“I don’t know, I’m not really interested in dating anyone right now, you know?” I nod in agreement as I pick bags up off the floor and place them on the proper hooks. After placing them in neat, perfect order, with the Bell Hook’s logo displayed proudly, I stand up and face my co-worker, Camilla, with one of my hands leaning on the counter.
“I know, you’re young. You should enjoy your youth and freedom. I remember what it was like, even though I’m only 3 years older than you,” I say with a chuckle, “it’s nice being your own person and having fun.”
“Yes, thank you! I just don’t want to deal with it.” I watch her walk over to a stack of papers and shake them until they’re even. Her loose curls shake with every move, and the dim store lights still manage to make her light brown hair glimmer. Moving from head to toe like usual, I admire her tiny waist and curvy bottom. Her nails are always done, makeup always flawless, and her glasses frame her perfect face perfectly. She’s such a sweet girl that I could never be annoyed at the fact that most of the guys in our store like her, because if I’m being honest, what’s not to like?
“Boys are annoying anyway, the less time you have to spend with them the better.” I didn’t really mean that, or at least, I didn’t really believe it. I meant what I said about being young and needing your freedom, but I’d be lying if I said part of my advice didn’t stem from the minor fact that one particular boy was unabashedly chasing after her.
“Hey Camilla, hey Kate.” You walk over, glancing at me briefly with my hello, then shifting all focus back to her.
“When am I getting my game back, by the way?” You ask her this with a grin on your face, and then turn to me.
“She’s a thief, this one. Always taking my stuff.” You’re pointing your thumb at her while still looking at me and as I ignore the unpleasant feeling in my throat, I just give a chuckle and walk away.
“I only take what you give me,” is the last thing I hear her say before I move to my new destination. I make busy with emptying garbage cans and wiping down monitors as I pretend that your muffled flirting isn’t making me itch. I’m not jealous, I know I’m not, but I don’t know what else to make of my disappointment. Whenever she’s around, you can somehow only look her in the eyes, and glance at me occasionally if it relates to her. I decide that the source of my irritation is just you being a bad friend.
“Hey Kate, what’s up? I was wondering where you went.” I look up to see you leaning on my counter, your hazel eyes drilling into mine. Camila must’ve gone to the bathroom.
“Oh, I just decided to give you two love birds some space.” Pulling down my sweater to hide my less than tiny figure, I begin to deeply inhale. Shoving away thoughts of how you would obviously chose her over the mess that is me, I don’t meet your eyes as I put spider wraps into their bins.
“Listen…shut up, Kate! It’s not like that, okay?” You can’t even keep a serious face and I set the bin down in front of me. Leaning on it with folded arms, I tilt my head to the side and laugh.
“Why don’t you just ask her out?” You shrug and I give you the ‘oh please’ face.
“I’m working on it okay, these things take time.” A spider wrap falls onto the floor and as I come back from picking it up, I decide to keep looking busy. Putting the bin away, I grab a few business cards to straighten them out and dust off the holder.
“If you say so, Mike. The worst she can say is no.” I shrug like it’s nothing, but your eyes go comically wide.
“That’s a pretty big deal, Kate. Just getting shot down like that.” Looking at you I realize that I may be the one acting like a bad friend now. With a deep breath in, I try to tell you exactly what I think without revealing exactly how I feel.
“Listen, Mike. You’re young, you’re good looking, you’re smart, and any girl would be lucky to have you. You can’t let one girl cause you too much stress. Take it from an older woman, enjoy your youth and don’t let the little things get you down.” Hiding my face under the desk while pretending to reach for something, I pat my cheeks and feel how warm they’re becoming.
“Uh…you really think I’m good looking?” Shooting up, I roll my eyes and glare you, tossing a pen in your direction as you shield yourself and start to run away.
“Two years Kate, it’s only two years.” Your voice carries as you go back to your stand. A customer approaches you and while you’re distracted, I can’t help but admire how good a simple chain store security shirt manages to look on you. Whether it’s a size too small or just right, the way your shirt stretches with each move you make, and how your black pants seem to fit securely around your backside, while loosely clinging to your legs keeps my gaze on you longer than I’d like to admit.
“What was Mike just yelling about?” I whip my head to face Camilla as soon as she approaches, telling myself to act cool.
“Nothing,” I answer with a laugh, “just how much he loves you.” I’m not sure if you thought your crush was a secret, but ever since our manager jokingly mentioned it at an outing you didn’t attend, it’s pretty much a daily discussion among us cashiers. Camilla rolls her eyes and gives a smile, and I decide to change the subject as not to make her too uncomfortable.