Would her globe-trotting boyfriend ever fully become a part of Eloise’s world? Or should she shake things up?
“The thing is, we’re a wholesaler which means we only do bulk orders. I’m afraid I can’t sell you single pencils…”
Eloise checked the dashboard on her phone. Five minutes and forty-three seconds. She didn’t know it could take anyone that long to cotton on to concept of a twelve-unit minimum order.
“But I have been recommended to Only Office Supplies by a friend and he said…”
Here we go, Eloise thought, another five minutes of my Wednesday morning wasted.
Although the gentleman on the other end of the line did sound a bit doddery, bless him. She could sit back, zone out and consider this a nap. One with her eyes wide open.
Eloise had just the thing for her fidgeting hands.
Just the things, rather. Beneath her computer screen sat twenty snow globes, each from a different city in the world.
They were gifts from Mark over the course of the four years that they had been together.
All the trips had been solo. For business, Eloise reminded herself, before the spark of resentment in her belly caught light. It wasn’t his fault that his sales role was significantly more glamorous than hers.
It was work they had bonded over when they had first met in the gym – a horrible cliché, Eloise could appreciate.
But then Mark had been so persuasive, catching her outside the changing rooms with shower-fresh hair, asking if she was free for dinner there and then.
He had shown himself to be funny, sharp and charming. So very charming.
And just like that, he had tilted her world on its head. Love always left Eloise feeling impossibly giddy.
She picked up the first of the globes and shook it. She repeated the process with two, three, four more, wanting to see how many she could make snow at once.
“Well – I shall be taking my custom elsewhere,” the caller huffed.
Eloise opened her mouth to reply, but the line had already gone dead.
She urgently needed a new job. Only Office Supplies had started off as a stopgap after university but at some point, it had become a permanent contract that Eloise couldn’t shake.
Sometimes, she hoped Mark might suggest new job opportunities for her – after all, he had so many connections – but he never took the hint.
It wasn’t just those hints Mark didn’t pick up on.
Eloise was desperate to move in together – to his place or to hers, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that they started to build a proper future together.
She wanted a family. Mark said he did too, “when the time was right”.
But when was that? Mark would be forty next month. Eloise was thirty-four.
She traced her finger around the base of her favourite snow globe, the one with a row of children painted onto the porcelain, trembling with longing.
They were due to have dinner at the weekend, when Mark was back from Boston. Eloise had told herself she would bring up the subject of kids then.
But how would he respond to that conversation? Mark had been so odd of late, alternately aloof and snappy.
The phone burbled. Eloise prayed Pencil-man wasn’t back for round two.
But before she could get her greeting in, the caller started talking. It was a voice she knew almost better than her own.
“Just a quick one, Amanda. I’ll be back tonight…”
Amanda? Had Mark got a new secretary? Eloise opened her mouth but her gut warned her to keep shtum.
“I’ve booked a room at the Marriott near the station. Meet me there at seven?
“I’ve got a table reserved and a little something to show how I’ve missed you.”
Eloise thought she was about to be sick in her mug.
Everything was falling into place – the irritability, the nights when he didn’t respond to her calls, the lack of commitment to a future with her…
“Mandy – are you there?”
“Wrong number,” Eloise replied.
Eloise didn’t wait to hear his botched apology.
She grabbed the bin and with the other hand, knocked the snow globes into it.
For a few seconds, she absorbed the full snowstorm of pain, anger and humiliation.
Then came a sunbeam of realisation.
It wasn’t just Mark who hadn’t been himself, was it? It was Eloise too. She barely recognised the woman who meekly accepted the fluctuations in his mood.
The hope that he might change had been so bright that it almost blinded her.
Almost. Mark’s misdial could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
Eloise knew the blizzard of upset would pass and when it did, she would return to her old self again. A little wiser. She bent down and retrieved a fragment of snow globe from her feet – the one with the porcelain children.
Only Eloise could build the life she wanted. Now, at least, there was no one to hold her back.
Our My Weekly Favourites series of short fiction from our archives continues on Mondays and Thursdays. Look out for the next one.
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