8 Maids a-Milking


Marguerite had met Joshua 68 days, 12 hours and 37 minutes previously at the Community-Hall Ball. Marguerite had been wearing a silver dress with blue heels and a fetching fascinator in her hair. Joshua had been wearing a blue suit with grey shoes and the very tiniest amount of hair gel. Their eyes had met across the buffet table. He had complimented her on her hair. She had smiled and thanked him. They had exchanged names.
Joshua had been too shy to ask Marguerite to dance. He’d watched as she spent the night dancing with other men. First with Michael (black suit, white shirt – unimaginative) then Simon (brown suit, orange shirt – very 70s) then David (blue suit, blue shirt – too monochromatic). After that came a succession of Shauns (various spellings but oddly enough each one wearing a blue pinstripe suit with a black shirt). Joshua had been downcast by his inability to invite a pretty lady to dance so he had mustered up the courage to ask her back to his place to see his extensive collection of Star Wars memorabilia. Much to his surprise, she had said yes.
For some reason Marguerite had never gone home after that first night, choosing instead to move in. Each morning she was up early to deliver golden cans to various houses at the wealthy end of town. Joshua knew when it was time for her to leave because he could hear the jingling of the harness as Fluffy drew the cart up to the door. He’d never quite managed to persuade Marguerite to stay a little longer. As soon as she heard the bells she was kissing him goodbye. Then she was gone.
This morning Joshua was planning a surprise for Marguerite when she and Fluffy had finished their rounds. As soon as she’d left he was out of bed, scrubbing the floor and polishing the windows. He’d bought a kilogram of steak which he cut up and put in a small bowl on the floor. (That was for Fluffy.) Then he’d prepared Marguerite’s breakfast (toasted bagel, one tablespoon of lite cream cheese, one tablespoon of no-sugar-added strawberry jam and a decaf-trim-milk-cappuccino-with-a-sprinkling-of-chocolate) carfeully and laid it out on the table. Finally he’d added a vase of tulips and a small box. Inside the small box was a 2-carat diamond engagment ring. Joshua was planning to ask Marguerite to marry him.

He was hoping she wouldn’t make him wait until the wedding night to get lucky.


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