Sequins by Angie Ellis
Editorial intern Zoe Maki on today's bonus story: Today's bonus content is sprinkled with delightful description that illuminates an eccentric grocery store clerk dissolving into a world of smooth jazz and cigar smoke.
Oh my god I love that yogurt. Absolute best freaking yogurt. The woman at checkout enunciates each word like a hammer hitting a nail with swift precision. Try the mango. I love the mango. She says it like man-go. AB-suhloot. Best. Freaking. Yogurt.
She looks at her watch and tells me her boyfriend, who is lazy but funny, is coming over for the weekend. World of Warcraft, yeah! She holds up devil horns and stretches out her tongue. Her voice has a surprisingly delicate rasp underneath the enthusiasm. I picture her singing jazz in a dimly lit room.
The yogurt won’t scan and I tell her not to worry about it and she says, No way, uh-uh, you need this yogurt, and calls someone named Jeff. I imagine her phone is one of those old fashioned microphones, huge, gleaming chrome and obscuring half her face as her eyelids flutter and her head tilts. She’s singing about Jeff. Jeff is no good, or too good. But he is nothing in between.
Her name tag says HOW CAN I HELP YOU MY NAME IS BRENDA and I think a good jazzy name is Brenda Bee. I picture a man in a fedora with a cigarette dangling from his lips saying smoothly, Ladies and gentleman. Brenda Bee. And his voice is like cream and honey, it’s deep like marrow, you can smell it. He steps aside and calls her baby, but not in a sexist way, in a worshipful way.
Ice cubes in sweaty lowball glasses.
She bangs down the receiver and rolls her eyes. No offence to Jeff, but he’s a serious dumbass. Then she sweeps her hand through the air. Don’t worry, we figured it out. In my mind her hands rise along with her voice, like doves in the dimly lit room. And instead of navy polyester pants stretched across her wide bottom, she is wearing a sequined dress—silver—and it stretches across everything, magnificently. Her hair isn’t dyed yellow in a scrunchy, but platinum—no, jet black—against her creamy skin. And her double chin is a triple chin when she hits those low notes, and the men whoop and holler and shake their heads, grinning. But she doesn’t hear them, she is taken away. She is Brenda Bee.
She plunks the yogurt in a plastic bag and hands it to me. Now to get him to dump her fat ass, and I ask who and she says, His ex. His girlfriend. Whatever. And I see her then, arms out to the patrons, baring her heart, messy and exquisite, and the crowd is silent now. Reverent. Her bosom quivers and the sequins dance, each tiny flame. The brightest thing in the room.
I take the bag and say thank you.
No worries. Enjoy the best yogurt of your life.
But that’s not what she really says. What she really says is, Thank you, I love you all. Thank you so much.
Angie Ellis lives on Vancouver Island in Canada, where she is finishing her first novel. An excerpt from that novel can be found online at Narrative Magazine. She also has publications in (b)OINK, Paper and Ink, and forthcoming in Agnes and True.