A New Role For Joy
The advertisement read: ‘Shop for Sale. Excellent position. Would suit small business in busy shopping precinct. Very reasonable terms.’
And that’s how it all started. The dingy shop was soon repainted, cleaned and sparkling, ready for Joy and Kaye to start their new business, called ‘Coffee Café’.
Joy and Kaye had been best friends since kindergarten. Both were excellent cooks and both were enthusiastic workers.
They had put big advertisements in the paper, but now anxiety crept in.
‘What if no-one turns up tomorrow, and we have all these cakes and food to get rid of?’ Kaye said, full of foreboding.
‘We’ll worry about that when it happens.’
They need not have worried. Customers flocked there, sampling the delicious fare. At the end of the day, both were wrung out with exhaustion, but on cloud nine just the same. The takings had been astonishing.
When Joy arrived home to get the family tea, she tried to tell her mother and sister, Dawn, about the successful day.
‘Wait until the novelty wears off. You won’t be so full of things then will you?’
Joy sighed. That was the reply she had expected.
‘How did you raise enough money to buy the shop and the fittings in the first place?’ her mother asked, suspiciously.
Well, here goes nothing, Joy thought. ‘I invested my bequest from Dad into the shop; we did a lot of the labour ourselves, as well as most of the cooking. You should come in and see. It looks great.’
‘Mercy, you don’t know the first thing about business and all its traps. You’ll lose all your money. Besides, Dawn was relying on your help to start a hairdressing business – don’t tell me you put the whole lot in?’ Then, as she saw Joy shaking her head, showing there was no money of hers for them to plunder, she added, ‘How selfish of you. Dawn’s business would have brought money into the house. I can’t understand you spending so much time down there, without even being paid for your work.’
‘I don’t even get paid for the work I do here,’ retorted Joy.
‘You get a roof over your head and food on the table for one thing,’ chided her mother.
‘Dawn works hard enough in the office, why not you too?’ This was an old argument and she couldn’t be bothered continuing it.
It’s always about Dawn, Joy said to herself. Dawn is the pretty one, the one Mother fawns over. Dawn squandered her money long ago, probably Mum’s too. Who cares about our wonderful shop opening? No-one here. She left them in disgust.
Her mother was quite wrong. The business thrived. The two girls worked hard until eventually they had to put on first one helper, then another, and that allowed Joy more time to spend on the household chores. In fact, over a period of five years, the business had turned into a gold mine, and the bequest money had long been replaced.
One day her mother said, ‘Mary Chambers is going for a holiday, to a house in a place called Diamond Bay, on the Hawkesbury River. It used to belong to her family but now it’s hers. She’s asked us along and wonders if you would cook for us all? I said we’d be glad to go.’
Mary’s a good old stick, thought Joy, but I’d bet the inclusion of me to cook for them was Mum’s idea. Still, it’ll be good to have a break.
They flew to Sydney and then caught a coach to Gosford, then a taxi to Diamond Bay, and it was a tedious journey. Still, the house was lovely and so was everything else.
There was plenty of time for Joy to explore this lovely little town on her own. There were lots of trees, a small river running in behind the town, and spectacular scenes, especially near the Hawkesbury itself. Joy was enchanted.
Her mother casually told them both that it was too far away, and she would never come back. With that in mind, Joy sought out an estate agent, quietly, who showed her several small houses, and she fell instantly in love with one small one.
She placed a deposit on her little house, with the rest of the arrangements to be handled by her solicitor. The family solicitor was a good friend. He soon had the property secured and had it leased for two years, when it would practically be paid off.
When the lease expired, Joy consulted Kaye, confiding her plans to move into her very own home in New South Wales.
‘It’s time to move on and be independent.’
‘It’s so far away,’ moaned Kaye. ‘I’ll miss you too much.’
‘Being a long way away is the idea really,’ said Joy. ‘I’ll leave behind all the arguments and the bias at home. P’raps Dawn can have a go at keeping Mum happy with work done round the house,’ she laughed bitterly. ‘I’m leaving by plane next Monday. You’re well established now. It’s been a privilege watching it grow, and a privilege to have worked with you, Kaye.’
‘It wouldn’t even be here without your help,’ sobbed Kaye. She gave Joy a big hug, and both of them shed a few tears.
