He showed up while I was working and walked by me without saying a word. It was his way of torturing me and, in
some weird way, reminding me that even though he could have me whenever he pleased, I could never have him. I just stood there
for a few seconds, my spine tingling and my limbs aching. My knuckles turned white as I tightened my grip on the box of cat
toys and wall pegs I was holding.
I wanted to
follow him and engage in some sort of meaningless conversation, but my body insisted on taking me to its previously planned
destination: the cat aisle. Once there, I dropped the box on the floor and attempted to concentrate on cutting in product.
Normally, it was something I could do with ease, but all I could think about was the red t-shirt that he was wearing. Every
time I saw him, he was wearing it and sporting that fold line right down the middle of his chest. That red shirt and those
wrinkled jeans, I figured, were the only clothes in his wardrobe.
I rubbed my eyes, trying
to get the thought of him out of my mind. I had a job to do, but all I could do was imagine him coming over and talking to
me. I knelt down beside the box, taking out pegs and cat toys and staring at them. I looked at the wall that was already nearly
filled with toys and treats and wondered where my boss expected me to fit in anything else.
I was just
about to give up on the cat toys and ask for help when he turned down the aisle, walking toward me and dragging one of the
store’s ladders behind him. I tried to pretend like I didn’t notice him, but a smile grew on my face and all I
could do was keep my back to him and hope it went away before he got any closer. That smile always and only appeared when
he was around as though it were a sign that I was about to become Instant-Idiot.
I looked up
from the box and at him, noting that he had put on his glasses, and squeaked out a “Hi.” He sat down on the ladder
he had dragged over and took a drink of root beer. I couldn’t help but think that there was also vodka in that bottle,
like that time at the staff meeting when we got drunk while some dog food company twit told us that corn was digestible.
talking to me about how he had waxed his car earlier that day and while I was fascinated with everything that he could ever
possibly say, I wished he would go away. Even though I hoped he would come over and talk to me, I had forgotten that I always
became entirely self-conscious around him. There was no way I was going to get any work done with him sitting three feet away.
always here,” I commented. “Don’t you have a life?” I knew he had a life, but I was hoping that he
would catch the hint and leave. Instead, he answered that “No,” he did not have a life and went off rambling about
how he should get a girlfriend to fuck instead spending all of his free time at work. I guessed that he knew that would weaken
me even more. It was bad enough that he looked like a skinny Freddy Prinze Jr. He didn’t have to remind me that he was
up a remark about how it was his own fault that he wasn’t getting laid when there was – at least – one girl
who would willingly have sex with him. Then, I realized that the comment might be a little too blatant and about five seconds
too late. Instead, I just shrugged and stared at the wall of cat toys. I could feel him behind me, working out my task in
his head. It wasn’t long before he began rambling off instructions of where to move this or where to put that.
I snapped, throwing down a peg and turning to face him, “I know what I’m doing. I don’t need your help.”
He just smirked,
standing up and grabbing his bag. “Fine, I’ll just go be bored at home.” He took off his glasses and put
them in his back pocket. Then, he asked me for a hug goodbye.
I really wanted to hug him, but my head still shook out a “No.” He was close enough to smell. Fabric softener
and cigarette smoke was a scent that I always hoped for and never forgot. It was that smell that kept me coming back. He just
kept looking at me, his arms out, knowing that I was about to cave. I wanted to beat him at his tease, but couldn’t
resist. I slid my arms around him and breathed in.