During down time at head office, Jane loved to walk next door to the studio. Her heels clicked on the laminated, wooden floors. The studio itself was brightly lit; with blue, brown and white backdrops and a scattering of suitcases filled with toys, hats and props. She loved the spark of flashlights each time a photo was taken of a loving couple holding a brand new baby and always wondered when and if she would ever have the opportunity to experience love.
City life was boring to Jane; she lived for the weekends when she and her parents would go on trips to nature parks and reserves. She would always feel at home there, next to a waterfall on the edge of a cliff or in the bush taking photographs of an ungainly giraffe or going to an animal farm to feed goats and ride horses. The air in these places was uncomplicated, fresh and natural. Best of all was the conclusion to these afternoons: a beautiful, golden Kentucky Fried Chicken drumstick and an icy, bubbly Coca Cola. She would dread Sunday afternoons, because Sundays would mean the end of a dream and Mondays, the start of a nightmare, the fragile illusion shattered beyond repair.
The hustle and bustle of the city was hectic, hurried and mundane. Being a city chick was like living to the beat of a stranger’s drum; rolling down a hillside in a plastic bubble unable to exert control over your environment. She felt like a race horse with mobile blinders limiting its vision to the goal post; the never ending race to success and financial freedom. Sounds and sights were severely limited in the city as everyone pretended to hear nothing and see nothing around them…no smiles, no warmth no love. A dog eat dog world in which she felt like a helpless puppy.
Whenever Jane had the time, she would grab something “worthy of work” as an excuse and head over to the crummy, chemically inundated laboratory for some comic relief. This came in the form of a red headed no nonsense after hours witch who loved her job developing photos; an old, black man named Uncle Jo who lived in his sauna (a little 1 by 1 m darkroom) where he developed negatives as well as a black lady named Precious whose laughter rolled out of the laboratory into head office and out onto the streets of the city where it touched the hearts and minds of a few pedestrians. Later, when Jane was promoted to photo enlarger and black and white print developer without the accompanying benefit of an increase in salary I might add, these salt of the earth people and a darkroom door that locked behind her, were the only things that kept Jane sane.
Thus, Jane lived from day to day, keeping a tiny glimmer of hope alive somewhere deep in her heart that someday, somehow, a spark would slowly ignite, setting off a series of events too wild and fanciful to be believable. And as luck would have it and as fairytales predict, someday, somehow Hank the hot plumber entered her life.