The Cat’s Miu was something that came to me in the airport on my way to my Iceland holiday. The sunglasses shop is right as described if you’re travelling from Heathrow’s Terminal 2. I have photos for you, but I’m trying to recover some pictures of reindeer that I accidentally deleted, and so I can’t post them until I’ve done that (or given up)[I gave up]. If you come back at the weekend,
I may have added them – they are good for a laugh! This flash fiction is just under 1200 words. I did not go skiing, and I did not buy these sunglasses, although I admit they made me look good…
The Cat’s Miu
Alice had never considered herself the sort of woman who attracted men.
During college, she’d had a few flings, but nobody that she felt had that spark that might grow into something more. In fact, she had a pretty good record of being the boy’s last fling before settling down with his future wife.
Throwing herself into her career had meant she didn’t have time for relationships. So when she had to take holiday, she generally took them on her own.
On this occasion, she was on the train to the airport for a well-deserved week’s skiing in Austria. She ran through the checklist in her head. Windows, locked; door, locked; heating, down; alarm, on; all chargers except the main phone, off. Key with neighbour in case of emergency, check. Get suncream at the airport after going through the ridiculous security screening. Sunglasses…
She didn’t remember packing sunglasses. She had her ski goggles, but could hardly sit around on the balcony halfway up the mountain at lunchtime with goggles on. No, the sunglasses had been in the car, and she hadn’t picked them up. Oh well. She’d have to buy a pair. Cheap ones.
The first shop after clearing security and passport control was a sunglasses shop. Designer sunglasses.
She looked around, getting a gentle but unpushy smile from the assistant, and picked up a pair of Raybans just to see… She laughed at her reflection. More like Tom Cruise than Penelope Cruz, but, well, the Top Gun influence was there. She squinted at the price and put them very carefully back. And that was tax free.
She wandered around the rest, unwilling to be seen as the sort of person who couldn’t afford to be in that sort of shop, and would have walked out, save for the ridiculous attraction of the Miu Miu selection.
She laughed out loud. Who on earth would buy sunglasses designed to look like a cat? She tried them on, just for fun. Well, actually, they were very attractive on her. She took them off and checked the price. Not quite as bad as the Raybans, but… The others were nice, too. How enjoyable that someone actually made fun sunglasses instead of all the other look-alikes.
She shook her head, smiled at the assistant, and walked out to attend to pre-flight sandwiches and checking her gate.
One hour later, on her way to her departure gate, she walked back into the store, and bought the ones like cat’s eyes.
It was the second day on the slopes at Söll, and the sun had come out. By now she was proficient enough to ski around the red slopes on her own. She’d never really got on in the British ski classes because they were either much faster than her, or they learnt things she’d had down pat for ten years. Her German was sufficient to keep her in polite conversation in international classes, and she’d met some Italians on the slopes from a couple of years back. She sat back with her gnocchi and cappuchino, reflecting how much Söll had changed since the early years. International cuisine, not just Austrian specialities—except the cakes. The slopes were more crowded, although more hotels and bars enabled everyone to apres-ski without it seeming over-full.
“May I join you?”
The slightly accented voice belonged to a smooth-faced gentleman with crinkles around his eyes, and grey hair escaping from his green and blue woolly hat.
“Of course,” she replied, moving her pile of gloves and ski accoutrement off the table. “How did you know I speak English?”
“I usually approach people in English. Most people speak it. Then again, few people speak Slovenian in Austria, and those are all in the Carpathians.”
“Yes, I suppose so.” Slovenian. That was new.
It could have been the start of a holiday romance, save for the fact that he ignored her when she waited for him in the Gleidiger Jul bar that evening. She could see him looking around. Then he looked at his watch a few times. She got up to go and join him, but he moved off when other people came in through the door in a flurry of snow, and she didn’t see where he went. Puzzled, she resumed her seat, and ordered a pizza.
He came up to her at lunchtime next day; they laughed about missing each other, and spent the afternoon skiing together. By now goggles were unnecessary and she just wore her sunglasses.
“You really are the most attractive woman,” Petter said as they finished the run down to the village. “I am so lucky to have met you. How long do you stay for?”
“Shame, I must leave tomorrow. We shall have a farewell meal together tonight, yes? How about at the Hochsteiner Inn?”
That was a lovely place, very upmarket.
She entered and saw him at the bar. It was brightly lit, so she put on her sunglasses.
“Ah, my dear, no mistake tonight, that is excellent. We have a table, I think?” He just raised his eyes at the waiter to be shown to their table.
It would have been a wonderful evening had it not been for other people who approached her, asking whether she would be skiing with them tomorrow.
“I didn’t realise you knew so many of these people,” he commented.
“I don’t. I can’t imagine what’s going on. I haven’t been here for years—the only people I knew are the Italians I shared a ski class with a few years ago, and they have gone already.”
“Well, we must try not to let it spoil our evening.”
But it had. The constant stream of visitors to their table only stopped when the lights were dimmed some more and she took off her glasses. Petter said little more then, and despite her attempts at conversation, seemed lost in his own world. He took out his phone when they’d finished their meal, tapped for a few minutes, then got up to pay the bill. He didn’t return. What on earth had she done? She checked with the waiter but there was nothing to pay, so she made her way back to her hotel.
For the rest of the stay she was pestered out on the slopes, but left alone in the bars. It wasn’t the most successful of holidays, although the weather was glorious.
Back in her apartment, she started to unpack, separating the unused from the washing. She brought out the sunglasses, wondering about them, the attention she got when she was wearing them. She put them on and looked at herself in the mirror.
She took them off and saw herself, a drab forty-something unlikely to gain any more promotion at work, even if she wanted it.
She put the glasses back on, pondered some more, and vowed never to take them off in public again.
Next time she went skiing, it was St. Moritz.
© J M Pett 2018