“Lynda, I need you to take a photo of me in the sunshine,” I say as I run in from spending the day as an Ancient Greek. I’m buzzing that I’ve been shortlisted for Belinda Jones Short Story competition and that Belinda has asked for a photo of me somewhere warm and sunny.
Lynda is used to these requests, she’s our Girl Friday, primarily for the chopping of card, leather and wool to our exact specifications, but most weeks she gets odd requests like; ‘Lynda, I need a new Florence Nightingale costume,’ ‘Lynda, can you colour in these parrots,’ ‘Lynda, can you paint a bunch of grapes.’
She puts down her scissors and peers at me over her glasses. “And you don’t have any holiday photos of you somewhere warm and sunny that you can use?”
“So that holiday in Iceland last year isn’t looking like such a good idea now, is it?”
“No, exactly. I have lots of photos of me in woolly hats by frozen lakes and exploding geysers, but I look like Benny from Crossroads.”
“Where did you go the year before.”
I fluff out my hair in the hope that it now looks vaguely decent.
“The year before?” The look in her eyes is one of hope and desperation as if I can suddenly conjure a warm and sunny holiday from my back pocket. I barely have the heart to tell her the truth.
“The Lake District.”
“I thought you went to Rome?”
“I did but I went alone so I have lots of photos of fountains and churches and nuns eating ice cream but none of me.”
She stands up. “So what’s the plan?”
“The rain has stopped, the sun has come out, at least for a few seconds and we’re going to go out into the car park and pretend it’s the South of France.”
She nods at me as if this is the most reasonable answer in the world. “And you’re going to go out dressed like that.”
I look down at my clothes. My paint stained t-shirt is hardly the good impression I was looking for. “Fair point. I’ll use my gold scarf, drape it over me like an artfully arranged sarong.”
I yank my arm out of my t-shirt and poke it through the head hole so my t-shirt is now an off the shoulder number and the sleeve is now dangling uselessly under my armpit. I tie the gold scarf round me, hoping it looks like a dress/sarong.
“Here,” says Lynda, handing me a plastic champagne glass filled with out of date orange juice.
“Excellent, nice touch. Come on, let’s do this before anyone sees me.”
I run out into the car park and arrange myself against a gate with the sun kissed trees and fields behind me.
“How do I work this thing.” Lynda is holding my phone like a bomb about to explode. I quickly show her which buttons to press.
“Quick people are coming, they’ll see me and I’m half naked.”
“Honey it’s five o-clock, everyone is going home, we’re standing in the car park. People are bound to see you.”
“Just take the photo.”
“I can’t see you through the viewfinder, the sun’s too bright.”
“Just point it in my general direction and press the button.”
I hear the phone click.
“People are staring.”
“Well you are half naked.”
“Take a few more.”
The phone clicks again. But this time it’s someone else’s phone taking the shots. Please don’t let me end up on someone’s Facebook page.
“Oh God, the sheep are coming. Quick take a few more.”
After a few more clicks and with quite the crowd gathered now, we leg it back inside.
Lynda settles herself behind her scissors once more as I scroll through the photos she has taken. “Are they ok? I couldn’t see what I was doing.”
“Evidently, I have three shots of my forehead, two of my breasts and one of the sheep. Oh this one’s ok. Well sort of.”
She looks at it and resumes her cutting. “I’d crop out the big splat of sheep poo though if I was you.”
I look again and sigh. “Yes, I’ll do that Lynda.”