a few weeks of working, Mrs. Hibbert found herself promoted
four days a week. Portia disappeared with nary a trace. The
and she reached a meeting of the minds, although she knew
they would never
gave her keys and asked her to open in the mornings. She was
valued employee! Her sense of self-worth experienced an extreme
which led to all sorts of interesting interactions with Mr.
was one thing, though, that was proving to be problematic.
was of an age that she was unfortunately afflicted with the
leveler among middle-aged women: the Dreaded Hot-Flash.
time it happened, the customer she was talking to watched
flush rise up her neck to take over her head with some trepidation.
to ignore it, but as beads of sweat popped from her brow,
he found himself
unable to concentrate on natural sunblock.
you all right? he asked.
was a young man of no great exposure to women of menopausal
Virginias direct answer (Of course dear, its
just a hot flash.) left him
puzzled. Subsequent research caused him great embarrassment.
He was unable
to contemplate going in the store again for several weeks.
was advancing. It was sometime during the following week that
H. realized that the store air-conditioning was not going
chill the store against the afternoon sun. Combining the California
afternoon with a hot flash was clearly not a supportable combination
store clerk who was dealing with the public and needed to
keep more than
half a brain about herself. Something had to be done.
thing she tried was keeping damp washcloths in the cooler.
objected to this.
H., we cant do that. If the health inspectors came in
we could lose
our food license!
I need them! she protested as rivulets of sweat rolled
beet-red face and her pantyhose became damply crawly.
you bring in a cooler to keep them in? Like a picnic cooler?
suppose I could. Of course, it wouldnt be as handy as
keeping them in
here because Id have to go into the back to get them,
so I guess Id have
to lock up, but if thats what you want me to do I guess
Okay! Theres room under the front counter, he
agreed quickly. But
at the end of your shift youll have to put it in the
awhile she would mop her face and neck with cool cloths, and
the cold water into her hair. Sometimes it felt like steam
was rising from
her, but it did seem to help with the outer manifestations.
It didnt do
much to make her more comfortable though.
was borne completely of her own doing. The fact was, Mrs.
Hibbert had a secret.
years, her form had not maintained its sylph-like slenderness.
Especially, after her children reached the age where sweets
were a normal
part of their diet, she was unable to keep herself from gaining
amount of weight every year. Although she struggled, it was
not to be her
form continued to thicken as the years passed.
worse, her upper bits had not swelled with the lower bits,
an imbalance in the proper shape, which she battled with all
ingenuity that fashion could suggest.
her nicely feminine shape owed more or less everything to
of foundation garments that were very nearly waterproof and
heat with a devilish intensity. The upper garment consisted
of a wide set of
rubberized traction-stays around her midriff, combined with
combination of underwires and stuffing which shoved everything
up (there was
a sad tendency to sag) and balanced the remainder.
lower companion was a long-line long-thigh panty girdle
several sizes smaller than the manufacturer recommended for
measurements, pulled over pantyhose. In order to camouflage
the swellings of
flesh that appeared at the edges of these garments (were they
places they could have been called panty-lines), she topped
with a full slip of an opaque nylon, which breathed not, neither
of this, she wore the outer garments of the day.
while cold compresses soothed her fevered brow, puddles of
formed in her cleavage, and her entire body felt as if it
was about to melt
in place. What to do? She couldnt disrobe in the store.
She couldnt go
without her battle-armor. There was only one other way she
was that one day Tom arrived about noon to find the store
let himself in, turned the door sign to Open and
gave a holler.
H! he called. Where are you?
here, she replied.
found her she was standing in front of the cooler, leaning
She was wearing one of her cold cloths draped over her head.
Then he noticed
that she was standing in a bucket of water. It was a nice,
blue, five gallon
bucket, and the water rose nearly to the knees of her hosed
on break! she snapped, sweat oozing from every pore.
you should go in the back? he asked tentatively.
no cooler back there, she said.
where did you get the bucket? he asked.
was in the back.
think its the one I soak the fresh tofu in, he
startled. It is?
think so, he confirmed. Uh
she sighed. Im sorry Tom.
lets just keep it our secret. There havent been
about the tofu have there?
I dont think so.
about the sprouts? I rinse them in it too.
people love our sprouts, she said, on surer ground here.
about them, especially the mixed with radish which I guess
some people like
although I think theyre too hot myself and they should
be grown a week
longer so theyd be milder, but I guess if they did that
the bean sprouts
would be too far gone and would be bitter and woody. But I
cant stand the
radish mix myself, she added, even on sandwiches.
nice. Just the same I think Id better get a new bucket
for that don
suppose so, she agreed. Although I dont
really like this bucket much.
The bottom is too small for my feet and its hard to
keep your balance whit
your toes wedged up in the air.
you should buy one of those plastic washtubs, he said.
nodding in agreement when the store door opened to admit a
Tom and she both jerked as if caught at something illicit.
towards the front of the shop and she made an abortive turn
to see if it was
one of her regulars.
occurred. She lost her balance and began to tip over, like
Christmas tree on a stand that was very much too small for
it. Tom, a step
away, felt her clutch at his back on her way down. His shirt
strangle him for a moment until a button popped and he felt
an iron hand
grab the seat of his pants.
suppressed avoirdupois made Mrs. H. dense. In spite of her
his pants she continued to fall, straight as timber, her feet
encased in the
bucket of doom.
a belt wearer. Neither did he affect suspenders. In fact,
already sprouting the kind of gut under which the waist of
his pants dipped,
not willing to assay the distance around his middle. While
he liked to think
that he was still a young gentleman of fine figure, his best
wont to refer to him as either the chinless wonder
or the buttless
wonder depending on which side of him was facing them
at the time.
density and grip combined with Toms paucity of rearward
assets to cause his pants to descend with her to the floor.
86, spry, and not easily shocked, was greeted by Tom with
shirt askew and boxers flapping above mottled and hairy thighs
clearly had never seen the sun.
stared, open-mouthed, the young man succumbed to his own forward
motion and the pants around his ankles. He pitched straight
at her, uttering
a cry of dismay.
uttered a small squeak and stepped back, only now seeing
Virginia, layers of underwear exposed to full, if modest,
view, lying in a
large puddle of water, her lower limbs disappearing into blue
cold cloth upon her head had slipped down over her still red
face. She brushed it aside to look at the elderly woman.
recovered first. May I help you? she asked.
stuff: Please do not print, copy or distribute this without
permission from the author. All rights reserved. Copyright
© 2001 Alexandra R.
Nyfors. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly