“The rack says $10.99!” shouted a customer, thrusting a pile of towels at the girl operating customer service. I really needed to fire her. She was a brat.

“I’m so sorry,” she said in a mock apologetic tone, “But these towels are clearly $16.99.”

My heels click clacked along the tile through the home goods section. I called out the girl’s name in a stern, authoritative voice.


She looked towards me, her eyebrows jumping up her forehead like startled crickets. She was a little goblin of a girl, with maroon colored hair and wide nostrils that caused her to sniffle constantly. She knew she was in trouble, but didn’t allow any worry to show on her face.

“The customer is always right,” I told her, going behind the counter and stepping in front of her at the register.  She huffed. After ringing up the woman’s towels at the price I knew they had mistakenly been displayed as, I turned to Jane and addressed her firmly.

“This kind of conduct is unacceptable. I have given you two fair warnings now. One more slip-up and you can find a job somewhere else. I will not have customers treated this way in my store.” With Jane put in her place, I strode briskly back to my office to resume review of the department store’s latest marketing strategies.

For all my life I had known exactly how to handle any situation. I was good at thinking on my feet and worked well with people. This allowed me to acquire a good position managing a local department store. I could soothe any angry customer and put straight product-price mix ups. It paid well enough and allowed me flexible hours. Life was pretty fine: I had a good job that put food on the table, a nice little cottage in a neighborhood settled between sprawling old wealth homes, and a cat named Corky that was happy to curl up on my lap in the evenings. But something was missing.

It’s not hard to define. As I made money and lived a …satisfying… life, my friends were settling down and thinking about things like marriage and children. I avoided those thoughts.

It wasn’t like I had always been a loner; I had dated plenty of guys in college and gone steady a couple times. But I had never found that fairytale kind of love I wanted to believe existed somewhere.

Every day was simple routine. Like the well-oiled wheels of a freight train, I went round and round on the same track 24/7. I didn’t mind and I didn’t complain because I had never known that there was more.

The End

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