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  • Gloria likes teapots and purses, whereas Melania is drawn to the handmade and unusual. They come from much different worlds, both frequenting the consignment shop regularly...Perfectly regular, actually. Not so often that they grow stale and tiresome, often enough that I remember them well. I don’t believe they had ever met before yesterday.

    Melania and I were chatting at the counter...it’s actually a glass jewelry case that is heavily scratched and clouded from years of being covered with metal hangers, laughs and tears. I know in the year I’ve been working here it has seen a bunch and before me, ghosts and stories echo and linger. Anyway, elbow-to-elbow, tete-a-tete, there we were. I was displaying the button brooches I just started making, really showing them off for Melania...I’m trying to embrace my artistic, creative side...just starting to honor it...Maybe I was looking for a little approval from a woman who might be a mother's age? I was always afraid to try...afraid no one would...well...whatever...let me get on with the story...

    I brought two in, as testers. Would anyone even be interested and if so, would they be drawn to the pin with the plastic baby glued to the top?...or the one without, that just looks like a stack of buttons? Is one too childish?...the other too mundane?! If there is an interest, I can make more...easy and enjoyable enough...button collecting could certainly be my new hobby. Truth be told...I’m a little obsessed. I already have a couple of stories that have sprouted from my hunt. One even took place on a dark and stormy night...

    Anyhoo, Melania loved the one with the baby. She laughed and laughed and smiled and cheered. “Oh, dear...you have GOT to make more of these! The baby gets my vote!” I made a mental note and slid the pins to the side. Melania wandered off to do a little browsing and I went back to sorting through a local billionaire’s old clothing. (By the way...I never gave a care about brand names, but just the other day I found myself fantasizing about rubbing the shaft of a pair of Prada boots against my panties...”butter” does not describe the way that leather feels! Oh, tan me, Daddy!)

    Umm...where was I?...Oh! Right! Uh...so then, a few minutes later, Gloria comes up the counter...

    “Ahlraht, darlin! Nothin’ for me today...I really just came in to see you and have a little look. You know! I gotta keep an ah (eye) on mah teapots! Ah know ‘dose prices awr gonna come down soon enuff!”

    “I keep telling you to make me an offer, Miss Gloria! C’mon! Just throw a number at me and I’ll work with you!”

    She smiled and turned away....I can’t figure her out. Except maybe...well...Maybe as long as those teapots are right there on the shelf, she has something pretty to come and look at when she comes in to visit. I know she is caring for her sickly daughter at home. I know how hard being a caretaker can be and I’ve heard a mother’s love for a daughter is like none other...I’m sure she needs something pretty to look at....maybe even teasing herself with a bit of longing helps ease the pain...I mean...we all do what we gotta do...ya know? I dunno. Maybe she just wants to love them but not own them.

    Just then, Miss Gloria looked down and noticed the buttons. Her face lit up. She pointed to the one WITHOUT the baby and screeched (Miss Gloria has a high-pitched-ear-piercing tone when she is “bringing it”),

    “Ohhh! Lookee dat! Dat’s a smahl! That a SMAHL if ah ever sawr one! Looka dat! It’s smahlin’ at me! Now DAT is bee-yoo-tuh-ful!”

    Honestly, I hadn’t seen the button that way, but now that she pointed it out, I could soooort of see how the two holes of the button could look like eyes and the stack of descending-in-size buttons could look like smiles.

    “I made those, Miss Gloria! They’re my buttons!” Now I was the one smiling, quite proudly, I might add. I mean...she was Screeeeching!”

    Melania had joined us to see what Miss Gloria was screaming about.

    “Look, Melania. Miss Gloria likes the baby-less pin. Now it’s a 1-1 vote!”

    “It’s a smahl! Cayn’t you see dat? Dat is a beeyootiful smahl!”

    (Reader...here, I struggle. I cannot figure out how to let you hear Melania’s voice. I am unsure of her very slight accent, if there is one, at all. She speaks very slowly...everything is enunciated clearly...She was a teacher all of her life. She loved it...she speaks of her experiences often, in bits and pieces. Memories here and there...points being made. She is truly a teacher. Her voice is...round and full, quiet and deep. Commanding, in the most gentle way. She bears an air of independence and exudes an inner peace and joy that just makes you want to lean in. So please...lean in...)

    “Ma’am? I think the smile that is on YOUR face right now is beautiful and because Violet’s pin has brought you that much joy, I would like you to have it. Would you allow me to buy that pin for you?”

    The smile on Miss Gloria’s face softened for a moment. No...it buckled. Then she leaned in and puffed out.

    I can’t remember what Miss Gloria said, verbatim, because I was witnessing something so fucking honest while also making my first jewelry sale...not to mention, flashing back to when Melania gave me her mother’s antique scarf pin and how that gift made ME feel...

    “Oh! I forgot to mention! Today we are running a special sale, Melania! Today is buy one Button Brooch, get one free! I picked up both pins and put them in the palms of Gloria and Melania. We three very different women held hands across the counter. It turned into a hug.

    It’s kind of wonderful when you think about it.

    After giving away one and splitting the profit, fifty-fifty with the owner of the establishment, I made five dollars.

    I’ve never felt richer.

    Who knows...maybe if I keep honoring my Creative Self and ALL of the Glorias and Melanias, one day...well, one fine day I'll be that much richer AND be able to buy those Prada’s...!

    :)

    First image: Melania and Gloria
    Second image: Baby Through a Lens
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