vanity case by Simon Gibson

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Vanity case.

She had finished for the day, a long day of work at the main supermarket. Having worked there for nearly three years it was close to the time that she should be moving on, and finding something else to do with her life. At 27, it was time enough to change things, for she had never had this as her dream.

As a teenager, she had believed that there was a world of opportunity and that the world really was her oyster. By 21, this had changed and she had realised that the world was someone else's oyster and, after some nasty experiences with both men and women, her trust in people had been permanently jaded. The world was a cold place for Jo Casey and one place where, in her lower moments, she wished she could just walk off the edge and escape it all.

Car alarms blaring, people chattering outside pubs, the glaring blast of headlights temporarily blinding her as she waited for the crossing sign to show green. The daily run to home would usually consist of such things; sometimes the occasional drunk would offer his services, much to the disgust of Jo. She wondered if there was some way to see just how the other half lived, for she had seen little of life, real life, in her years.

Eventually reaching home she collapsed in the small sofa and fumbled with the keys, dropping them down the side of the sofa in a desperate bid to leave them on its arm.

"Shit" she grumbled as the keys found their mark on the bottom of the inner sofa with a muffled thud. Jo wrestled with the cushions and eventually saved the keys from becoming part of the furniture.

Watching the television for an hour proved to seal her boredom until eventually, with the program ended, she switched it off and stared into space in the silence of the room. The only sounds were those of the outside world. A few beeps of a car horn, the distant siren from an ambulance and occasional meows of cats and barking dogs in the neighbouring gardens, for some reason animals never visited her garden, not that she ever had time to appreciate them if they did.

It was close to nine o' clock and still the silence reigned, but Jo had started to read a thin novel to pass the time until tiredness swept her away from that day's monotony.

The book was a Mills & Boon, and had its typical fill of romantic swooning and personal suspense, but Jo read it as if it were nothing more than a glossy magazine, with a sense of distance and unthinking dull sense which made it more of a chore than a pleasure to read. Eventually the tedium of trying to fill in time became too much and she went to bed.

That night she had a nightmare; one that was not so scary as it was real.

It started with a man standing at her front door trying to sell her perfume. She had kept the chain on as he had arrived late at night, but in the dream, this was unusual but common sense prevailed. She eventually trusted him enough to open the door and let him in. In his left hand he carried a box, obviously full of trial products, and in his other had he held a small briefcase.

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