Vicky thought about shopping the whole day at work. It was candles and feathers that she wanted — fat candles, thin candles, enough to fill a whole room. Concentrating on spreadsheets and costings was difficult, the data entry tedious and unexciting; Vicky’s mind kept slipping from the precision, emptiness and drudgery of numbers to the excitement of candles and flame, the firm suppleness of feathers.
Anticipation wasn’t Vicky’s alone. Each of the drudge-workers kept track of the time, could feel the day’s end approaching. Work slowed down, spreadsheets filled with increasing sluggishness; at five o’clock a ripple flowed through the workers — then they stood up from their cubicles, one after the other, in a muted, tired, mistimed wave; put on their coats, took up their bags, departed.
Vicky held her own bag and coat tight against the chill.
Candles were easy to find, being everywhere, in each shop. The feathers were the problem. At this last minute she only managed to find a feather duster which, she was assured, was made of genuine ostrich feathers. She ripped out a single feather and threw the rest into her bedroom cupboard.
The candles she arrayed around her bedroom, beacons of flame resting on the bookshelves and dresser. A short, fat, unlit candle remained on the nightstand. Beside it, the feather. But alone the feather seemed bland, a forgotten frippery. Vicky arranged the feather over her handcuffs, mixing dull colours and hard steel.
Vicky waited for the doorbell in her kitchen with a glass of merlot in hand.