“Oh God, she’s coming in.”
Bethany paused over her work, her hands lightly resting on either side of the material she was feeding through the sewing machine.
“That …” Robert hunched forward and stage whispered across the small shop. “That homeless woman.”
Bethany arched a brow before shifting her eyes back to the seam she was mending. “That homeless woman has a name, Robert – Coney.”
“Coney,” Robert snorted and scooted further into the shop as the woman neared the door. “What sort of lame ass name is that?”
“It’s short for Connie,” Bethany answered back and straightened up in her chair as the bell over the door chimed to indicate someone had entered.
Bethany noticed that Robert immediately pretended to be engrossed in the shelves that housed their scrap material and she resisted the urge to sigh. She loved her shop assistant, she truly did, but his snobbery really grated on her nerves at times.
“Hey Coney,” she said and grabbing a straight pin from her zebra pin cushion (her niece had given it to her for her last birthday), she marked a stopping point in the material before getting out of her chair to see what the woman wanted. She knew, from past experience, that Coney wouldn’t venture too far into the belly of the shop but preferred to remain just inside the door thereby insuring a quick and easy getaway if needed.
“H…h…hello Bethany,” the woman fairly whispered and Bethany gave her a warm smile. Coney had been coming to her shop, on and off, for the past six months and she was just now to the point where she felt comfortable enough to call her by name, the woman had insisted on addressing her as Miss Sewing Lady up until that point. It had taken Bethany nearly five months to gently coax the woman to call her by her first name.
Bethany paused to grab a sandwich from behind the counter before approaching Coney.
“What can I do for you today?” Bethany asked and as discretely as possible, she handed the sandwich over to Coney. The woman just as discretely pocketed the sandwich inside her over-sized apron.
Bethany never really understood why the woman insisted on wearing an apron over the four layers of clothes she always had on and every time she asked, Coney changed the subject. She presumed it was because Coney’s clothes were her most precious asset and she didn’t want to get them dirty or possibly damage them in any way, so she wore an apron over them to protect them.
“I,” her dark brown eyes darted over to Robert and she lowered her voice even more. She had to lean forward a bit in order to hear her. “I have some more clothes that need mending,” she said, a soft flush peeking through the grime on her cheeks.
“Oh?” Bethany smiled and looked down at the dirty trash bag Coney had clutched tightly in her fingers. “Let’s take a look, shall we?”
Coney nodded and together, they stepped over to the cutting table. Coney began pulling out articles of clothing – several t-shirts, three hoodies, a pair of gloves, two pairs of jeans, one pair of child’s size Mary Janes and one really thick jacket, the puffy fiber fill spilling out from several tears in big white cotton balls.
Bethany’s stomach dropped. Where did Coney get all of these clothes?