The Lord Mayor had just talked Stacey into eating a third chocolate éclair. He didn’t have to do much talking. Stacey enjoyed sweet things; she also enjoyed savoury things, crisps, were, in fact, her best friends. Little salty pleasures that spoke to her like no one ever could. They were reliable, they would always be there. Unlike men, crisps were accessible, attainable and readily available. Stacey blushed as the Mayor coaxed her into eating the last pastry on the plate. He gave her a fake compliment and said something about, ‘it being a shame to waste it.’ Then he moved on. Stacey stayed seated, ate the last cake and then waited for the speeches.

Dinner with the mayor, how grand. Life hadn’t always been like this for Stacey. When she was 18, she had worked as a travel agent. Her dreams were always of travel. Every day she took money from people and sent them to places all over the world, places that enticed her and excited her. Travel was the best way to continue one’s education. She wrote that on a piece of paper and stuck it to her monitor. Things began well. She did travel, Rhodes, Magaluf, Benidorm, Gran Canaria all within the space of a year. It was Gran Canaria where she met Spencer.

At this point in her life, Stacey was a size ten, her hair, tawny and soft had been highlighted so often since she was 16, that it now had a silky caramel sheen. Combined with eyes clearer than Mediterranean seas, everyone described Stacey as stunning. There was no shortage of suitors. Her Father always joked that she would need security. Spencer could not believe his luck. For many years he thought that someone had been working overtime in the big hunny factory upstairs and delivered unto him his own golden goddess.

The relationship started as they all do, well, some of them do. Flirting by the pool, laughing at the fact that back home they both lived just ten miles apart. Meeting up at the club. Snogging on the beach. Fumbling and then, a roll about. Numbers were exchanged, and expectations were high. Neither of them could call each other quick enough once they were back home. Dates followed; cinema, restaurants and then after three months the big one, meeting the parents. By the time she was 19, Stacey and Spencer were a real item. By the time she was 21 they were living together, 22 brought engagement and 23 brought her a new career. Stacey started to work as a sales assistant for one for the City’s largest makeup firms. Stacey’s skin got darker, and her hair got lighter. The caramel glow, became a harsh canary colour, size ten became 12, then 14 and settled somewhere between 18 and 22. The bliss of loving companionship had evolved to a treadmill of routine.

As the Lord Mayor spoke to the business leaders of the city and prepared to call Stacey up and present her with the ‘Retail Business Woman of the Year’ award, her mind wandered back to her days with Spencer. She rarely thought of him, but tonight he crept into her mind like a gatecrasher, a bum, sneaking into £500 a plate dinner.

It ended badly. It was a total cliché. Stacey could barely force herself to recall the circumstances. What she often thought of was the feeling. They were so happy. Well, she was. They had everything, cars, money, a house, they went on amazing holidays, and they both had good jobs. She’d put on a bit of weight, but you don’t judge people on that do you? She knew that he was married now, had three children and his wife, even after the kids, was a very enviable size eight. Bitch.

A bit of moisture gathered in the corners of each eye. ‘Shit! My mascara will run. Spencer!’ The Mayor finished his speech and announced Stacey as this year’s recipient of that particular award. Stacey pushed her chair back and trotted up to the stage on her five-inch heels. ‘It doesn’t matter,’ she thought, ‘they’ll think it’s the award.

Stacey let go, and the tears rained from her eyes, and her chest heaved as she cried. She cried like she did the night he left. She wept, the Mayor patted her back and hugged her, and through powerful sobs, Stacey belted out her acceptance speech.

To be continued … 

This is a short story by Nick Mann, if you liked it, you can find more of the buggers here. Otherwise, if you have enjoyed it please consider sharing it – Karma and my badself will thank you for it. The buttons are on the right, thank you kindly.

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