Folding my fingers tighter around the bills in my pocket kept them off the class case before me. I refused to act like a tween-aged groupie, regardless of the irresistible incentive was the best one yet to resist.
Except this time, I wasn’t resisting. I stood patiently to the side in the aisle, waiting for the sales rep to finish selecting a Nintendo Wii game from behind the glass for another customer. My eyes were glued to the games for the Nintendo DS, the one with a cheerful smiling character on front and a gulp-worthy price tag for this cash-strapped University student.
I could rework my student budget, but the idea of such a headache almost made me sneeze. Graduation was six weeks away and money wasn’t necessarily a problem…just my hankering for digital delights within the past year.
Unfortunately, I’d already spent my game money, so the vending machine allotment would be relocated for this splurge. A silly grin registered on my face. Such sacrifice would be worth it.
Sacrifice. I could live without soda and gum for a month, at least for this game. My ears were arrested by the sound of metal banging punctuated by frantic scolding.
Reluctantly my eyes slid sideways to see what the fuss was about. Baby-blue-duck eyes stared straight at me from beneath a shaggy head of lovely golden curls too thick for such a small face. I squinted at the toddler, a sympathetic smile for the young mother trying to take the drumming instrument from the little hands—her cellphone.
I winced, turning back to the game case, as fractions of their conversation floated over me, now that their presence had registered in my consciousness. I still saw the plastic case shrouding the coveted game chip and my fingers were itching to start playing already.
Trying not to tap my foot was hard, so I snuck another glance over at Mommy and Toddler. The saleswoman, a grandmotherly lady, with a silvery braid over one shoulder was smiling as she handed over a colorful case. I was almost jealous, the price tag of that title was twice of the one I was currently dying for.
I told myself, silently, shifting to admire the gray and white braid, wondering if my hair would do that when I was older…or if I’d just dye it for the sake of vanity.
Vanity. I would probably pull out my first gray hair.
Snatches of conversation floated by.
“…do you need to walk me to the counter for this?”
“Oh no, you’re fine. I don’t care as long as you pay for it.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to make you lose your job or anything, because I know…”
“…it’s fine. Enjoy!...”
The Mommy plus Toddler duo is finally leaving. My victory cheer is silent and suppressed within my throat as I finally spoke.
“Hi, excuse me…can I get this game right here?” I pointed—without touching the glass—towards the happy plastic case.
The lady turned, her smile dimmed the faintest touch of a flicker as she wordlessly moved over the three steps from the Wii section to the DS game case. The requested item was retrieved and as I subconsciously reached out for it, the case was held out of reach.
Surprised, I followed lady and game to the checkout counter, waiting my turn in line behind four others. The game was passed over someone’s head to the clerk behind the counter and I was pointed out with a jerk of a head, punctuated with a flip of her silver braid.
“Thanks?” I mumbled, half-heartedly as she waltzed away, my happy bubble now splattered on reality.
By the time the checkout had finished, I’d cycled through every possible scenario in my head and rechecked my temper.
It still simmered.
Climbing in the car, I tossed the plastic bag on the seat and tried not to slam the car door. Turning the visor down, I stared at my reflection in the mirror.
Olive skin. Chocolate eyes. Weird eyebrows.
I flipped the mirror shut and paused as the diamond on my finger glittered in the fading sun.
Fiancé. A smirk registered. The joke was on her. I’d let it go, chalking it up to another slice of life.
Flipping the Cellphone open, I jabbed the speed-dial. “Hey babe…it’s me. No…I just bought your game…case looks great. No wonder it took so long finish…I can’t wait to play it.”
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