“Oh no,” said the old lady.
Gasps emerged from the throughout the gallery. At the centre of the space, beside a platform, were several shards and tiny fragments of glittering dust. Until a few seconds earlier, the broken pieces had been the latest artwork by artist Babajide Oke.
“Oh no, oh no,” the old lady said again, her eyes beginning to glisten.
The shock seemed to freeze the attendees. Their eyes were trained on the fragments on the floor, as if their rapt attention could somehow restore the sculpture. After a few seconds of stunned silence, the gallery staff swung into action. One gallery assistant, a young woman, brought a chair for the old woman , who was, by this point visibly shaking. Another gallery assistant, a young man, acquired a broom and dust pan, and began sweeping up the shattered pieces.
“I’m ever so sorry,” the old woman said repeatedly as she dabbed her eyes.
The gallery manager knelt in front of her, gently squeezing her hand, “Don’t worry, this is why we have insurance.”
The old woman wept quietly as the staff began to usher the other attendees out of the gallery.
“Can we send for a car to take you home?” the gallery manager asked the old woman.
“No, I don’t want to be any more trouble,” she said tearfully. “And I don’t live far from here.”
After a short conversation, consisting of a few questions along with more reassurances, the manager escorted the woman and the last few attendees to the door of the gallery. The old woman walked out into the street and took a deep breath. She turned and checked the street, intending to cross to the other side.
“Let me give you a hand,” said a sharply dressed man as he offered the crook of his arm.
The old woman took his arm and the two crossed the street and walked together into the night. They walked for several minutes, wordlessly.
“So did you get it?” asked the old woman.
“Of course I did,” said the man tapping his briefcase with his index finger. “I do have the best teacher in the game.”
“Not bad for your first day in the field,” said the old woman, “Of course, I did do most of the heavy lifting with my distraction, but we might just make a thief of you yet.”
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