Mrs Percival was in an unusually good mood. Since she had bought the only shop in the quaint Derbyshire village of Waddly Downs several years ago, she had become renowned for her vile moods. The newspaper delivery service was now defunct because every paperboy or girl had been sacked or had resigned in fear following one of her tirades. No shop staff had lasted much longer than a few months at most. The constant belittling and yelling drove most of them to new jobs or the dole queue. She only managed to attract customers due to lack of another option.
The reason for her oddly elated mood was the weather. Mrs Percival was the only person in Waddly Downs to be glad about the recent record breaking snow fall. What had started as a light dusting of snow a week or so ago, had become a chaos-inducing twelve inches. The initial excitement at fun days of sledging and snowball fights; the novelty of days free of work and school had worn off, as the misery and cold worked it’s way into their bones.
Mrs Percival, however, was loving it. She had never made so much money in a single week. Stock levels were low, so every time a delivery van triumphantly made it through the slush, she was guaranteed a full shop and an even fuller till.
Accordingly, she had hiked up the prices of the essentials, and some non-essentials for good measure. Bread was now £2.50 per loaf, with milk not far behind. People complained and huffed and puffed, but still put their hands in their pockets because there was little other option. Every night, as she cashed up, she rejoiced with the increase in takings. People were buying everything in sight, no matter what the price. Every night, as she drank her whisky nightcap, Mrs Percival prayed that this snow would never go away.
Poor Julie, who was the only person brave, or dumb, enough to work behind the counter in the shop, bore the brunt of the anger from customers. She felt a pang of pity as one old lady, whose shopping came to well over £5 for just a few necessities, peered at the little money in her purse, dismayed that there wasn’t enough. Looking from the bread to the milk, she decided to put the milk back on the shelves. Leaning over the counter, Julie whispered to her.
“It’s okay, I’ll let you off.”
The old lady looked thrilled as she huddled out of the shop, back into the never-ending blizzard.
Mrs Percival, despite her almost seventy years and , had eyes like a hawk and almost bionic hearing. Dashing over to Julie, she berated her in front of the full shop and fired her on the spot. Julie, who herself had three young children’s mouths to feed and no partner, pleaded with Mrs Percival to reconsider. Her pleas fell on deaf ears.
As a red faced and teary eyed Julie left the shop, she didn’t notice the huge icicle hanging precariously over the door. Neither did Mrs Percival, as she hurriedly locked up that night. That is, until it hit her straight between the eyes.
Though the snow had long gone, nobody went to her funeral.