Kiki Lowenstein and the Bad Day (Part II)

Note: I asked my Facebook peeps to suggest starting sentences for a Kiki Lowenstein short story. There were so many terrific ideas that I have decided to try to incorporate more than one — and write a progressive short story. You’ll be reading this as I create it! Wish me luck!

Note: This short story comes before Ready, Scrap, Shoot—and Kiki is six weeks pregnant.

In last week’s installment—Kiki walked into Time in the Bottle only to discover papers scattered everywhere. Detective Chad Detweiler arrived to pronounce the store “safe,” but Kiki’s still wondering what’s up. Now her friend Margit has shown up for work.

Margit Eichen, my co-worker, blinked at me from behind her sparklingcats’ eye glasses and solemnly looked around at the strewn papers. “What a mess!”

“You’ve got that right,” I said as I ushered Gracie into her doggy play pen. “How about if you open and I’ll clean this up. I have a feeling some of these are ruined. If so, I need to know how badly.”

Margit nodded. “Maybe you can do something with the ruined pieces, ja?”

“Right,” I said, trying to maintain a positive attitude. Between saying prayers for my unborn child and listening to my snoring oversized dog, I haven’t been sleeping well lately. Even with a full eight hours of shut-eye, this situation would be perplexing. As tired as I felt, I really wasn’t prepared to take on this unexpected challenge. *

A few of the papers looked fine, but many had suspiciously shredded edges, almost as if they’d been ripped as they sat in their thin plastic bindings. I sorted the papers into two groups. Because our culprit had chosen to destroy rainbow packs, I stared down at a damaged and an undamaged pile of bright yellow, bright blue, bright red, bright orange and bright green papers.

Hmmm. I knew from experience that if I let my subconscious work on the problem, it would come up with a solution, so I turned my attention to a project that Margit had accepted for me: a customized baby album. Since the child’s gender was unknown, the parents had requested that I create the album in shades of yellow and white. Starting it would be easy. The hardest part about doing a baby’s scrapbook is where does one stop? With the birth? The baptism or naming ceremony? You had to draw a line somewhere!**

There was also another new custom project set aside for me to tackle. These photos screamed to be put on a layout. But what paper? What design? I’m usually creative, but this one stumped me. ***Riffling through the pictures, I saw one image after another of a wedding ceremony held deep in a forest. I thought to myself, “What a perfect setting for a wedding!”****  

But most of the wedding-themed papers we sell are white or cream and very formal–and that would overwhelm these pictures. This bride wore a simple tunic-like dress and a sheer veil pinned to her auburn hair with a wreath of flowers. Her groom’s shirt, jacket and slacks were white linen, while his tie repeated the greens and browns of the scenery. It got me thinking about my own wedding. Would Detweiler ever officially propose? I mean, we’d talked about getting married. But in my romantic heart, I was hoping for him to go down on bended knee and ask.

My face must have given away my longings, because when Margit walked past me on her way to the restroom, she said, “Too many thoughts, ja?”

“Ja,” I agreed and I started pacing. I looked over at Gracie in her playpen. Those expressive brown eyes begged for a dog biscuit, so I fed her one and shared with her my “to do” list.  “First things first. I need an idea for an upcoming crop.”

When she didn’t respond, I rubbed Gracie’s big head. “You know, girlfriend, for the first time in a very long time, everything is finally going right in my life, except that I worry about how Time in a Bottle will run while I’m on maternity leave.” *****

Of course that was many months away, so again, I forced myself to tackle things one at a time. We needed a crop idea for the first week in May. Something new. Everyone does May baskets and May Day celebrations. I want us to go boldly where no scrapbook store has gone before!

Right then the door minder rang, so I trotted out front to greet our customer. Teresa Alvarez gave me a huge one-armed hug as I approached her because in her other hand, she carried a big bright pink shopping bag. “I have a special gift for you,” she said shyly. Teresa’s family came here illegally, and we’ve been cheering her on as she navigates the tricky waters to citizenship. “This is to celebrate. On May 5, I become US citizen!”

“Hurrah!” I cheered. “But what’s in the bag? Is it for me? Really? Can I open it now?”


Thanks to: *Karen M. Rushton, **Barbara Tobey, ***De-Anne Trasker, ****Stella Carsten and *****Mary Patricia Kennedy

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