Chapter One

I walked into Priss, my shoes clattering against the peach marble. It was such a familiar sound, but the circumstances were completely alien. Before, so many times before I had entered a customer, today I was married and never had to worry about money. But Char left me, left me for...I can't even say her name. Anyway I would come to Priss for the fine perfume and the pearls but now I was here to apply for a job.

I made my way to Customer Service- they knew me well; they would help me find a job. I straightened my back and lifted my chin. Nothing could bring me down- not even...

At the customer service desk, a puffy old woman sat with a telephone pressed to the side of her head and a newspaper on her desk. She was smoking a cigarette and the stench was revolting. The newspaper was open to the society column. The headline...was embarrassing, to say the least.

"Yes, Vernadette, I seen, it's all over the column! Can you believe that Prince Charming left her! I'm sure your daughter has a chance..."

The telephone dropped out of the lady's hand. She stared at me with wide eyes and trembled. She disappeared behind her desk for a moment and emerged to place the phone on its anchor. She stood and said to me, "The staff of Priss welcomes you, Madame Princess. Won't you please take a seat? I'm terribly sorry that I didn't notice you at first, I was tied up."

I settled myself into a plush white club chair and folded my hands in my lap, "Yes please Ms. ...err..." I searched for a nameplate and on her desk was a crystal prism that read Fanne, "Ms. Fanne"

The woman rang a bell and extinguished her cigarette in a cut glass ashtray, "Oh please call me Fanny, everybody else does. So how can I help you, Madame?"

A slight and swarthy man delivered a tray of coffee and cakes and, before I could fully appreciate him, left. Fanny poured two generous cups of coffee into pink porcelain and laced it with sugar and cream. I accepted the offered drink and sipped the silky liquid, the warmth dispelling the tightness of my throat.

"Fanny, I was wondering if you could give me some direction. You see, as you seem to know, the Prince and I have separated and now, now I need a job." Fanny opened her lined mouth and I held up my hand, "I've always adored Priss and I was wondering if there is a job opening. Do you know who I should talk to?"

The woman hesitated over her drink then asked, "Well, what are you good at?"

I didn't expect such a question. I hemmed and hawed until I was able to mutter, "...err...skin care and beauty products?"

Fanny went back to her desk and brought back a binder. She flipped through it, mumbling to herself before crying out, "Eureka! That's right... Atikla was getting married. Yes, Madame, we have an opening."

I asked to see and Fanny passed the opened binder to me, on the head of the paper were two simple words, floor girl.

In what seemed to be relief, Fanny laughed, "That means you'll be working with customers, helping them find the perfect shade of foundation, the rosiest rouge and killer lipstick. Now if you are serious about the job, fill out this application- the deadline is tomorrow. Come back here and I'll talk to Prsaea, she's the head of cosmetics."

She gave me a thin pink folder and suggested I go to the in-store restaurant (try the grilled platter, its delish!") I drained my coffee cup and instead went to my favorite French bakery and cafe.