Mostly, this one was inspired by the fact that I spent most of today shopping with my family.
I bought a fleece and a plaid jacket…
“Nolan,” Amara says, shoving her shopping bags into his arms. “Be a dear and hold my bags while I look at that dress in the window, please and thank you?”
What Nolan would have said is ‘Sure, Amara. Anything for you.” But he is pre-empted by Matilda shoving her own shopping bags at him.
“Mine, too,” Matilda says — as a statement, Nolan realises, not a request.
Me too?” Pela asks, holding up her own bags.
By the time the three women head into the store and Nolan is left on the street corner, he’s more shopping bag than man.
This is not what he meant when he said that the Lyte Brigade should do a little shopping. He meant they. should buy guild supplies. He isn’t sure how eyeliner the colour — as the woman at beauty shop said — ‘the colour of the cliffs of Duradero at sunset in late summer’ is possibly going to help the Lyte Brigade during a job.
But then, Nolan doesn’t really understand anything about make-up.
So, here is he, standing on the street corner, buried under a pile of other people’s shopping, utterly bewildering about the nature and quantity of things in that shopping, thirsty and with his arms getting tired.
And his nose is itchy.
He watches hopefully as Matilda steps out of the store and approaches him. He breathes a sigh of relief and hopes that she’ll be able to take her bags back.
“Oh, Matilda, thank the Powers you’re back!” he says eagerly. “Here, I think these bags are—”
“Can’t talk,” Matilda says bluntly. “Need money.”
“There’s a cute dress in my size,” she explains, rather less bluntly. “But I didn’t bring enough money. Spot me, yeah?”
Before Nolan can have any say in the matter, Matilda snatches away his wallet and runs back into the store.
“You’re welcome,” Nolan mutters from behind the pile of shopping bags. To no-one in particular.
A little while later, Amara comes running out of the store.
“Gingham? Or Plaid?” she asks with no explanation.
“For a dress,” she says. “I need your opinion. Gingham? Or plaid?”
“Aren’t those the same thing?” Nolan asks.
“They most certainly are not,” Amara insists. “The differences, though subtle, are numerous and apparent to the well-trained eye.”
She heaves a sigh.
“So once again, Nolan. Gingham? Or plaid? Which one do you think would look better on me?”
“Anything would look good on you Amara,” Nolan answers sincerely — though, as he promptly finds out, incorrectly.
“Ugh. You’re no help at all,” Amara mutters.
After the three women are done at the dressmaker, they stack several more shopping bags on top of Nolan and continue down the street. There’s still something not quite right about the situation, and Nolan is finally able to put his finger on it.
“Why am I still carrying all the bags?” Nolan asks.
“Because, Nolan,” Amara answers over her shoulder. “No gentleman would allow a group of such —”
“— beautiful, elegant —” Matilda adds.
“— short —” Pela adds.
“— ladies such as us,” Amara concludes, “carry so much shopping all by themselves. Thank you, by the way, Nolan.”
Well, Nolan muses wearily, at least she said thank you.
But, seriously, aren’t gingham and plaid just the same thing?
Also, I don’t really like shopping.
Quick reminder — Chapter 9 of Forward, the Lyte Brigade went live earlier today:
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