Chapter 1: Where Is it?
Amelia was frantic. She’d looked everywhere, but couldn’t find it.
Frustration was getting the better of her. ‘Where did I put it!’ she said out loud.
“For goodness sake!” she stomped her foot in exasperation.
And she’d told David about it too. He’d been waiting weeks for the letter to arrive and she had texted him from the post office the minute she had it in her hand. And now she’d lost it!
It was still in its blue envelope, somewhere. But where?
Amelia sat down, took a deep breath and backtracked her steps. It had been one of those meandering work-free days. After she’d dropped off the kids, she picked up the mail, had done a bit of shopping, gone to the coffee shop, and then to the library.
She’d put the bundle of mail into her carry bag, then gone through it at the coffee shop before she opened her book to finish it.
She closed her eyes and pictured the scene, and suddenly, remembered. It was in the library book! She’d put the letter in the book to hold it open while she checked the rest of the mail. And then without thinking, moved it to the front inside cover as she finished the last chapter. Full of satisfaction at having read a wonderful story, she then blissfully closed the book.
Glancing at her watch, Amelia grabbed her keys and headed back out to the car.
She made it with 15 minutes to spare before the library closed. Stepping up to the front desk, she tapped her fingers impatiently.
“Yes, what can I do for you?”
“I dropped off a book earlier, and left a letter inside the front cover.”
“Name of the book please?”
“Pearl In A Cage by Joy Dettman.”
“Just a minute.” The librarian clicked at the keys, blinked at the screen and looked up.
“The book is out.”
“Oh no! I need that book – the letter’s in it. How can I get it?”
“Well, you can’t. Not right now. We’re about to close. I can ring the borrower tomorrow if you like and see if it’s still there.”
“No! No! No! I need it now!”
“I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”
Amelia closed her eyes and let her chin drop. How could she be such a scatter-brain, she thought as she left the library. Lost in the characters of the book, she’d returned it without a second thought.
How was she going to tell David? Driving to the local pool to pick up the kids after their swimming lessons, she tried to put it out of her mind. She would have to face the music tonight, but there wasn’t a thing she could do about it until tomorrow.
It was still warm out and the car was full of happy children-chatter, so they stopped off for ice creams all round – she needed it more than the kids! It was either that or chocolate!
And then she headed for home.
As they walked up the path to the front door, Amelia admonished herself once again for being so careless…. until…. she saw something stuck in the screen door.
It was a blue envelope.
Chapter 2: Got It!
Flooded with relief, Amelia rushed forward and grabbed the envelope that was stuck in the screen door.
“Thank God. Bless you, whoever you are!” she shouted to the heavens as she waved the envelope above her head. She had the letter in her hand – a good Samaritan had returned it. Amelia wasn’t about to lose it again. But then, just as she was dancing a little jig of triumph, she stumbled and lost her grip. At that very moment, the breezy afternoon whipped up a colossal gust, grabbed the blue missive and shot it up into the air.
“Oh no! Kids, help me!”
Amelia and her three children began twirling and jumping, trying to grab the flash of blue that was flurrying about in the wind. But to no avail. Suddenly, it lifted and off it went across the street.
“Kids! Go next door,” shouted Amelia. “I’ll go after the letter.” She knew her neighbour was home and would look after her brood.
“Mum!” Andy, her oldest yelled back. “You won’t get it – it’s too high.”
“Don’t you worry. I’ll get it,” shot back Amelia. Your Dad will kill me if I don’t, she thought, as she charged after it.
Across the street, she tore, not taking her eyes off the more and more distant speck of blue. How can this be happening? It must be payback for my flighty ways. If I catch it, I’m going to change, she bargained with herself. Yes! She would take herself in hand. As each foot hit the ground, she spurred herself on chanting: “New me! New me! New me!”
Amelia was hoping it was slowing down a bit. And surely it was getting closer to the ground too. She was now three streets away from home, still running. But, if she had to turn the next corner, she would be on the main road. Please, no, not the main road, she thought.
She was now a touch breathless. It was hard work, this running after a speck in the sky, but she couldn’t afford to lose sight of it. David had been waiting weeks for the letter. How could she lose it twice in one day? First leaving it in the library book, and then letting it fly right out of her hand!
