A Game of Hearts

Cupid could have picked any girl in the whole wide world. And he chose me.

Friday

So, whether or not I had approved, today has come with only one intention: to make my life even more miserable than it has been thus far.

Valentine’s Day. Probably one of the worst days to happen in my life. I don’t think it would be at all possible to feel more alone and embarrassed then I did right now. I can remember the care-free days in elementary school when this day was actually a joy when it came. The worst thing that could happen to you was that you didn’t get as many valentines as the classmate next to you or someone stole all your M&Ms. No one worried about having a boyfriend or girlfriend. Everything was so simple. But now? You can’t walk anywhere in public without seeing snogging couples in the streets, lovers holding hands walking down the sidewalk - lovey-dovey everywhere. All your taken friends completely ignore you and refuse to answer your phone calls with you asking them to leave their lovers for just a few measly hours to watch a movie with you. Preferably, not a chick flick. Cute love ads flood all over the internet, making even Google a hard place to go when you have to look up show times for the movie you are obviously going to have to watch alone tonight. It is nice to be in love and all, but for all of us who don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend, for all of us who are alone, it kinda hurts. Just a lot.

Waiting in line at the snack counter, trying to avoid looking at the couple waiting in front of me, I checked my phone again. Still nothing. I was secretly half-expecting one of my friends to answer back and ask to hang out or do something to make this depressing night better. And I was even more wishing that a sweet, attractive guy would randomly call and ask me out. That’s just how hopeless I was. I knew some guys in my class who were actually single. But they probably weren’t after tonight. And I didn’t want a one night thing, I was one of those old-fashioned girls who wanted the real deal. Too much to ask for, I guess. It might have been a more appropriate request centuries ago.

I scrolled through all the contacts I had in my phone as the line moved up. Still nada. I shoved the phone back in my pocket and began to sing “Independent Women” by Destiny’s Child to myself. The line in front of me disappeared.

“One large popcorn, please.” I asked more pleadingly than I liked.

“Hey, slow down there, no rush, cutie pie.” I placed the money down and noticed the guy behind the counter while he walked over to the popcorn.

He seemed like an average snacks dude that you would find in an average movie theater, but it was sort of odd to get that kind of response. Usually people who worked here just collected your money and asked “Is that all?” or maybe even “You want butter on that?” if they’re feeling nice. It just struck me initially as kinda odd. At first it was awkward, but I just shook it off, guessing that he might of felt just as single and alone as me and needed someone to talk to. I was more than willing to talk back. But then again, he didn’t look that desperate.

“No need to encourage a stomachache, is there?” He spoke again, looking over at me.

Watching him a little longer, he seemed somewhat different. For some reason my eyes remained on him. It took a split second to realize that I was basically checking him out at this point. He looked about nineteen or twenty, maybe a little older than me, but something seemed a little off. His eyes seemed to look older when I saw them, as if they had been through much more than his age revealed. And they were a weird blue color. His face, although, was the same face that looked like most guys I’ve seen.

“I hope you like a lot of butter.” he told me, handing me my popcorn and showing a modest smile. Strangely, I felt myself smiling too. Which I doubt I haven’t done all day until now. He also set a soda on the counter next to the popcorn.
   
“Thanks, but, um, I didn’t buy a soda.” I added. 

“It’s on the house.” He replied, his grin widening.
   
Okay, this guy was sorta freaking me out. I didn’t want to believe he poisoned the soda, but people don’t normally give you something for free without it not being a bomb that would explode once I took a drink. He didn’t look like the murderous type, nor the sexy spy type, but I wanted to trust him. Maybe he felt bad for me and thought a nice, cold beverage would help. Something about him was just off and I couldn’t quite figure it out.

“Thanks, I guess.” I said, picking up my snacks with some difficulty.

“You are very welcome.” Mr. Freaky answered back, with that same smile and old eyes. It wasn’t a sarcastic response, but one who seemed to come from a person very dedicated to their work at fetching treats and filling sodas. I almost felt like laughing, but walked to the movie instead, singing to myself the not-so-empowering words of single women.

As soon as I sat down, I wanted the movie to end. I felt like sitting at home crying was a better option for me. I tried so hard to focus on the movie, but I gave up in the first half hour. I felt the familiar clench of my heart and the swell in my chest of the tears that were on the way. The feelings leaked back into my heart like a reviving flame. My mind drifted. The more I dwelt on him, the worse I felt. But it was a slippery slope, and I was sliding down, head first. Feeling the tears hot in my eyes, I abruptly stood up and left the show. Although it wasn’t a romantic movie, it still didn’t keep my mind off him. Everything seemed to remind me of him now. Constantly thinking about him was a habit that I needed to break. Badly.

