny kitchen, her friend had taken a small bag of herbs from her tote. ‘Weed? My landlord is a prick, if he smells us, I'm gonna hear it until the end of the world!...’

‘It's not mayjuana. It's tea.’

‘Oh, I see... Tea we smoke!...’ 

‘I'm serious.’ Lottie insisted and pulled Bertha's hand to sit by her side. ‘It's serious shit, pay attention.’

‘Oooh, serious pot.’

‘Shut it, Bertha! It's not pot! It's Belladama.’

‘Huh?’

‘Ancient wild belladama, very strong, hybrid, not something you might find in regular shops. It's gold in leaves.’ 

‘And what is it for, this precious treasure?’

‘Happiness.’

‘Get real!’ Bertha was about to stand, but her friend held her arm. 

‘It won't heal your life, it'll only give you a nice view of your it, a… Box seat for a big game; somewhere to stop and think things through.’

Bertha frowned starting to think her friend had gone crazy. Single, close to her forties, living alone in her deceased parents’ house...

‘You should choose an old tea mug, not too big, not too fancy, just one you like. Fill it up with boiling water then place the leaves on top. Cover with a dish, let it sit for a few minutes while you take a shower, eat something light, maybe have a soup. In this bag there is enough for two cups, but you won't have two cups at a time, I'm giving you two trips.’

To your crazy place, Lonnie Lottie? Bertha thought.

‘When the temperature is good for you, there's no right or wrong, you sieve it into another mug and return the strawberry golden tea into the favorite one. Did I say it can't be new? It has to be one you already have, Bertha, that's really important. Then you go to bed.’

There was silence. Bertha didn't know how to answer her friends’ sweet smile. 

Lottie was filled by a mixture of pity and excitement to share her secret; it was a big step for her.

‘I should be happy tonight, then!’ Bertha finally said.

Lottie shook her head. ‘Wait ‘till I get home, have the tea tomorrow evening, it's Friday. Can you take the weekend off?’

‘I guess, but I like to work at the Met.’

‘Not this one, you'll sleep it through.’

‘For two days?’ Bertha's eyebrows raised to the roots of her hair. Like hell she'd drink that poison!

‘More or less.’

‘How do you know I'll be fine if you'll be home already?’

‘I'll know.’ Lottie said with absolute certainty, Bertha was still incredulous. ‘How long have we met?’

‘Since preschool.’

‘And will you doubt me now?’

‘How can I not? You tell me your granny was a witch, start talking in riddles, gives me a magical happiness elixir ...’

‘It's not magic, don't mix things up. When you wake up you'll be the same, but the hybrid belladama will help you see the best side of things. It's a respite, brings up the strength you don't know you have.’

‘Do you use it?’

‘Yes.’

‘How often?’

‘Once every two months. Maybe once a month if I'm not feeling fine.’

‘That's why you didn't change anything since you were left alone after your parents passed away?’

Lottie closed her eyes, smiled fondly, scrunched her nose. ‘I change a lot.’ She grinned. ‘You'll understand.’ Finally, she opened her eyes.


That night Bertha couldn't sleep because she kept the tea pack under surveillance. Lottie had helped her choose a mug and she stored the pack inside the black ceramic bowl with angel wings. 

To give her friend the impression of being attentive, she had put the mug over her books on her nightstand saying she wanted to keep such an important gift close. But in fact she started to fear the thing.

Real witchcraft? Really?

Could it be exciting?

Or just plain stupidity?


Huh!