Another tricky one, but we’re almost done these prompts and then it’s NaNoWriMo! … Hooray?
Beatrice’s mother had taught her that when dealing with clients to always give direct eye contact. It was polite, she said, and under the right circumstance and with the right customer could show your control. She had watched her mother do it when she was little know, when she was a scrap of a thing colouring in the corner while clients came in and sat across from her mother at the hard oak desk she stare at them straight in the eyes and sometimes they’d look away, giving her mother all the power. Sometimes they’d meet her head on, but Beatrice’s mother still won one way or the other. She was an expert at eye contact.
Beatrice however hated it. Whenever her mother would stare at her with her piercing brown eyes she’d shy away until her mother forced her to look at her. They’d have staring contests then, and have games of conversation where the first one to look away would lose (which was almost always Beatrice, the only reason she had won a handful of times was when a client came to an appointment early or when the phone rang). Beatrice used to have a trick where she’d stare at her mother’s thin eyebrows but her mother would snap her fingers, “Eye contact is key, it’s easy to tell if you’re faking it.”
Though the eyebrow trick didn’t work on her mother Beatrice still used it on other clients, though she could tell it wasn’t as successful. More often than not she did try to force herself to give her client’s direct eye contact, now that she was behind the desk of course, but it was still a challenge. More so now that Mrs. Roth was in front of her and there was an extra pair of eyes staring at Beatrice from each earlobe.
They were odd earrings, the same colour as Mrs. Roth’s eyes, a robin egg blue that one couldn’t help but envy. Beatrice felt her gaze pulled to each earlobe and had to force herself to look at the pair of eyes on Mrs. Roth’s face.
“And which relative’s funeral are we planning for today?” Beatrice said, looking down as she grabbed some papers in her desk drawer. She assumed it was a parent or sick uncle with how young Mrs. Roth was, not much older than herself.
“Oh not a relative,” Mrs. Roth tossed her hand like she was fanning away a bad smell and pulled a piece of red hair behind her ear so her third eye could be seen shining on her earlobe. “It’s for me.”
Beatrice stopped at that and looked at the woman. While these things did occur they weren’t common. She glanced at Mrs. Roth as she organized the papers she would give her. She didn’t appear sick, her skin was still flush and pink, eyes shining brightly (all pairs of them), but Beatrice knew better than most that sickness held its own disguises. Just ask her mother.
“I’m very organized you see,” Mrs. Roth continue, her heeled foot swinging as she rocked it. “And I have it all in my mind’s eye how I want it to look. If I die before my husband I want to make sure my visitation and funeral goes off with a hit. He’s horrible at planning things and colour schemes.”
Beatrice nodded and wrote down Mrs. Roth’s long list of what she wanted for her funeral (a small stringed quartet playing her favourite song My Sweet Lord by George Harrison, black trimmings on an redwood coffin, a dahlia arrangement on the coffin, lilies and roses were so overrated). And Beatrice listened to it all and gave as best eye contact as she could, but her gaze kept switching to each four eyes staring at her.
Well, at least I’m giving eye contact. Even if two of the eyes are fake. Beatrice thought.
When the manner was done, Mrs. Roth signed the contract Beatrice had written up and paid for her funeral in full. She was incredibly grateful for Beatrice’s help and attention to detail and Beatrice was happy to see her go. Her clients were never long with her, but they were steady and often recommended others to her services.
“Well, I’m sure I’ll see you very soon,” Mrs. Roth gave a smile and Beatrice froze as she swore the earring on her right ear winked at her as she left the funeral parlour.