Samantha Bradshaw is 24; Cory Green is 48; Rose Green is 33; Autumn Beare is 17
Even in the late afternoon sun, Samantha's bedroom felt dull, thanks to the brownish everything, and the large evergreen tree outside the only window, blocking the light. Still, it had to be better than the other side of the house where, she imagined, the windows would offer a first-class view of the town cemetery. The boarding house had been pretty much as she'd had expected it to be, but it was clean and comfortable, and at least it wasn't pink... and after a busy first day at the the bookstore she was grateful just to have a bed to lie back on and a private place to gather her thoughts.
It had been a hectic day. The shop was small, but obviously popular, and she could see why Cory and Rose needed the help.
Samantha started out on the cash register, bearing the frustration from both the customers, and from Cory, as she found her way around the machine.
By the afternoon she was getting the hang of it, and Cory moved her onto sales when a teenage girl, Autumn, took over as cashier, her usual after school job.
Samantha found sales much more enjoyable... while she didn't know her way around the shop the way Cory or Rose could, many of the customers seemed to have some idea of what they wanted and where to find it, and all she had to do was encourage them along...or at least keep them from becoming bored waiting for one of the others.
Rose turned out to be an open, friendly woman who went out of her way to make small talk to Samantha whenever she had the chance. By the end of the day, Samantha had learned quite a bit about Rose's life - her past career (teaching; until she was fired twice in 6 months), her previous relationships (several) and her marriage and family (she, Cory and their kids lived with his parents).
Samantha found it all a bit too much information. At one point, Rose had even told her that her father had never approved of her relationship with Cory - Cory was quite a bit older than Rose, and the couple were "sort of related". "Not closely", Rose had said quickly, seeing Samantha's reaction. "Cory's dad and my grandmother were adopted by the same couple... we never even really met until we were adults... there was some other stuff Dad didn't like too, but... well, that's kind of Cory's business."
Samantha found it oddly reassuring that there were at least some things that Rose wasn't willing to share with a total stranger. If Rose found it strange that she had talked so much about her life, and Samantha had said very little about hers, she never mentioned it. Perhaps she was used to talking and not getting much in reply, being married to a man like Cory who only seemed to talk when it was absolutely necessary.
That afternoon, Samantha had gone into the shop's office for something, and found them quietly standing still, arms around each other, just holding each other. There was really nothing sexual, or even romantic, about the gesture - it was more like they were sharing comfort - but Samantha found the moment so intimate, that she was embarrassed to have intruded on it.
Lying on her bed, Samantha's thoughts wandered back to that moment - the strange sadness of it somehow reflected the mood in the shop, even with Rose's friendly chatter. The staff were family - Autumn was somehow related, too - yet there was none of joking or good-natured teasing that usually went on when a small, close group worked together. No one seemed to smile much at all.
During a lull between customers, Samantha was gazing absent-mindedly at the painting of an elderly man on the wall at the end of the shop. As she watched a couple of customers pause and lean over the small table below it, Samantha suddenly understood.
It wasn't until the shop closed and she was tidying up, that she got the chance to confirm her suspicion. The book below the painting was a memorial book, and the inscription on the picture's frame said, 1940-2023. If the memorial book was still there, then it couldn't have long since -
Samantha jumped. She hadn't noticed Rose come up beside her.
"That was my grandfather," Rose repeated. "Orlando Centowski. He died a couple of months ago."
"The name's familiar," said Samantha.
"He was quite successful as a writer," Rose said. She picked one of his books from a nearby shelf and handed it to Samantha. "Probably, that's how you've heard of him."
"Maybe..." said Samantha, thoughtfully, flipping the book over to read the back.
"He founded the shop as well," Rose continued. "He and my father, really, but granddad was always the kind of driving force behind it. It meant the world to him. He retired years ago, said he was leaving Dad to run the business, but he still worked here a couple of mornings a week, right up to the day before he died. We used to say that the shop was like his last baby.".
It explained the unhappy mood, and that thing Cory had said about the shop closing suddenly... probably when the old man had died. And it seemed reasonable to guess that the absence of the owner - Rose's father - had something to do with the loss of his own father, the 'driving force' behind the venture, too.
It was still early, but Samantha was starting to doze. As she drifted off to sleep, she found herself thinking of the family.... it was easy to forget that families like that existed at all. Families where grandparents and parents and children loved each other enough to run family businesses together, or to want to live in the same house together, long after they have the chance to move apart... where couples stayed together and stayed close enough to slip away from their work for a moment just to hold each other... storybook-perfect families, somehow immune to the hurts that most families inflict on each other, unknowingly or otherwise.
Sorry, couldn't resist the familiar name thing since, like most of the Pleasantview townies, he seems to pop up in everyone's hoods ... :) But it makes sense in my storyline anyway, as he was a successful writer in Richmond.
They really do have their hands full with the shop... its my only level 10 business (or was! It now fluctuates between 9 and 10, going up and down 2 or 3 times in a game session). Rose has next to no experience in an owned business, we just hauled her in to help when Cory ended up as manager, on his own, with only a part-time teen cashier who keeps wandering off to chat with her friends... lol... the good news is that both Rose and Samantha are learning fast so hopefully we can save it from dropping any further.