Agnes had developed a new Saturday hobby of shopping for furniture. She felt very grown up perusing home ware for her new apartment. Not so new any more, she had been there six months and was pretty well furnished – if not overly furnished – already. But it had become a fun little occupation that she didn't want to give up just because the apartment was bursting at the seams. There was always a new curiosity to uncover. So she was here at an antiques fair wandering slowly up and down the aisles.
It was a gentle, peaceful sort of leisure time which was the deliberate effect she had been cultivating for herself. Peace, tranquility, calm and quiet. She was recuperating from stress and drama and was indeed feeling much less tense than the previous year, even before Elin had crashed back in to her life. She had got rid of her television and spent her evenings poring over psychology text books from the library and writing murder mystery social commentary crime fiction, which appealed to her more wicked side and apparently there was a booming market for. In short, life was pretty good and she was pretty proud of herself.
Foregoing the temptation of a box of horseshoes she put them back on to the trestle table and moved on. It was reasonably busy but there was a respectfully subdued air, like in a museum. Nice looking couples milled around talking in low tones. Agnes began to feel that familiar tug of her intestines, a gentle reminder of her loneliness. Try as she might she had not been able to put Elin out of her mind. Sometimes she didn't even try, she took the desperate sensation and wallowed in it. That would teach her, she thought. She would be better, next time. But there was only one person she wanted a next time with. And she had already ruined that.
Agnes rounded the corner to the next row of tables, trailing her hand over the trinkets laid out on them, idly glancing over them. She became aware of someone stood in her way as she moved further down the aisle, so glanced up and stepped round at the same time her proximity caused the other person to do the same.
Elin glanced up to gauge the strangers approach. When she recognised Agnes she took a little step back, flustered. Part of her had always thought, had secretly considered, quietly wished for just such a reunion. And it would be somewhere like this. It still came as a shock and with its own fears.
Agnes shook involuntarily as every muscle in her body tensed. It was Elin. Of course it was Elin. She smiled quickly, eager to show there were no hard feelings and that this was a happy moment rather than traumatic.
"Hey," Elin said, small but perfect. She returned the smile. It was as if they had never been apart, never mind the last six months but the last ten years. It just felt so right.
"Hello," said Agnes, the smile a little shy now but completely glued to her face.
"I was just looking for a new..." Elin looked down at the mirror in her hands as she moved to replace it on the floor where it had been leaning against a table. But the angle wasn't quite right, Elin distracted by Agnes' presence, so that it slid in graceful slow motion all the way to the floor and smashed loudly.
Elin winced, tensing her shoulders and keeping her eyes closed as the echo died away.
"What was the price on that?" she asked Agnes, eyes still closed.
Agnes consulted the brochure. "Three thousand kronor."
Elin winced some more. "That's like a months rent. I wasn't even going to buy it. I didn't even like it." Finally she opened her eyes and beheld the mess at her feet and the angry staff heading in her direction.
Agnes looked down at the mess as well. "Well I quite like it. I think I'll buy it."
Elin scoffed adorably.
"No really. It's probably even better in pieces. Symbolic or commemorative or something. I don't know." The assistants arrived but Agnes cut through however they were going to approach this wanton vandalism by some scruffy young woman. "If I wanted to buy this mirror," Agnes indicated the thousand tiny mirrors on the floor, "Can you pack it for me?"
Elin tried to protest but was giggling.
"Ma'am, this is no laughing matter. You will have to pay for this."
"I will, I will," Elin avoided Agnes' eye to avoid laughing. "I'm sorry."
"No, I will," Agnes interjected as they made their way to the till with one member of staff as the other remained to sweep up the mirror's remains. "I happen to be a great fan of mirrors smashed by Elin Olsson."
At the checkout Elin turned and beheld Agnes semi-seriously. "I'll go halves with you and we'll stick it back together again."
"Deal," Agnes agreed as they both pulled out their credit cards. "We'll take it in two bags," she told the sales assistant.
Back at Elin's flat they deposited the bags of tiny mirrors on the floor. Elin peeked in, just to make sure it hadn't miraculously recovered. It hadn't. She sighed. "You know I worked it out one time, that the years of bad luck from smashing mirrors expands past any natural life span I might achieve. Even if I live to one hundred. And that's only from the mirrors I have broken up to now. Never mind any mirrors I have yet to meet. And inevitably break."
Agnes smiled, small and shy. The little inflections in Elin's voice, her tone and the thought processes as she ambled her way to a conclusion... it was all so familiar and so wonderfully Elin. That Agnes loved so much.
It was unbearable now, this need. Agnes had to keep reminding herself how things were different, how they had decided this. They were being sensible and grown up.
Over the past few months Elin had begun to harbour a dangerous thought that she might have been wrong, before. Sure it had been a mess, the execution of the reunion had been awful. But that didn't mean the whole idea was an awful one. And the longer time went on the less awful it seemed.
Elin balanced against the kitchen counter and watched Agnes for a moment, dragging her eyes up and down and not even minding when Agnes seemed to notice. She just tweaked an eyebrow in an almost-challenge. Eventually though the tension grew even too much for Elin.
"Mm, please." Agnes leant up against the refrigerator. She was sure Elin had been checking her out. She felt that old familiar current dancing between them. But hadn't they decided they were new people now? That they weren't teenagers any more. That they had moved on from all that.
Elin backed in to the kitchen, opened the cupboard and all Agnes could see was boxes of chocolate milk. There it was. It had always been there.
Elin turned to Agnes to ask what she might like but Agnes was looking in to the cupboard as though she had seen a ghost. The chocolate milk! Elin looked back at it quickly. Shit, she had been discovered. She looked back at Agnes again, resigned to having lost a few points in the grown up game. But Agnes' returning gaze was electric.
In two strides Agnes was over the linoleum and pressing Elin up against the counter, her hands on Elin's hips and crushing in to the cupboards behind. Her whole body was pressed against Elin's where it fit so perfectly. Elin's hands were in her hair, pulling her closer. And they were kissing, kissing like it were the first time, but as if they had never stopped.
Thank you everyone for reading and reviewing, I really appreciate it. It's been enormous fun.