It was that time of year again, February the fourteenth. The dreaded Valentine’s nightmare had begun and once again Myrtle had no date. Zilch, zip, zero in the handsome male department. The tinny sport’s announcement echoed through the building of Newbury and Sachs, attorneys at law:
“Myrtle scores a goose egg yet again ladies and gents, and in the opposing corner the pretty girls’ scores reach epic heights.”
In her imagination, a rich one I might add, she could even hear the crowd booing and hissing when her name was called; certain rotten fruit even found their mark. Myrtle rubbed her arms gingerly in the hope of warding off imaginary bruises. Of course they were ecstatic for the pretty girls’ victory, whistling and hurrahing. Ironic wasn’t it? They would, wouldn’t they? It was the way of the world.
Myrtle was no beauty queen and she knew it. The mirror on the wall told her every day that she was never going to be the fairest of them all. Behind thick, Coke bottle lenses her eyes stared myopically at the world. A bulbous nose, slightly too full lips and a double chin rounded off her facial features. Thin, dirty blonde hair covered her knobbly skull. Her large upper body was inelegantly carried by twig like legs. Her father called them Wednesday legs, as in, “When’s they gonna break?” Hardly funny in Myrtle’s opinion, yet he seemed to enjoy it ad nauseam. Small things amused small minds after all. Sadly there would never be a fairy godmother to transform and beautify what genetics had deemed fit for our heroine, Myrtle.
She struggled through the workday with a heavy heart, feeling green around the gills at the flirtatious talk and petty decisions involving dresses, hair do’s and yes, even lingerie. Why couldn’t they all wear serviceable, white cotton? It breathed for goodness sake! During lunch she kept her significant nose buried in the new Ken Follett novel, thereby avoiding inane small talk. Promptly at four she tidied her desk; cleanliness being next to godliness after all, collected her large, canvas carry bag and left the building, striding purposefully to the employees’ parking space in sensible, brown oxfords (sadly no glass slippers for our Myrtle). She unlocked her trusty, pumpkin yellow Volkswagen and took to the streets. On the way home she stopped for her favourite comfort food; a two litre tub of blueberry and cheesecake ice cream and two large slabs of chocolate….heavenly perfection.
Once home, she lavished her attention on Marshmallow, her four year old black and white cat. He reminded her somewhat of Puss in Boots, dashing and daring, even looked like children’s book renditions of the character in a certain light. He peremptorily demanded affection, insinuating himself between her legs and arching his back in blissful expectation of a scratch. Once Marshmallow had settled down, his tail curved neatly around his body, his nose and mouth firmly buried in the soft mounds of Friskies’ salmon and sauce, Myrtle helped herself to a large bowl of ice cream generously topped with sprinkles. She carried the bowl and spoon to the tiny living room and settled into a suede armchair. She sent her hands on an expedition inside the cavernous interior of the canvas bag, scrabbled around for a few minutes before holding her novel aloft triumphantly. The two slabs of chocolate duly appeared and Myrtle sank back in the chair with a contented sigh. Who needed a Valentine’s date after all? She was perfectly happy scoffing the ice cream and allowing the chocolate to melt in her mouth. She was vaguely aware that Marshmallow, the Don Juan of the cat world had left the building through the cat flap. Lucky cat, she sniffed.