Leaving Time*

E”Excuse me, do you happen to have a pig or a tapir?” I say to the manager of the shop.  I’m at the place where I purchased Mum’s beaded dinosaur last week, looking for a present for Seb’s Mum.

“We’ve got a sheep,” she says, standing up, moving round the front of her desk, walking over to the shelf of animals that I’m looking at.  “And a crocodile, and an elephant and…”

“Do you still have the lion?” I say.  “It’s for my boyfriend’s Mum.  My Mum loves her dinosaur so much, thank you.”

“Oh, good,” she says, smiling.  “The lion’s been sold, I’m afraid.”  She hands me the elephant.

“Oh he’s lovely,” I say.  “I’d definitely like him.”  He is covered in colourless beads, has a blue trunk and tail and yellow feet

“Well if she likes pigs and tapirs, he’s similar,” she says.

“The hummingbirds are gorgeous too,” I say, picking one up.  “And the turtle, the frog and the crab.  I don’t know her well enough to know which animal she’ll like best you see or…”

“Well, I’ve never heard of anyone who says they like all animals except elephants,” the shopkeeper says.  “The hummingbirds are beautiful but the elephant has more character and…”

“You see I like all of them,” I say.  “That hoopoe for instance: he’s wonderful.  And the seagull.  And the seahorses.  It’s difficult buying a present for someone I don’t know that well.  And anyway – how can you compare an elephant with a hummingbird.”

“I’m always getting into trouble in my mother in law for not calling her often enough,” she says.  “It’s always a difficult relationship.”

“I don’t think she’d want me to call her,” I say, turning the elephant over in my hand.  He feels solid, dependable.  “I think I’m going to get this one.”

“Good choice,” she says, taking him from me, wrapping him in tissue paper, placing him in a little gift bag.

Let’s hope Seb’s Mum likes him.

The attached photo is yesterday’s wolf in his underwear shop window.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

 

*2014.  By Jodi Picoult.  Detective novel: “13-year-old Jenna Metcalf is on a quest, searching for her mother, Alice, an elephant researcher, who disappeared 10 years earlier after a tragic accident at their sanctuary for former circus/zoo elephants in New England.”

 

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