There were lots of good arguments to be made for staying home that day. The snow, which was coming down in spades, should have made a good enough detriment. The slippery roads should perhaps have been taken into account. Her none-so-healthy bank account should probably have served as sufficient reminder.
But the heart wants what it wants. Or at least, these are the words she told herself as she slip-slid-parked the car in the mostly empty parking lot, pulled up her hood and shuffled through the sidewalk slush and into the bookstore.
Tired of being home alone, she had decided to drive to a place where she could be not-home and alone. But not-home and alone was vastly preferable when you had a vast room full of books to keep you company.
She nodded a hello to the cashier before diving into the shelves. She was sliding her fingers along the spines of the ‘old and interesting’ shelf, fingers skimming along like a pianist sitting down to an old and well-tuned instrument, when she heard the voice.
It was muffled, as though it had come from a few aisles away, but she’d heard the voice enough times to recognize it anywhere. It was, as she had come to think of him, the cute guy from the bookstore. Not that she objected to cute guys, exactly. She more or less considered them a foreign species. One that she was ill-equipped to communicate with. And this one, most unfortunately, had invaded her bookstore.
Why couldn’t it have been the grocery store? Or the gas station?
After all, she could live without groceries. And one did not require any verbal communication to get gas. But no… it had to be her bookstore.
She could no longer roam the bookstore freely, now. No. She would come around corners only to almost-but-not-quite bump into him. Him and that blue-eyed gaze. And he would smile, as she stumbled through some idiotic apology. Not that he could help having blue eyes, she supposed. But did they have to be so very blue?
And when she was not almost-but-not-quite bumping into him, she was thinking about it, which very much succeeded in preventing her from thinking about books, which was what she had come to the bookstore to do.
Thinking about books is, in fact, what one is supposed to do at a bookstore, she thought sternly, gripping an old cookbook perhaps a bit more tightly than was warranted. Last week, after another almost-but-not-quite-bump, she had accidentally ended up purchasing an algebra textbook. She had no idea how it had ended up in her bag, but she’d stammered some sort of excuse about it being for ‘the wrong class’ as she’d returned it to the cashier a few days later.
Algebra, indeed. She scowled at the mostly innocent cookbook.
Trips to bookstores were for getting lost in fiction, for forgetting about ones’ problems and immersing oneself in foreign worlds of words. Not for ….. Well, not for whatever happened when she was around cute guys, which tended to be a lot of awkwardness and not much else.
She was still giving the undeserving cookbook a death stare when someone speaking to her broke her train of thought.
“Hello,” said the familiar voice.
She looked up. Blue eyes. Damn blue eyes.
“Hi,” she said.
“Cook much?” he asked.
“Well, no not really, I guess….” Her voice trailed off.
“Just the way you were looking at that cookbook….” He said. “Like it had murdered your uncle or something.”
“Oh…. My Uncle,” she said. “I don’t suppose I’d mind if it had murdered my Uncle. I don’t like him very much…. Or at least, one of them, I don’t. The other one is perfectly nice.”
She was babbling. She realized this and forced her mouth to shut, at least temporarily. And when she looked up, she noticed that he was smiling. He had, she noted, a particularly appealing smile.
“I was hoping you’d be here today,” he said.
“Well, yeah,” he said. “It kind of brightens up my day whenever I see you here and I was hoping….well. I don’t know.”
She didn’t know either, and a silence, a not totally uncomfortable one, flopped between them for a few moments.
“You know,” he said. “I see you here all the time and I don’t even know your name.”
“My name?” she asked.
“Yes, your name,” he smiled again. “You know, that thing that people call you…. Usually some combination of vowels and consonants.”
“Sophie,” she said. “My name is Sophie.”
“Nice name,” he said. “I’m Matt.”
Matt, she thought. It beat blue-eyes, as far as names went.
There were lots of good reasons to stay home that day, she thought, as she smiled back at him. But the heart wants what it wants.
Writing Prompt: Shop, shyness, thrill.