Saturday afternoons were Tiny’s favorite time for shopping. Today she would begin with the Gladrags Thrift Store and end with an afternoon treat at Clementine’s Café.
As she thumbed through the rails of the once loved clothing, the bell on the door jangled to welcome another customer; it was Madame Orly, legendary opera singer and Tiny’s oldest neighbor. What a surprise to see her here! Tiny imagined she would be sipping cocktails with the rich and famous, wearing the finest Parisian perfumes and singing on stage at La Scala.
Tiny watched as Madame Orly slipped off her coat and shoes and stepped into the dressing room. She was drawn to the footwear; they were the most beautiful shoes she had ever seen, in a crushed red velvet, pointed at the toe with a low kitten heel. Tiny looked over her shoulder, no one was looking. Without a second thought, she hopped into the shoes and after a few cautious steps, strutted across the floor. She expected to feel like a queen, but instead she felt small and sad and crippled with loneliness. She removed the shoes, the feeling went away. She stepped back in, the feeling returned.
Tiny felt ashamed, she had misjudged Madame Orly. Beneath the sparkle stood a lonely frightened girl, one who missed her mother’s arms and the windswept hills of home. A girl who had carefully stitched her rags into riches, and endured a lifetime of sacrifice. Tiny sat on the bench and waited. When Madame Orly emerged, her surprise was matched with a smile.
“Tiny, I didn’t expect to see you here!”
“Yes, such a lovely surprise. If you have the time, perhaps you’d like to join me for tea at Clementine’s?”
Madame Orly flushed with delight, it had been so long since she had enjoyed tea with a true friend. Tiny took Madame Orly’s hand as she slid back into her shoes. A table for two was waiting.