Art Trip

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  No Houses

Chapter 5 (v.4) - Chapter 5

Submitted: January 22, 2018

Reads: 198

Comments: 2

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Submitted: January 22, 2018



Janet and Steve went back downstairs to go and fetch the car leaving Richard alone in the flat with Maggie. Richard stood rather awkwardly in the upper hallway; as Maggie went straight into her bedroom to start packing.

She began talking to him when she realised he wasn't in the room with her. She poked her head around the bedroom door to see Richard standing there looking like a lost little boy. “You can come in,” said Maggie. To Richard a woman’s bedroom was the holy of holies, a place where no single man should enter unsupervised. Maggie stood in the middle of the room with her hands on her hips laughing. “It’s OK, it’s not a trap. A giant stone is going to start rolling down from the ceiling like in Indiana Jones.”

Richard gave a nervous laugh, “New territory for me, coming in here.” Maggie was glad she took the time to clear up the mess before going to work that morning. Not a good sight to show a potential boy-friend, empty wine bottles rolling around on the floor.

She opened up her built-in wardrobe and fetched the small suitcase that was still lying on the floor from when she went to that bookbinding conference in Germany last month. However, if she was staying away for some time she needed the large one also. Looking up, she could see it was on the top shelf most probably put there by Martin, her ex-boyfriend, after their last holiday before they dramatically broke up.

As Maggie was throwing all her underwear, socks and tights into the small suitcase she asked Richard if he could reach up for the large one.

For the five-foot-ten inch, Richard it was an easy reach but unknown to him and Maggie the case was filled with Martin’s dumbbells which he bought online. Since their relationship ended abruptly he left her flat without taking them with him.

The dumbbells were not secure in the case, so as Richard moved it off the shelf he was not expecting the weight to come rolling to the front of the case. He lost his balance and toppled backwards. Maggie instantly grabbed Richard around the waist pushing her weight against him until he regained his balance. With his balance corrected he slowly began to lower his arms until he could place the case on the floor.

Maggie was in no hurry to let him go as she placed the side of her face against his back feeling his muscles and smelling his deodorant. Richard saw her soft white hands around his waist; he too was in no hurry to be released. But where would the two of them go from here. This intimacy was all too new for him. He gently tapped her hand, “It’s OK, you can let go now.”

Maggie reluctantly did as he asked but still rubbed his back asking for reassurance that he was OK. He said he was fine and humped the case onto her bed; Maggie then fetched a damp cloth from the bathroom and proceeded to wash off the years of gathered dust. Once it was clean, she flicked the catches and the offending items inside stared sheepishly back at them. “Been doing weight training?” Richard enquired surprise to see them. Maggie was no gym fanatic she got her daily exercise from running for buses, walking around the shop or climbing ladders.

When Maggie saw them the realisation of where they came from dawned on her.
“They belonged to Martin, I’ve no idea why he stored them in here.”
“Who’s Martin?” Richard was hoping this was not a hidden boyfriend suddenly being revealed.
“My ex, we split up about three years ago. Just before I opened my shop.”

Richard breathed an inward sigh of relief, he could handle ex’s, but still he never knew Maggie had a past love life and why should he? It’s her personal life, however this did place her with experience of all things relational; he was slightly envious of her now. He wished he had an ex.

Richard didn’t ask any further questions about Martin. “What do you want done with them?” He asked her. Maggie just made her big eyes and puffed out her cheeks, he thought she looked cute when she did that. Her decision pulling face he called it.
“I suppose I could ask Steve to drop them off at the recycling centre, scrap metal.”

Richard left Maggie to finish her packing and waited for her in the living room. He went and sat on the small two-seater settee. The single armchair was occupied by a big white fluffy polar bear and holding in its paws were a copy of ‘Einstein theory of relativity’.

Beside him on the settee were a few trashy celeb mags which he moved away from himself to find underneath Sudoku puzzle books. Maggie was a woman of contrasts; he could imagine her feeling at home coiled up on the sofa watching soaps one night and the next night attending the ballet.

Around him he saw some photos of what he took to be her mum and dad and some other photos of couples holding babies, thinking they may be of relatives or friends.

On one of the walls were some framed long-service awards from the bookshops she had worked at plus her ‘Young Business Woman of the Year’ certificate which was awarded to her by the Independent Shop Keepers Trade and Commerce in recognition for her bookshop trading a year. Richard remembered seeing Maggie in the local paper receiving her certificate and award.

The other pictures were of animals and random landscapes that could have been taken anywhere in the world. The sort of pictures you would buy in a discount shop. He got the impression that she felt she needed to give the flat a ‘homely’ look. In fact, it gave the impression she stayed there rather than lived there.

As he looked ahead he saw that Maggie in fact didn’t own a TV but instead had the most impressive book collection he had seen in anyone’s house or flat. An entire wall covered with IKEA shelving and filled top to bottom with books of all genres.

One shelf had art history books featuring French Impressionist, through to Russian Constructivism with the artist Mondrian and the Bauhaus art movement. Sophie Kinsella, Val McDermid and JK Rowling sat between ‘The Wives of Henry Tudor’. The more he looked over the books he could see Maggie’s time as a bookseller had made her an eclectic reader. That was a plus on the potential girl-friend check list.

When eyeing up the spines, he saw one of her antique reference books. He pulled it off the shelf and immediately an envelope fell out. Richard bent down to pick it up, when Maggie walked into the room he quickly said. “It fell out of this book,” just in case she thought he might be prying. Maggie knew the letter he was referring too.
“I don’t know why I keep that,” she said. Richard turned it over in his hand to see the BBC logo in the top-left hand corner.
“Read it if you want,” she said to him as she looked for her phone charger. He took out the letter from the already opened envelope, it read:

‘Dear Miss Margaret Harris, I’m sorry to inform you that your application to appear on the Antiques Roadshow as our resident bibliography expert has been unsuccessful. Thank you for your interest, we would like to keep your name on file…’

Richard didn’t read the rest he just put the letter back in its envelope and placed it and the book back on the shelf. “You’re much better that those people on TV, don’t sell yourself short Maggie. How many of them could spot a fake Gutenberg Bible?”
She just shrugged her shoulders. “I thought a spot of TV would booster my career. When they found out I didn’t have a university degree, it was there’s the door girly.”
Richard sat her down on the sofa. “Listen, the world is full of people trying to reach the big time the easy way. Don’t be like them; don’t sacrifice the real Maggie Harris for fifteen minutes of fame. I tell you, since we joined our two businesses you have been keeping us afloat with your deals.” Maggie gave her sad puppy eyes look at Richard and smiled.
“Do you remember the look on the auctioneer’s face when I proved that the Bible was a fake?” Richard held both her hands,
“To use your colourful language, he shit himself.”


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