Amelia knew how much it meant to him – the first letter from his birth mother. It had taken years of searching. He would never forgive her if she lost it. As she turned the corner onto the main road, she saw the letter fly out into the middle of the street. She considered rushing out to stop the traffic, but thought better of it, and instead kept her eye on its floating path.
Then abruptly, it swooped back towards Amelia and straight into the leafy tall tree on the corner. Amazingly, it stayed there, wedged within the branches. I’ve got this, she thought, I’ve really got this now, she repeated as she headed towards the benches underneath the tree. And she did. As afraid as she was of heights, she climbed that tree and retrieved David’s letter.
She never did tell David about her escapade and she swore the children to secrecy. That night, she dreamt of chasing a blue speck… she is running, running, the blue speck falls into the back of a ute. Hang it, she thinks, I’m going after it. She commandeers a motorbike and takes off, her hair flying wildly in the wind. Crap, she thinks, was that a speed camera that flashed me? Not caring, she charges on, her quest thrilling her to the core.
In her dream, Amelia was last seen heading out of the city following a white ute.
Secretly, she loves her escapades.
Chapter 3: The Barefoot Fashionista
“This is going to be fabulous!”
Amelia loved her job as a stylist. Working for a magazine was a great job, but today, she was the stylist for a local fashion show. It was a charity do, but the best promotion Amelia could ever get if she was ever going to start her own business. And that’s what she wanted to do.
The air was buzzing with excitement. All the right people were in the audience.
Amelia had always had an eye for fashion. And, she knew precisely what an outfit needed – a scarf, beads, a hat or a splash of colour. That was why she was the stylist in charge of getting the models onto the runway looking exactly as they should.
One by one her girls hit the lights and did their thing. It was going like clockwork. The usual backstage chaos was humming along surprisingly smoothly. Of course, Amelia’s wardrobe assistant, Jeannie – perky, bubbly, enthusiastic little Jeannie was an absolute gem.
With hair and makeup done, it was, dress on, accessories, shoes and then out they went. The music was throbbing, the lights were flashing, and the dress rack was thinning – only three more to go, and then the finale. The show-stopper and only one model could do it – the fabulously tall Jo.
Putting the finishing touches to the last outfits, Amelia started to relax. She peered through the curtains – yes, it was going well. She was feeling more than chuffed when suddenly, a panic-stricken Jeannie rushed towards her.
“Jo isn’t here.”
“What do you mean, Jo isn’t here?”
“She’s not here yet, I haven’t seen her.”
“Jeannie, why didn’t you tell me? She needs to be here now!” Amelia could feel herself getting hot. She couldn’t afford anything to go wrong. She was depending on this show.
But the seconds were ticking and no Jo. How could Amelia not have noticed she was missing? Because Jeannie was so organised, that’s why, and Amelia depended on her to get the models into their dresses.
“I am so sorry. I was so busy, I didn’t notice.”
None of the other models fitted into the show-stopper.
“Oh God! What am I going to do?”
Be calm! Be calm! Amelia told herself. There has, to be an answer.
“Amelia, you could do it.”
“You’re the same size, and you’re tall enough.”
“Amelia, listen to me – you can do it, you have to do it.”
“But my hair!”
“I’ll fluff it.”
“But makeup? There’s no time.”
“Oh, My God! There’s no time.”
“Quick, here… put it on.”
The dress slid on like magic. A glittering sheath of beauty. Oh, how wonderful it felt!
Jeannie went to work on Amelia’s hair. She ripped out the clip and let Amelia’s blond locks fall loose. Oh, yes, this will be easy. She put a loose comb through it and grabbed the hairspray.
“Bend down, let your hair fall forward,” said Jeannie, already spraying madly.
When Amelia put her head up, she couldn’t believe it. Her hair was fluffed and really, quite spectacular. She rummaged through the lipsticks. Yes, there it was. The bright red. That’s the one.
She looked at herself. Not bad. Not bad at all. Only two minutes to show time. Amelia reached for the shoes. Oh, no, no, no! They didn’t fit. Amelia’s feet were too big.
“Bare feet, that’s what,” declared Jeannie
Looking around wildly, Amelia’s eyes fell on a long sheer scarf. Bright red, just like her lipstick. Yes, the perfect thing to trail along the floor.
“Thank God I painted my toenails this morning!”
Red lips, red scarf, red toenails, fluffed hair – it would have to do.
She grabbed the scarf, fluffed her hair for confidence, looked down at her big feet with the fabulously painted toes and knew she was ready.
