“We’ve decided to close all the branches.”
In the few seconds it took for her mother’s words to filter through her brain, Ani’s mouth opened and closed without saying anything. When her brain had finished its functions, she still asked her mother to repeat herself and pressed the receiver to her ear to make sure she heard every word.
“We’ve decided to close the branches and just have the one store.”
“Just like that?” Ani asked
“No. Not just like that. It is too much work having three stores and it costs a lot more money for all the stock, so we’re just going to have the one.”
“But what about me?’ Ani asked incredulously.
“What about you?”
“You haven’t said one word about this to me at all!” Ani almost wailed.
“Why should we have?”
“Because it’s my life too that you’re affecting.”
“It’s for the better Ani.”
Ani could not believe what she was hearing. Her entire life flashed through her brain and she looked about helplessly. She had spent two years trying to get this business up and running and they were pulling the rug out from under her feet. Her tongue felt leaden as she asked the inevitable, “When?”
“We’re moving out of the mall in 90 days and into a place downtown.”
“What about me?” she asked once more.
“You are to call the landlord and give him notice that you’re leaving, and then we want you to put on a sale and get rid of as many of the old coats as you can.”
“What about all these consignment goods?”
“Call the people to come get their junk or it goes to the dump.” Her mother’s exasperated tone was quite evident as it came down the line.
When Ani hung up the phone she stood staring about her before bursting into tears. They were doing it again but in a much different way this time. It was obvious that her life didn’t matter to her parents and that they were just interested in their own. A twinge of panic nudged at her stomach as she briefly thought of how she would support herself, but she pushed it away for later. Instead she picked up the phone and called the landlord and then the newspaper to place the necessary ads. Unwilling to think past what she had to do, she started in on the phone calls to the owners of the consignment goods in the second room. Some of the people wanted their goods back, but most of them told her to dispose of the stuff herself. She informed them that if anything sold before the store closed, that she would make sure that they got their cut of the money.
At the end of the day she locked the door and started home. She bought a newspaper and read the help wanted ads while she ate her supper, then crawled into bed. She knew she had already decided. She wasn’t going to move back to Sudbury and work for her parents. She loved Guelph and she loved her freedom from her family. The future didn’t look easy right at the moment, but she felt she could come up with something. Just what that something was, she didn’t know. Vaguely she wondered if something had happened in Timmins. Had the affair been discovered? Her mother hadn’t sounded overly distressed about anything. But her mind circled the idea and picked at it like a scab. Had Jerome broken off the relationship or had the woman done it first? Perhaps that was why he had decided to close that branch and her store had been sucked into the whirling vortex. Maybe Margaret was getting close to finding out and Jerome was taking precautions. Heaving a huge sigh, she turned her pillow over, plumped it up and fell back into it, praying for sleep.
As the days counted down, Ani was no closer to deciding what type of job she would look for once the store closed. Living in a university town she considered returning for some kind of degree, but she didn’t have the finances to sustain that kind of ambition. At night she worked on her references and read the help wanted ads, but everything seemed so bleak. A seed of panic had sprouted in her brain and it made her edgy and nervous.