The Daffodil Community Library has been in Lavenderville way before Jasmine was born. The old building is located near the intersection of Ivy Avenue and Nosegay Street, where Jasmine sometimes passes by during her jogs. The library is run by the Servers and they’d always be supportive when she published a new novel. They’d purchase her books in quantities and use them to attract more visitors and readers for the library. A win-win for all. That’s why Jasmine became popular in the neighbourhood.
She jogs past the tall maroon gates of the library and sees a red BMW parked among the cars. The licence plate number. The car is Violets. Jasmine gets inside the library.
“Jasmine Floral! It’s so amazing to see you,” A brunette at the entrance says and approaches her with open arms, they hug.
“Mbali, darling. How are you?”
“I’m great. Couldn’t be any more better,” says Mbali Servers. “We no longer see you nowadays where have you been?”
“I’ve been at home. Woking on a new book,” Jasmine tells her.
“You have no idea how amazing I feel to hear you say that, darling,” Mbali says, imagines how flooded the library will be once the amazing book is published. It’s only with her that Jasmine uses the word darling and she knows Mbali uses it on everyone, including men she interacts with. Everyone is darling. “What would you like to read this morning?” Mbali asks, but doesn’t give Jasmine a chance to answer. “Did you know that Stephen King has a new book? You know how we do, we got it over there,” she points at the shelf. “I forgot what’s it called but it’s amazing,” she says.
Another word she likes to abuse: amazing. It’s as though she doesn’t know any other word which has the same meaning as amazing. If something is great then to her it’s amazing, if it’s decent then it’s still amazing. If it’s bad then she’d rarely say it’s bad; not amazing is what she’d call it.
“Tim Gardner also has a brand new novel out, darling and God! It’s so amazing.”
“What is it called?” Jasmine asks.
“I don’t know. But it’s amazing, you should read it.”
Jasmine cringes in a smile. Mbali Servers. That’s one person Jasmine knows will never change. She knows all the famous authors but barely remembers the titles of their books. She’s the type that would rather hear someone talk about the story of a novel instead of actually picking up the book and read it herself. She’d once complimented Jasmine’s novel Death She Wrote after it was bought and stocked to the library. “Oh, thank you, Mbali. Which character did you like the most?” Jasmine asked.
But Mbali laughed at the question before replying:”I liked every character, darling.”
Unlike his wife, Christopher Servers read beyond the the cover pages of some books in the library.
“I’m afraid I didn’t come here to read,” Jasmine whispers. “I’m actually here to see someone.” She looks around. “There she is. Excuse me.”
The library is as mute as empty. Books and/or laptops on every table the entire venue is occupied. Jasmine sees the new Tim Gardner novel in one guy’s hand, new because she has never seen a Tim Gardner novel under the title: The Shooter. Such a short title yet Mbali forgot it.
“I didn’t know you were into books,” Jasmine whispers.
Violet turns around and sees her. “Hey, Jas. How’s it going?”
“I was just out for a morning jog. Then I saw your car parked outside, thought I should come in and say hi.”
“That’s very nice of you. I was planning to come over and see you later,” Violet says.
“That would be wonderful. Sorry to disturb your reading. I know I said I’ll return the money back to you but I think it’s best if I don’t.”
“The money you gave me for Rose’s debt,” Jasmine says, nearby readers begin to look at them. Mbali appears and joins the two women. “Darlings. Please keep it down, or step outside if you want to talk,” she whispers in a tough smile.
“Sorry,” Jasmine whispers back. She keeps her tone lower now, faces Violet to tell her: “I said I’ll return the money to you but not anymore. I think it’s right we pay off the debt.”
“But Rose is dead.”
“I know, but paying the debt seems appropriate, don’t you think? I need you to be there when I pay the debt so you wouldn’t think I’m keeping the money for myself. You’ll soon see why I’m doing this,” says Jasmine. Violet, still doubtful, agrees.
Mbali escorts Jasmine out of the library. “Sorry for the noise,” Jasmine says when they’re outside
“Don’t worry, darling. It was so amazing for you to come. Hope to see again next time.” Mbali’s last words to her for the day.
Jasmine resumes her jog out of the library gates, unto the streets where her mind drifts away to the possible next scenes of her ensuing novel. No matter how bad it might be Mbali will still call it amazing. Jasmine smiles at the thought. She planned to have brown beans tonight for dinner however, she finds it unable to jog past one of Jay’s butchery stores in the corner.
This is the first store that he opened, then a boom of branches to other places.
Jasmine jogs inside, finds the man himself handing a black plastic to a customer; this sallow skinned woman who greets Jasmine on her way out.
“Jasmine. How you doing?” Jay asks.
“I’d be lying if I said I’m good. Can I have some liver?”
She looks at the liver sizes and prices displayed on a board behind Jay. “The R50 piece would be nice, thank you.”
“Coming right up,” Jay puts on his bloody plastic gloves, walks at the back and digs his hand inside a deep freezer. He pulls out the maroon meat and places it on a measure machine, slices it until it scales the size of fifty Rands.
“Congratulations on the new butchery out of town,” Jasmine says.
“Thank you. Who told you about that?”
“Your wife Susan, we were with her last night. How is she by the way?”
“She’s okay, I guess. She’s still shocked by Rose’s suicide,” Jay says, wraps the liver in a plastic.
“Indeed it is very shocking. And saddening too.”
“It is only saddening to you, Jasmine,” Jay says. “But at the same time I’m not all too glad about this. It is what it is, she’s dead.”
Jasmine nearly tells him that’s a very rude thing to say until she holds back the words, until she remembers the bad blood between Jay and Rose and how they never saw each other in the eye. She remembers It was precisely two nights ago on his birthday when Rose chucked wine at his face, in front of all those many people, in his own house.
“I know this might sound rather weird, especially now considering all that has happened, but I’d like to apologise on behalf of Rose. All that she did to you,” Jasmine says.
Jay’s chuckle holds her appalled. “You right it does sound weird. Apologising for someone else’s faults. Weird and unexpected. I think Susan was right about you, Jasmine. You are a good person. I just don’t know how you got yourself mixed up with vile people like Rose. It’s too late to apologise for her, though. She’s on her way to hell right now. Or maybe she’s already burning in there.”
“Jay!” Jasmine snaps. “Never speak ill of the dead. No matter how much of an enemy they were to you.”
“Just because Rose is dead that doesn’t mean my feelings towards her will change. I’m sorry,” Jay says.
“Excuse me, Jay but you too was not innocent in all of this. I know all about your quarrel with Rose. Anyways, I’m so sorry, I really am. Especially at the way she humiliated you at your birthday party. It was so uncalled for.”
“Whatever. I just wish Susan never invited her. And thank God that was the last time I saw her. Only He knows what would’ve happened if I saw her again,” Jay says. “There’s a customer behind you,” he says again.
Jasmine steps to the side, giving space for this long-dreads guy to make his purchase.
“Not everyone is as kind hearted as you are, Jasmine. Remember that,” says Jay. “Enjoy your day. And your meat.”