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36BC

It didn’t fit. It was the right style and cupped her left breast like a glove, but the right side gaped.

“Everything alright?”

Angie twisted, checking all angles in the mirror. “I’m going to try it with the blouse,” she said, bending to extract a small square of folded white cotton from a blue plastic bag.

“Call if you need me.”

“Will do.” Angle shook the blouse, tags flapping. She dressed, muttering, “Why white?” as she fumbled with buttons. “I can see straight through it.”

She smoothed down the creases and scrutinised her reflection. The blouse flattered her petite frame but a sturdy bra beneath was a must. Popping the top button, she adjusted the bra’s straps and wriggled, trying to get comfortable. Her shoulders sagged. It felt wrong – the bra, the blouse, going back to waiting tables after thirty years. It all felt wrong.

“At least they allow trousers and flat shoes,” she said, recalling the short skirts and spiked heels she’d worn as a teenage waitress.

“Sorry? Did you say something?”

Angie started. She’d forgotten the sales assistant hovering outside. “No, I…” She paused. “Actually… Do these bras come in mixed cup sizes?”

“Mixed sizes?”

“You know, for uneven breasts. You said my measurement was BC.”

“Thirty-six BC, yes, but,” the sales assistant tittered, “that would look a bit odd, wouldn’t it? The bra, I mean, not lopsided breasts. They’re quite common. Apparently, the left breast’s usually the bigger one.” She cleared her throat. “If it helps, all our bras are on offer; buy one get one free. You could take a thirty-six B and C, try them out.”

Angie sighed. That would have to do.

*

Rafe kissed the top of Angie’s head. “You look great,” he said with an encouraging smile. “How d’you feel?”

Angie thought a moment. How did she feel? Scared, annoyed, betrayed? Definitely betrayed. Twenty years of her life had been spent building up an efficient department. Twenty years of hard work and stress. How dare they cast her and her team aside in favour of an online company? Yes, betrayed and angry. And now the only work she could find was waiting tables – a job she’d done as a student, never thinking she’d return to it.

“I’m nervous,” she said, not wanting to elaborate.

“You’ll be fine and it’s only temporary.”

Temporary? If only… There were no payroll clerk vacancies in the area. None. It seemed that all the local firms had done away with their in-house wages departments. There were jobs in the south but that was no good; the kids were settled in school and Rafe would never commute.

She forced a smile then quickly scooped up her cardigan. She tugged it on, the roomy right bra cup denting as she brushed against it. 36BC. Prehistoric. She felt prehistoric. Also feeling slightly nauseous, she tried not to think about the twenty-four-year-old Restaurant Manager’s dimples when he smiled or the youthful, laughing eyes of the mostly teenage waiting staff. How could she possibly fit in? She was forty-eight; a mother with children almost the same age as the waitresses.

She looked up as Rafe patted her on the arm.

“Good luck,” he said jovially. “I’m rooting for you.”

*

Angie pulled pins from her hair and fluffed it out. Done for the day, she sauntered home enjoying the sunshine and a cooling breeze on her face. The lunchtime shift had been busy but, for once, she had the evening off. A relaxing hour in the garden could be slotted in before her hungry horde demanded feeding and ‘Mum’s Taxi’ was required.

Work had been good – hectic and tiring, but fun. She liked the energetic, youthful staff and, after years locked away in an office, mingling with the public was surprisingly pleasant. Her feet ached; even wearing flats, they hurt all the time, but that was her only complaint. Yes, the job was good, she liked it. And now the promotion: Assistant Manager after only three months. A smile spread across her face, she couldn’t wait to tell Rafe.

But, as she turned into her driveway, the smile faded; Rafe’s car was parked up. It shouldn’t be. Her heart sank, stomach aching as if punched. She’d heard rumours, rumblings, talk of redundancies, and when Rafe met her at the door, his eyes confirmed her fears.

“It’s not all bad,” he said. “They’ve offered me work at the Kent branch. Not as a supervisor but the wage is decent.”

“Kent?” Angie sighed. “That’s too bad but something will turn up. You can always find something temporary,” she said brightly, “like—”

“Serving in a restaurant?”

His derogatory tone turned Angie’s blood cold. She stared. “You haven’t taken it, have you?”

“Yes. Of course. I know it’s an upheaval but there’re schools in Kent. Good ones.”

Angie clenched her teeth. Then, drawing a breath, nodded.

*

Surrounded by boxes, Angie unbuttoned her blouse for the last time. Reaching behind, she unclipped her bra and wriggled free. She put on a t-shirt while contemplating the tasks ahead: moving, unpacking, settling the kids into their new school. Her new house was a transitory rental, her current house yet to be sold, and Rafe’s job started immediately. She’d be busy.

There were payroll clerk vacancies in Kent but quite when she’d find time to work again, she didn’t know. Not office hours anyway. Lunchtime waitressing? She folded her blouse then picked up the white bra. She held it, finger and thumb compressing the soft cups… On a whim, she pulled a collection of bras from a drawer. She selected two – one C cup, one B – and, finding scissors, snipped them in half. She sewed two mismatched halves with neat stitches. Done, she slipped on her creation.

“Better,” she said, feeling the snugness of both cups. “Much better. That wasn’t so hard, was it?” Putting her t-shirt back on, she surveyed the stack of boxes. “I can do this,” she said with a decisive nod. “I’ll be fine.”

 

 

 

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