Celebrating East African Writing!
By Jacinta Odindo
It wasn’t a typical day at the store – business was VERY slow. The customers kept on trickling in. They would walk in and look around raising our hopes of a possible sale then just turn around and leave. I tried to busy myself by talking to Stacey – she was a newbie like me but unlike myself, she, was here to occupy herself; I, was saving up for a new laptop.
“Hey Stace, sold anything yet?” I called out to her.
“Nope; No moula (money) made on my end today.”
“Well we don’t have to wait any longer 5 minutes to the end of the shift.”
“Five minutes? REALY?!” Stace had to look over to the wall clock to make sure I wasn’t pulling her leg. “WOW! I thought it was longer than that.” And with that she started packing up her stuff, winding down to go home.
I went to a nearby shelf and started straightening out some. My mind was far off thinking and calculating how much more money was needed for the laptop. A gentle tap on my shoulder sent me jumping ten feet into the air. It was so unexpected!
“Sorry, did I startle you?” A deep voice asked me. It sounded concerned as if he really cared.
I turned around to stare a broad chest covered in a sky blue muscle shirt. I let my eyes wander and admire what was in front of them. They slowly progressed up the well defined neck and up to the full set of pink lips. The structured nose followed and finally they rested upon the eyes. Those eyes… they were mesmerising – their colour matched that of his shirt and they were so deep that I could stare into them until the end of time. Ok, so maybe I was being a little too over dramatic but that was how captivating those eyes were.
“Hello?” He waved his hand in front of my face. I was in a daze; it felt as if an object of my imagination was standing in front of me – my own… Greek God. Yeah that was it; the only way to describe him – a Greek God. I slowly recovered only to realize my mouth was open in amazement – how EMBARASSING!
“Um… Hi! Can I help you will something?”
He chuckled – I think it was at my expression.
“Well I was looking for a book for my mum’s birthday. I hope I came to the right place.” He looked around nervously; it was as if the amount of books in the store had overwhelmed him.
“Well… you are looking for a book and you are at a bookstore. So put two and two together and you’ll realize that you are in the right place.” I pointed this fact out to him – my voice laced thick with sarcasm.
He laughed at the tone of my voice, but I was left shocked. I had NEVER been so upfront – or bold – with ANYONE!
“Nice one,” he smiled; his smile was so large that it reached his eyes and as I looked up at him I kept on hoping that all of this wasn’t some sort of dream. “Well I really don’t know what to get her so I was hoping I would get some help.” He looked into my eyes and the smart sarcastic phrase that had already been formulated in my head completely vanished. I was left stuttering.
“Um… Ah… Sure.” I smiled.
Had I just said what I thought I did?! Of all the things that I could have said I ended up with this one simple phrase? What happened to the confidence I had when we had began this conversation? There was something special about this boy, and for some strange reason I wanted to find out more about him.
As I helped my Greek God out, I embarked on a journey to try and find out what or who he really was. Was he an object of my imagination? What was the story behind those deep, sky blue eyes? I glanced at the clock and I realised that my five minutes were up but that didn’t matter. I was actually willing to stay overtime to help him out. It was too bad that I wouldn’t be getting paid for it though.
“Hi, I’m Joe. Joe Mastopas.” He extended his hand out to me. I took it with a questioning look on my face. Was there something wrong with this boy?
“Okay…” Was there something I was missing here? I crouched down by a shelf searching for more books to add on to the pile of choices.
“Ok? I was expecting a name. I realised that I forgot to introduce myself earlier on.”
“You mean when you nearly gave me a heart attack?” I heaved under my breath; but unlucky me he heard me.
“Mary, Mary Griffin.” I quickly said – trying to cover up my obvious blunder.
I soon realised that I was being too hostile with the guy. I actually needed to make a sale today and truthfully speaking I wasn’t getting any good marks in his books. I decided to calm down and actually be nice. Turns out that actually worked because before I knew it he was telling me his family history. Joe Mastopas – an American teenager with Italian parents. It turns out my “Greek God” was actually an Italian God.
An hour later, I led Joe to the cash register; we had actually chosen a couple of great books for his mother. As I handed him his paper bag, I realised that today was had been a great day. I had earned points with manager and hopefully would earn another raise. The icing on top of it all came when Joe took the bag from me and stared straight into my eyes.
“Thanks” he said in a husky voice.
He turned to leave but stopped dead in his tracks and turned around.
“I was wondering would you like to go out to lunch and maybe a movie tomorrow?” He was giving me time to answer but I guess what he saw in my eyes made him cut me off. “My treat; Look at it as a way of showing appreciation.” He quickly added.
Every cell in my body was screaming for me to say yes, and I badly wanted to… but the work rules clearly stated that employees weren’t allowed to fraternize with the store’s customers. (What was I thinking? This was not the time to be thinking about store rules and regulations! I was never one to follow rules anyway, so why start now?) I know that if it had been any other situation I would have willingly accepted the offer, but everyone’s eyes were on me and I could feel them burning holes in my back, and I didn’t want Joe – and the rest of them – to think that I was an “easy” girl. So I did what I thought was the right thing in the end. Instead of the earlier on intended phrase of – “Sure, I’d love to”, I ended up saying.
“I’d love to Joe, but it’s my job to help you out so you don’t need to repay me. Thanks for the offer though.” I quickly added “I hope your mum likes them” He looked confused and I pointed at the bag. He nodded.
As he turned to leave, I saw is eyes, they were huge saucers and when I looked into them, I felt like melting. I wanted to retract my earlier statement but I knew that I needed to be strong. I stood at the entrance of the store and watched him walk away, feeling my heart sink. I had lost every chance I had with Joe – or had I?
© Jacinta Odindo 2010
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