It’s Wednesday already? Great news! I have been looking forward to introducing you to one of my favorite characters in ‘The taste of a smile’. ^^
The heavy door fell shut with a loud click. Mary listened for movement in the old house. Everything was quiet.
“Grandma?” she called out, walking through the dark hallway.
“In here,” her grandmother replied.
Mary smiled in relief. It sounded like her grandma was in the living room. Sure enough, she found Elza on the couch, with her reading glasses on the tip of her nose and newspapers scattered across the floor.
“Hey,” Mary said, “What are you doing?”
Elza looked up. Her glasses were covered in finger smudges, Mary noticed.
“I’m reading last month’s papers,” Elza replied.
Mary stepped over a pile of old newspapers and sat down in the wicker chair next to the coffee table. “I don’t understand why you keep doing that.”
“Doing what?” her grandma asked, folding the paper and placing it on top of yet another different pile.
“Reading old newspapers,” Mary said.
“You know I don’t like to let things go to waste,” Elza answered, taking off her glasses. Her white hair was even more tousled than usual.
Mary decided there was no use trying to make her point again. They had had this discussion numerous times before.
“I have some news,” she announced, a little nervously.
Elza reached for the cup of tea on the coffee table. “Oh? Tell me all about it!”
Mary fidgeted with the sleeve of her favorite turtle neck sweater. “I got offered a promotion.”
“That’s good news, right?” her grandmother asked.
“Yes,” Mary chuckled, “It’s great news.”
Elza brightened. “Congratulations then!” Her watery, green eyes twinkled with excitement.
“Thank you,” Mary beamed.
Her grandmother raised her cup of tea in the air. “To you!”
Mary didn’t have a glass to raise, so she nodded with a grin.
“Drat, it’s cold,” Elza said after taking a sip, frowning.
“When did you make it?” Mary giggled.
“A few hours ago,” her grandma said and shrugged. She took another sip.
Mary was about to ask if she should go make some new tea, but decided against it. She wanted to talk to her grandmother now that she had the chance.
“I‘m not sure I should take the job,” she confessed.
Elza tilted her head. “Oh?”
Mary sighed and shifted in her seat. “I would have to leave my store.”
“And that’s a bad thing?”
Mary pulled her sweater up to her nose, hiding behind the dark blue wool. “Maybe?”
“Where would they send you?” Elza inquired, drinking more cold tea.
Mary frowned. “Our headquarters in Manhattan?” she replied hesitantly.
Elza waved in relief. “I thought you would have to move to another city.”
Mary shook her head. “No, no, the office is right here. Don’t worry.”
“Good,” Elza nodded.
Mary and her grandmother shared a house. She lived in the basement apartment and her grandmother occupied the rest of the large brownstone. It was an arrangement that worked well for both of them.
Elza had company and a tenant she could trust. Mary, in turn, didn’t have to cough up much in the way of rent. She also adored her grandmother and was grateful to see her so often.
Elza moved a pile of newspapers to the side. “What’s the problem then?”
“I don’t know,” Mary admitted, “I’ve been to the corporate office a few times and …” She stopped to think, still unsure why she wasn’t over the moon about this promotion.
“I guess I’m not sure I’m a good fit for that kind of environment?” she finally said, her voice in a higher pitch than usual.
Her grandmother put down the cup of tea. “Why wouldn’t you be?”
Mary sighed. She tugged at the bottom of her sweater and took in a deep breath.
“The people working at headquarters,” she croaked, “They’re all so sophisticated and businessy, you know?”
Elza snorted. “You mean they’re stuffy?”
Mary ran a hand through her hair. “Maybe? But I won’t fit in, you know? I’ll never be able to be like them.”
Her grandmother’s eyebrows shot up. She wagged a finger at Mary. “You better not become like them.”
Mary giggled. “Grandma, I’m being serious. I don’t have a degree in business and …”
Elza interrupted her. “You’re great at what you do, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I am,” Mary replied without hesitation.
“Then those psychopaths will be lucky to have you,” her grandma declared.
“What?” Mary laughed, confused. “Psychopaths?”
Elza raised her finger again. “I recently read that many CEO’s are full-blown psychopaths. You don’t make it that far without being a bit crazy, apparently.”
Mary’s lips parted. She had gotten used to her grandma’s weird comments, but sometimes Elza still took her by surprise. You never quite knew what was coming.
“There was a whole article in the newspaper about it,” her grandmother continued. “I can try to find it for you.”
Mary shook her head slowly. “No, that’s okay.”
Elza scooted closer to Mary, placing a hand on her knee.
“Honey, don’t question yourself like this. If you want this job because you think you’ll enjoy it, just accept it. You’ve earned it. If you would rather stay at the store, do that. It’s up to you,” she said, lifting her shoulders.
Mary looked down at her grandma’s hand. She smiled at the sight of the wrinkled skin, the blue veins, the age spots.
“Okay,” she said. “I think I will take the job then.”
That’s it for now! See you back here on Saturday for the full audio episode?
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