On the day she left, her mother had seen her to the front door, with a final salvo, ‘I really don’t know why you are doing this. It has to be the stupidest thing you’ve ever done.’ Then, unexpectedly, in a softer tone she added, ‘But I wish you all the best. Good luck, Joy,’ giving her a hug and a kiss on the cheek before turning away.
This surprising concern brought tears, which Joy couldn’t stem as she climbed miserably into the taxi for her trip to Tullamarine airport. One happy thought, I’ll be able to offload these two heavy cases, she reasoned.
Waiting for the plane announcements, she sat thinking over the past few years’ events, since her father had died, and her depression deepened. Joy and her father had been close, and she’d always missed him.
At last the speaker burst into life with an announcement that boarding had commenced for the 10 am Qantas plane to Sydney. Joy started from her reverie, wiping some tears away hastily.
No-one sat in the seat next to her. Thank goodness, she thought. I’m not in a mood to chat to anyone, but the seat will be handy for dumping some of my stuff.
Gazing out of the window she sighed, thinking of the boring five hours’ journey stretching before her.
Suddenly, she became aware that a man was standing at the seat beside her.
‘Oh, I beg your pardon,’ she said, now flustered as she tried quickly to retrieve her things, but a coat and a book escaped on to the floor.
‘Here, allow me.’
‘Thank you very much,’ she murmured in consternation. She looked up to see a pair of twinkling brown eyes, and with hand extended he politely introduced himself. ‘My name’s Ted Burton, and I’m sorry to have disturbed you,’ he said, laughing away her confusion.
‘I’ve been visiting my daughter and her young family in
Melbourne,’ he told her, ‘quite a change from my usually quiet existence. Mind you, it won’t be bad to be able to sit quietly and relax a bit after all the noise and action in my daughter’s house. You see my grandchildren are very energetic.’
‘Oh, well I’m the opposite; I’m going on quite an adventure. I’m going to Diamond Bay and it‘ll be late in the day by the time I get there – that is, just supposing I can find the right bus to catch at the terminal.’ She smiled shyly. ‘I’m Joy by the way.’
‘Hello Joy. Well I can certainly help there. I know Central station pretty well, and can show you where to go if you wish. I’d be glad to lend a hand.’
‘Thank you again,’ said Joy. ‘I’d be very grateful for your help.’
Joy found it was pleasant, after all, to have someone to speak to, and found herself chatting to him easily. In fact, they chatted in turn for the whole trip, Joy managing to tell him how she came to be headed for Diamond Bay.
He was sorry she and her mother had not had a happy liaison, for he’d lost both his mother and his wife within days of each other, several years ago, and had immersed himself in his work ever since.
At one point Joy told him about the house she was headed for. ‘I’m so excited to be moving in permanently,’ she sparkled. ‘It’s quite a small house but has no garden, so I’ve a heap of work to do there. It even has a small garage, but I don’t have a car yet,’ she giggled.
Then more soberly, ‘I’ll miss Kaye terribly,’ and her voice wobbled ominously.
‘She might join you for holidays,’ he suggested.
‘Yes, we intend to do that, and you never know, we might start up a branch of our Coffee Café in Diamond Bay. Now that would be something.’
They chatted away happily.
On arrival in Sydney, Ted showed her where she should go to catch the bus to Gosford and put her luggage into the receiving depot. They were quite early, so Ted suggested they have a tea break in the meantime, and courteously escorted her to a table, insisting on paying for their repast.
Joy gratefully sipped the hot tea, feeling at home with her new companion.
The coach pulled into the terminus on time and they were to part ways.
As the heavy cases were being stacked aboard the coach, Joy said, ‘Thank you for your pleasant company and all your help, and thank you for listening to me so kindly. I’m afraid I bent your ear rather badly.’
Ted realised he was about to lose his new friend. He smiled. ‘Look, I must hear the end of your story. Here’s my card – may I have your phone number? Please keep in touch, and keep me up-to-date with how you’re getting on. If you don’t ring me, I’ll ring you.’
Giving him her mobile number she promised that she would.
Her coach was waiting.
He shook her hand, holding it a little longer than was usual. ‘I have a better idea,’ he said. ‘We have so much to talk about, how about I come up one Saturday, in a week or so, and we can try out some of the opposition coffee places – see what you are up against?’
‘I’d love that,’ beamed a very happy Joy. She waved and went inside the coach with a light step.
She knew that this was the start of something wonderful for her.
BIO: Shirley comes from Rosebud, Victoria and is new creative writer. She has had several short stories and magazine articles published during the last six months and won a competition.