I trudged into the near empty theater lobby, threw out the popcorn and soda and walked out. I knew tonight would suck. Why I still decided to come to the movies phased me. I felt like I was acting like a baby, but I didn’t really care. I just wanted to cry. I walked along the plaza strip, away from the theater, pulling the jacket tighter around me. I sighed.

I walked into a little Mexican café that I’ve never been into before next to the theater. I didn’t want to go home yet. I found a table near the back, ordered a sweet tea from one of the waitresses and sat down. Burying my face in my arms, I cried my eyes out.

I didn’t know how long I cried, but it felt like hours. The waitress brought over my tea but didn’t bother me after that. I didn’t care how late I was out or how stupid I looked crying in the middle of a restaurant, I just bawled. I still wasn’t over this, and I doubted I would see the day that I did. He haunted me. From morning to night; and my heart didn’t want to let go, no matter how long I begged. It was one of the worst pains I’ve ever felt. Although the immediate shock of the end of my past relationship was over with, the enduring loss remained.

But after a while, my eyes started to get sore and the salty tears dried on my cheeks, as always. I took a deep breath and chugged down all of my tea. When I lifted my head off from my crossed arms, I noticed that the restaurant hadn’t closed and a few customers were seated inside. Nothing had changed. But I wanted to go home. Crying there might not be so uncomfortable. I rubbed my eyes and fishing around in my front pockets for some money.

I heard coins hit the table and I looked up.

Mr. Freaky.... Mr. Freaky?

Still wearing his movie theater uniform and a goofy smile, he had dropped some money on the table in front of me. What the heck?

“Do you mind?” he asked, gesturing to the chair in front of me. Why was he here?

“Um, no, go right ahead.” I mumbled, not wanting to be rude, but feeling very uneasy. If he wanted to chat or make a move on me, I really wasn’t in the mood. I was surprised at myself for letting a total stranger sit down with me and not being more nervous than I should have been.

As he carefully sat, I glanced around me and looked back at him. Nothing unusual going on, just a man who might want to kill me. No, customers, don’t protect me or anything. Just let me die here in the middle of a restaurant, no big deal.

“Am I in trouble or something?” I asked, not really sure what to say. I looked down at the money on the table, then back at him. I noticed his eyes again. I was scared of what he might say. I pushed the hair back behind my ear and folded my hands under the table.

“No, not at all. Trouble? You forgot your change from earlier.” the theater employee told me casually, eying the finished tea in front of me, unsuccessful at holding back laughter.

“Oh… thank you.” I managed to squeak out, once again glancing around. Um...

“You don’t mind me sitting here, do you?”

“Um, no.” Lie.

“May I ask why do you seem so disgusted by me?” I noted a hint of sincerity in his voice that made me meet his eyes once more. “Would you like me to leave?” He added, leaning forward in his chair a little bit, looking more closely at me. I don’t really know what to say.

“I’m not disgusted by you, I don’t even know you. It’s just a little...” I trailed off, trying to find the right word to say.

“Weird?” he finished for me. I didn’t say anything, but agreed mentally.

“It’s just, people don’t really follow someone just to give them a few cents in change. I mean, not like you would steal it or anything, but. Um, I just don’t think I can date anyone right now.” I started to rant, not really knowing what was coming out of my mouth.

“I had no intention of asking you for a date.”

“Oh.” Awkward again. It stayed quiet for a while. I didn’t meet his gaze.

“I apologize if I made you think that. I saw you and you looked like you needed someone to talk to. I’d love to talk to you if you don’t mind. That’s all.”

Well, that’s not what I expected. What’s this guy getting at?

“I’m a good listener, I promise.” He added. I really want to just go home. He is nice and all, but-

“And a girl like you shouldn’t be out so late alone.” He is just a tad bit strange and I want to-

“So what’s your name if you don’t mind me asking?” He was definitely something else.

I got nothing better to do I guess. I forgot about wanting to leave. If he had no intention of hitting on me, then I guess I didn’t mind staying.

“Sarah.” I told him. I cleared my throat and was able to loosen up in my chair. I tried to mirror his smile; it was so warm that it was difficult not to smile back. “What ‘bout you?”

“They call me Cupid.”

The End

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