Here is part two (mostly for my mom). For part one go here I won't be posting tomorrow as I am going to Pilgrim's Place! I am super excited! Hopefully I'll have a "goods" post this weekend! Have a lovely Thursday!
Three weeks. I spent every night for three weeks at that stupid thrift store. I got there at the same time and stayed until they closed. I was always the last person in the store, hoping for another glimpse of her. But she never came.
The first week had been fine. I assumed she had just had a busy week and hadn’t had time to come in. She had said she came after work, so maybe she was so busy with work that she just couldn’t come in. She would come the next week.
But she didn’t. By that Sunday night I was beginning to wonder if maybe I’d made her up. Maybe I was actually crazy and she didn’t even exist. I was convinced of it. She had been a figment of my imagination. No one could be that beautiful and be in Goodwill. She was fake. And yet I kept going back.
The third week I determined that she had been real. I’d felt her hand. Imaginary hands could not be that warm and real. Unfortuately my deciding she was real did not bring her back. So I began to panic. What if she had died? What if she had been hit by a bus and had to be hospitalized for months, and when she did finally come to, her memory would be wonky and she wouldn’t even remember me, or that she had ever been to a thrift store in her life? I needed to stop watching British Teen Dramas.
I knew I had to give up. I knew it was incredibly dumb to wait around for some girl I’d met only once. But I couldn’t. Many times I’d almost not gone, but a voice in my head pushed me in the direction of the thrift store. It told me that maybe tonight was the night, maybe she’d show up again. And with every passing night that she didn’t show up the voice would pat me on the back and tell me it was okay, maybe tomorrow.
I had found an old beaten up guitar. The neck was badly damaged and warped, and the strings were nearly untune-able, but there was something about it that made me want to buy and fix the poor thing. I strummed a chord and tweaked a string, fixated on making it sound right.
“Don’t you have some place to be?”
I jumped clashing the notes. An older African-American lady stood with her hands on her blue aproned hips. Her head was cocked to the side as she chewed blue bubble gum rather loudly. Her right foot tapped the linoleum in annoyance.
“Excuse me?” I asked annoyed with her.
“You come in here every night. Don’t you got somewhere else to be? Like with a girlfriend or somebody. You can’t keep comin’ ‘round here boy.” Her head cock had turned into a full blown head bob, which despite my annoyance with her, made me want to laugh.
“I’m sorry. I’m looking for someone who was supposed to be here.” I offered her my most charming smile which didn’t seem to do anything.
“Well I don’t know who waits for someone in a Goodwill, but you gotta stop coming here. You’re starting to creep us all out boy.” She walked away pushing her rack of clothes and shaking her head. I looked down that the guitar. She was right. I had to stop this, it was getting ridiculous. I sighed and shook my head looking down at the instrument in my hand. I walked to the register handing the frizzy haired teenager the guitar. She muttered something about my finally making a purchase. I paid the girl took my new aquisition and walked out the door.
The winter frost bit my face and I breathed it in deep. It would be okay. Maybe we weren’t meant to know one another. Maybe she was actually a nutcase and I was lucky to be rid of her. I knew these were all lies, but I let the voice in my head say them anyway. The sharp scent of cigarette smoke wafted my way as I prepared to go to my car. I heard a sudden sob coming in the direction of the cigarette. And there she was leaning against the building, legs crossed. Clothed in the same hat, coat, mittens and boots. Yellow gingham peeked from beneath the coat and her legs were now turned grey. A half burned cigarette was propped between her two fingers and she looked down at the ground, her perpetual smile softly faded. Her brow was knit and a lone tear slid down her cheek.
“Nan?” I asked in half disbelife. She looked up at me and her smile was instantly back.
“Ned! It’s good to see you.” She wiped away the tear only to let another fall. It was my turn to knit my brow. She looked at her cigarette and then to me.
“I only smoke when I’m stressed. And even then I don’t actually smoke much. I just let it burn. The smell clears my head I guess.” She said as if nothing was wrong. I looked at the open pack of cigarettes she had in her hand. There was one left in the box.
“How many have you let burn this week?” I asked.
“It’s Tuesday.” I pointed out and she grinned an embarrased grin. I couldn’t help but smile. She dropped the fag and stepped on the remaining embers.
“Let’s go.” She said walking towards me. I was shocked and stunned as she linked her arm in mine looking around the parking lot.
“Where?” I asked too dumbfounded by her proposal to appreciate it.
“I don’t care. Somewhere. Somewhere that’s not here. Somewhere with food preferably.” she continued to scan the parking lot as she spoke. A soft misting of snow began to fall on us as I stood next to the girl of my dreams. A flake fell on her nose and she crossed her eyes to see it. I laughed. And then it hit me that I had to actually take this girl somewhere. In the three weeks I’d spent planning what to say to her next I’d never planned past the confines of the thrift store. I never thought I’d get that far. But here I was with her, the girl, and she wanted me to take her somewhere. And I had no idea where to take her. I looked up at her soft features wondering where a girl like her would want to go. Her gaze was still fixed on the parking lot and she gave me no indication of where she wanted to go.
“Well what are you in the mood for?” I asked hoping she’d do my job for me. But she shrugged.
“Food in general sounds good. I’m open. Somewhere not too loud either. I can’t take much sound right now.” She began to head in the direction of my car and I followed only because we were linked. I was still too shocked to really think straight. The wind kicked up blowing the light snow around us. Her soft curls blew in my face. They smelled like raspberries. Could she really be real? Yes she could, and she was.
We arrived at my car and I opened the door for her. She smiled, seeming genuinly shocked by my act.
“Why thank you!” She said gliding into my torn up leather seat. I smiled shutting the door behind her. I put my purchase in the trunk of my car slowly, trying to buy some time and think of a place to take her. Still thinking I flopped into the seat of my car when suddenly something occured to me.
“Hey how did you know this was my car?” I asked her. She grinned and chuckled to herself.
“Only certain people driver certain types of cars. I simply looked for your type and headed towards it and you followed so I assumed I was right. It’s very simple science.” She smiled as I started the engine. I smiled back.
“You’re kind of weird, y’know. In a good way.” I said not realizing the words that were coming out of my mouth. But she just laughed, and again a million stars burst.
“I know! But I’m glad you like that. Hey let’s go to the dive-y-est place we can find!” She said quickly and emphatically. I smiled.
“You want a dive? I can give you a dive.” My heart pounded in my ears as I sat there admiring her whole demeanor, and thankful for the suggestion. She smiled back at me, and I had a feeling she was watching much closer than I knew.
“I like you Ned. You have a spark of life. Not very many people have that anymore.” She looked a little sad as she finished speaking, but continued to smile. And then suddenly she leaned up and kissed my cheek.
“Thanks for finding me.” She said softly. I temporarily lost my mind. And I knew I was in love with her.