The music cued. Amelia straightened her shoulders, lifted her chin, mentally crossed her fingers and out she went.
The finale was a huge success. And ‘darling, wasn’t it just marvellous how the stylist wore the show-stopper’. Amelia’s talent was duly, noted and some even started calling her the ‘Barefoot Fashionista’.
Her business as a personal stylist had begun.
Chapter 4: Amelia’s Lucky Day
Amelia was feeling on top of the world. She was almost skipping along as she headed for work. This was her last day.
The magazine had been a great training ground, but Amelia was ready to take the leap. Her stylist business, The Barefoot Fashionista was on its way, and today, at midday she was hopefully signing up her first big client – Maggie Barker, an up and coming actress.
Amelia was ready, willing, and able, and she couldn’t wait!
She was bouncing along happily as she thought of the meeting. She was smiling at everyone she passed. As she got closer to the office, she waved to the pop-up coffee shop owners and to the sales girl from the boutique next door. She sidestepped the courier who was delivering parcels, and as she was about to walk through the front door, she noticed the camera crew further up the street. Wonder what that’s all about, she thought.
Life was good and everything was going exactly as it should be. Even the sun was shining.
The morning passed uneventfully. Amelia was handing over the last bits and pieces to the new girl, recruited from fashion school. She remembered when she started and how daunting the magazine was. She looked at the clock…. 11.30 a.m. Not long to go.
They were meeting at Maggie’s flat, not too far away. It should only take 10 minutes to get there, so she had fifteen minutes up her sleeve before she had to leave. Maggie had slotted Amelia into her tight schedule so she couldn’t afford to be late. She quietly gathered together the personal portfolio she had prepared for Maggie so she could scoot out the door quickly. She hadn’t made it public knowledge that she had a meeting and didn’t want anyone asking questions. After all, she hadn’t clinched the deal yet.
Satisfied, she was giving herself a big mental tick for organisation – not always her best strength. Just as she was about to leave Amelia noticed Bev, the head secretary purposefully hurrying towards her.
“Just popping out for lunch Bev.”
“Could you spare a minute,” Bev said, as she steered Amelia towards the Board Room.
“Can’t this wait.”
“No, not today,” said Bev, as they reached the door.
Bev stepped forward, opened the door and there stood at least 20 people – all with a glass of champagne in their hand. Amelia was stunned. This was the last thing she expected. The magazine was not one of those girly friendly places. It had been all work, work, work in the five years that she had been there. Deadlines and pressure didn’t make for a chatty social environment, but here, in front of her were all the important people, and even some of her clients – all, holding their glass of bubbly.
Surrounded by happy faces, Amelia couldn’t think of a thing to say. She couldn’t run and she couldn’t stay. She needed to get to a phone and she needed to do it quickly, but the minutes ticked by as she walked around with a smile plastered on her face.
“Thank you. This is so thoughtful.”
Tick, tick, tick.
Fifteen minutes later she was in a loo cubicle with a mobile in her hand, but Maggie wasn’t answering. She heard the door to the ladies open.
“Amelia, are you in here?”
“Yep, be out in a sec.”
“The boss wants you.”
Oh geez, what now!
Andrea waved her arm as Amelia walked back into the boardroom. There was no way she could escape the boss. She would just have to keep ducking out and ringing.
Fifteen minutes later, and Maggie still wasn’t answering.
Amelia looked at the clock. 12.30, and just as she was about to make her excuses, food trollies were wheeled into the room. Oh, I give up, she thought. I will try Maggie once more, and if she doesn’t answer, I’m going to relax and enjoy this. Maggie didn’t answer and Amelia did relax, and she enjoyed herself immensely.
Much later, after she’d tidied her desk for the last time, and was heading down the street towards home, she saw the film crew up ahead. Right in the middle was Maggie. She had seen Amelia walking towards them, and was smiling.
Maggie had been called away to her shoot much earlier than she had expected and had turned off her phone. She’d left a note on her door.
All was well.
The Barefoot Fashionista’s reputation was intact.
© Inara Hawley 2017
Chapter 1 Prompt:
The character needs a particular book from the library
Chapter 2 Prompt:
The main character does something selfless that makes his or her life more difficult
Chapter 3 Prompt:
Create a two-level problem for your main character
Chapter 4 Prompt:
Create a ticking clock situation for the main character who has an appointment and can’t be late.