The Right Way Up' by Shirley Golden
She’d held her position for forty-five minutes after walking past the “get well soon” cards and settling in the humorous birthday section.
She wasn’t in the way; in fact, only one customer had seen her and he’d thought it amusing. But Kirby didn’t like it. He’d worked in “Greetings” for over two months and nothing like this had ever happened. He was damned if he was going to lose his first job; especially not over a loopy customer. His manager had left him in charge, with the usual list of instructions, whilst she indulged in her extended lunch hour.
He took a breath and strode back up the aisle. ‘Right,’ he said. ‘You’ve had your fun. It’s time to leave.’
Her gaze followed his flapping arms. ‘Evanna,’ she said.
It was the only word she had spoken and he assumed it was her name. Perhaps she was unable to speak English? But he was beginning to suspect otherwise. He’d offered her a cuppa at first, other ideas failing him. Then he freaked and left her to it for half-an-hour, thinking she’d get bored and leave. He wasn’t sure how long a headstand could be maintained, or if it would get him into trouble. Were there rules in retail about what to do with customers performing gymnastics on the shop floor? Were there procedures that needed to be followed, like when the fire alarm went off? He needed a more comprehensive list of instructions on possible scenarios.
‘I’ll have to call the police,’ he said.
She didn’t respond.
Her hair was so blonde it must be dyed. It splayed out in a fan around her head. He imagined it would touch her shoulder blades when she was the right way up.
She couldn’t be more than sixteen. He wasn’t much older than that.
‘All the blood’ll rush to your head,’ he said.
‘Is that your name?’ he asked again.
Her feet were bare and she wiggled her toes. On her ankles were markings which he assumed were tattoos.
He moved lower and closer. Her eyes were the colour of the oceans, like in his mum’s well-thumbed holiday brochures, of places she dreamed she would visit.
He twisted to be at the same angle as the girl.
As if against his will, he kicked his legs in the air. Side-by-side they balanced in an upside-down headstand-off.
And it must have been the rush of blood to his head because her expression lit the entire shop floor.