The Watch

Eve Mills looks through the jewellery shop window every morning.

Her job was supposed to earn pocket money for her summer holiday.  That was twenty-five years ago. Kate Byron talked her into being trained as a consultant on the cosmetics counter and Kate introduced her to the subtle love making which only another woman understands. When the affair was over she stayed with the company as she loved the products the famous brand produced. There is a unique aroma which comes from the blending of perfume, lipstick, powders, eyeliners and nail varnish, it entices the client with an illusion which is “Buy me, I will make you beautiful, beauty is magic.”  The fresh white clinical coat gives the makeup artist a magical persona. The superior look and attitude of the cosmetic consultant seems to offer a certainty rather than a possibility of rejuvenation and clients pay a high price for their skills and products.  What Eve loved, really loved was that after her training she could touch the clients as she applied the make-up. The often perfect hair, white teeth, expensive clothes of wealthy clients captivated her emotions and fuelled her aspirations. The strange arrangement was that as the clients stared into her green eyes they would become captivated and wonder if they too could look like the beautiful girl who was working a special alchemy upon their faces. And Eve is The High Priestess, when the client looks into the mirror after a twenty minute session it seems as if twenty years is lost from their appearance. It is inevitable that they return time and time again for the genius to perform her work. For Eve there was something else as she applies the makeup she can almost kiss the attractive ones.  She imagines her lips touching theirs and the tip of her tongue seducing their inhibitions.

Eve joined a drama society which met twice a week. Not for plays or companions, but for the learning of the art of acting.  In the first year she realised that the voice is key to an actors success and her voice would become honed into a special ‘normality’.  No false accent or superior falseness, she cultured a beautiful calm and sophisticated tone which was without doubt hypnotic. The poise of a trained actor, the voice of a seductress and after two years of studying psychological selling techniques Eve became the assistant floor manager earning more in commission than the basic salary.  “Why don’t you go for the area managers job Evie?” Asked Kate Byron “I prefer to be working with the public Kate.” In truth Eve could not be without the physical contact of her customers. No, she would stay where she was happy.

Over the years the counter and its makeup chair had been the conduit to many sexual relationships.  She could always tell when a client had become interested in her. The slight change in the rate of breathing, the tremor and whisper in their words.  “What do you do when you’re not working?” “I like amateur dramatics and listening to music” “Do you have a partner?”  “I’m non too keen on men at the moment.” This answer is carefully scripted as it does not suggest she is a lesbian although the words contain the innuendo she could be.  And there are married women who like the idea of a relationship with another woman, especially one as beautiful as Eve. “I’m not supposed to associate with my clients.” And then after a firm but deliberate brush stroke which applies the colour to erogenous lips “But I can make an exception if you feel you would like too…” And many times they do.  Eve loves the power over each conquest and has lost count of how many she has loved. More delicious is the after taste of each affair. Eve is able to gauge when it is time to close the book and stay good friends. And when they return as ‘knowing’ customers who then confide their hopes and fears she knows she possesses another humans soul. Eve Mills is a temptress, seducer and sex addict who should have been christened ‘Naamah’ the Hebrew female devil of seduction.

“I don’t know what you do to look after your teeth Eve, but keep on doing it they are perfect and your gums are as healthy as one could hope for.”  Jane Holt looks at her patient, Eve knows the ‘look’. That was nine months ago and she had fallen in love for the first time.  The couple took a discrete holiday to a Greek Island in the summer where they enjoyed baiting the local men and drowning them in disappointed rejection. Shop girl and wealthy professional opposites attracted.   The wedge was the social arrogance of Jane’s friends who had had their suspicions of her sexuality confirmed when Eve came into her life. There was no financial void between them, far from it Eve was the countries top earner. The inevitability of the relationships failure came from differing political and social attitudes and the separation coincided with a difficult episode in Eve’s life, the death of Kate Byron.

Before taking her life Kate wrote a will which left her substantial estate to Eve. Inevitably resulting in a vindictive and malicious campaign by Kate’s siblings who felt they should have received their sisters inheritance.

Rumour poisons the weak mind and the rumour factory went to work on an innocent victim.  Eve could feel the cold winds of malice icing previously good working relationships with colleagues and managers. The assumption that Kate had taken her life because Eve had become involved with Jane became the accepted truth. And when the contents of the will mysteriously became public knowledge the rumour followed the course of jealousy, dislike and then hatred Eve decided to leave her beloved cosmetics counter.

Within three months the area manager contacted the premier sales woman “Why don’t you come back Eve?” “What would I come back to?” “A new beginning, all of the old staff have gone, they could not meet the targets after you left.”  And so she returned determined to become the ruler of her domain and this time she chose her own staff and colleagues. The cosmetics counter is run on her terms.  Of cause each girl could be a potential conquest. Eve knows she is becoming Kate Byron.

A client sits in the chair and after some time asks “Can we meet again Eve?” The expert removes the old makeup and cleanses the skin. The process usually takes a few minutes, she’s taking her time before answering because in truth she is finding it difficult to recall the woman’s name. Removal of makeup adds to the years of a face and also reveals the true character, without makeup she remembers. As the foundation is applied to Martha’s face she asks herself the question “Where has my life gone?”  And as she begins to transform her old lover she wonders if she should become involved with Martha again. “How’s Kate Evie?” The question lead weighted her legs “Kate’s no longer with us.” “Oh what a pity, she was such a beautiful woman, so serene, so fresh…. so perfect.” And in this moment Eve realises two important certainties. She loved Kate and Kate took her life because she could no longer keep up with the passing of time and the ageing of her body.  Eve is certain of this and becomes frustrated with her client for cracking the ice of time and forcing her into the cold lake of hard truth. With every intention of breaking the promise she whispers “Can I call you later in the week?” “Of course you can Eve I’ll look forward to seeing you again in a more intimate surrounding.”  Eve finishes the makeover, Martha gaze’s into the mirror “You’ve not lost your touch Evie.” She selects same eyeliner, lipstick and blusher used in the makeover and adds a medium sized bottle of perfume to the purchase the total being a respectable one hundred and ninety-one pounds. As Eve returns the credit card Martha brushes her hand “It will be delightful to be with you again Evie”  No reply, only a knowing smile.

A small part of Kate’s bequest will pay for the Rolex. Solid gold, diamonds surrounding the bezel and highlighting the twelve hour positions. She knows the salesgirl is wondering why this customer insisted she served her.  A sale of this magnitude should have gone to the senior salesman.  Eve is firm “This young lady will serve me and you make sure she receives the commission on the sale.”  Then the hesitation “I will come back and make sure she has received it.” The documents are filled in and stamped now the credit card is authorised.  Her wrist is measured and Eve insists the watch is loose fitting. “Can I set the date and time for you madame?” “No leave it exactly at the present setting.”  The girl is confused a watch the price of her mothers new VW Golf and the customer doesn’t want it set to the correct time, day and date. Eve answers the girls thoughts. “I’m getting older and soon my looks will fade, the watch and its incorrect setting reminds me of a friend and a message  – Time is of no importance.”

She looks square into the sensuous young girls eyes “Why don’t you come to my counter? I’ll make up your face, there‘s no charge.”  The girl takes the business card looks at the older woman and has no idea why she replies “Yes…Yes, I believe I will.”

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