Kind Gestures by S. Webster
Veronica’s Boutique – 1:45 pm
Beth is going through her list of those things she had planned for today and marking them off. Tidy the house. Check. Take the boys to the library and out to McDonalds for lunch. Check. Drop them off at the park to play while she finishes errands. Check.
Now she is by herself back in the library doing the next thing on her list – writing letters where it is cool and quiet. When she finishes writing she reads them again before signing her name and creasing them to fit into their stamped addressed envelopes. She will take them to the post office and drop them through the slot for out-going mail. Beth thinks that letters, starting their journey this way, from the very center of the post office, are sure to be delivered to their destination and not accidentally left in a mailbox by a carrier who might save time and not stop at a mail box if there is nothing to deliver. She is careful where she places her trust and most of it now is in her Lord, feeling his guiding hand on hers as she carefully places the letters in her bag and pushes back her chair.
The next stop is Veronica’s Boutique while the boys are still playing in the park. She finds the shop empty at this hour because it is too hot and humid for anyone to think about trying on clothes. Beth like every other woman who comes in here knows that Terry can help her find exactly what she is looking for. She wants it to be white; the kind of negligee a new bride would wear – something sexy and innocent at the same time, something sheer with a little lace trim. This evening was going to be a new beginning for Beth and she is looking for something that will make the right impression.
“Good afternoon,” Terry says. “Is there anything I can help you with?” She can’t remember the last time she saw Beth in the store and hesitates to call her by name.
Beth feels a little embarrassed as she tells Terry why she has come in and admits to having no idea what size she would be. Terry guesses it will be something in a small and there is the briefest hesitation before she begins in earnest to look through their inventory of intimate apparel.
She sets out three boxes on the counter between them and gently lifts their lids. Terry folds back the tissue to expose first one then the others. She watches as Beth touches the delicate trim of satin and lace on the bodice of each. Her hands are chapped looking and don’t appear to have ever been professionally manicured. Terry caught herself wincing a little when Beth reached for the first negligee. Lifting first one, then the next, Beth holds them up, over the box, then up in front of her. She turns toward the mirror to see where how far down her thighs each one comes.
“I think this is the one,” Beth says holding the shortest of the three out toward Terry.
“How would you like to pay for it?” Terry asks.
“With this,” Beth says as she hands over her credit card. She smiles to herself thinking how George will be reminded how perfect this choice had been when the bill comes due.
“Thank you,” Terry says as she hands Beth the receipt and places the box in a bag with even more tissue. Arranging the bags contents just so helps Terry to avoid eye contact and steadies her hands. She couldn’t look at Beth now that the purchase is made. She just wants her out of the store. Terry wants someone else to come in and distract her mind from seeing the effect that nightie is sure to have on George. She knows because she has the very same one. He wants to see her in it tonight and will be calling later to let her know when and where to meet him.
She will not answer the phone, not tonight, not after having waited on Beth. It doesn’t seem right. It’s not right. Maybe she should end the affair. George wants her to be available whenever he calls. How is it that their time together has gone from the thrilling excitement of learning each other’s desires to a nervous anxiety in finding the time and place to be together. Thinking of Beth’s hopeful plans for this evening made Terry feel sorry for her and even sorrier for herself. What is she doing taking chances like this with her marriage and her future? She will tell George soon that they need to stop.
Terry watches Beth walk back to her car then busies herself placing the two negligees back in their boxes and under the counter.