The woman in the red dress was holding some large yellow flowers to her face. Behind her, there were lots more flowers – big flowers, small flowers, flowers of every possible colour.
I was very pleased I’d got up early to see Nice’s famous flower market. It was beautiful, and it helped me to forget that I wasn’t going to have a nice day. Or a nice ten days.
Grant Cooper! Grant Cooper! I couldn’t believe I was going to work with that man for ten days. It was going to be horrible. But I wouldn’t think about it until I had to.
And here, in the market, I could almost forget. There was colour all around me – not just the fl owers, but also the people buying them in their summer clothes.
Even the buildings behind the market were colourful – red and orange with blue windows. What a lovely picture it would make, if I only had my paints with me. But I did have a pencil somewhere. I could do a quick drawing.
I still had a few minutes before I had to leave for the airport. I found the pencil in the bottom of my shoulder bag, together with an old letter. Soon my pencil was moving quickly over the back of the letter as I began to draw the woman in the red dress. She was smelling some red flowers now, and her hair was very blonde in the sunshine. As I drew what I saw, I quickly forgot about everything else. The woman buying the flowers obviously knew the flower seller. They were talking and laughing together, and I had lots of time to work on my picture.
I don’t know how long I stood there. I only know that the next time I looked at my watch, it was nine o’clock. Nine o’clock! I only had thirty minutes to get to the airport. Oh no, I was going to be late. Again. But before I could put the pencil and paper back into my bag, I felt something soft against my legs. It was a small brown dog, and he was on his own. ‘Hello, boy,’ I said. ‘Are you lost?’
The dog seemed to smile up at me, and I reached out to touch it. The dog smiled again, and then…it bit me! I screamed and jumped quickly back from the dog.
Too quickly. There was a very loud crash behind me.
‘Mademoiselle!’ shouted an angry voice.
I turned round to see flowers all over the ground. ‘I’m sorry,’ I said. ‘That dog – it bit me!’
‘What dog?’ asked the angry flower seller.
‘Well, that one,’ I said, but when I looked down, the dog had disappeared. ‘It was here a minute ago,’ I said, turning to look. Unfortunately, I turned so quickly that my shoulder bag flew through the air and crashed into some more flowers.
‘Mademoiselle!’ shouted the flower seller again.
‘I’m sorry,’ I started to say, but then I noticed that things were about to get even worse. A river of dirty water from the flowers was moving very quickly towards the blonde woman’s expensive white summer shoes.
‘Madame!’ I shouted, but it was too late.
‘My shoes!’ cried the blonde woman.
‘My flowers!’ cried the flower seller.