Le Jour avant le Jour de St. Valentin

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
This story is not in french, I just felt like using a french title. It's a very rusty first draft that I hope to improve in the coming rereads.

Submitted: February 14, 2017

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Submitted: February 14, 2017

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It’s the day before Valentine's Day and I have absolutely no plans. I’m considering hiding away from society and reading a book for the day. That sounds like a good plan. If I go anywhere, I’ll just start to feel sad and lonely... I mean, if I have to see one more couple acting lovey-duby I will puke my guts out. Maybe some other vital organs too.

I’m considering any option that will make me seem not so pathetic as I work (I’m a grocer at my town’s local market ). At least I don’t have to work on that accursed day and sell people flowers and chocolates all night long knowing I won’t get any of it. And I do so adore chocolate. I’ll let my fellow employees think that I have plans with an actual living, breathing human and I won’t bother to correct them.

My attention goes back to the customer when I realize she asked me a question. She’s an older lady with almost completely gray hair and little bifocal glasses that tilt precariously on the edge of her nose. She’s studying me, waiting for a response. I just blink at her until my brain catches back up. I am such an idiot.

“I’m sorry. What did you say,” I ask in my little girl voice that only comes out when I’m talking to customers? It’s completely unintentional, but I've found that acting cute and innocent keeps customers from getting irritated or yelling at me like they sometimes do to the other employees. I’m the only checker that has never gotten a rude customer.

She smiles at me (works every time), “Can I get a bag of ice as well?”

“Oh, sure. No problem.” I punch in the code and finish checking her out, wishing her a happy Valentine's Day (yuck) before turning to the next customer. The next lady is young, maybe mid-twenties, and a regular. She comes in about once a week and almost always comes through my line. I smile and make small talk as I sack her few groceries. About half-way through, another customer steps into my line. I glance up to make eye contact and smile, but it instantly evaporates when I see who it is. I swivel my eyes back to the customer at hand and try to act normal as my brain acts anything but. A million and one thoughts go through my head. Stay calm. Be cool. It’s no big deal. Why’d he have to come through my line?! There’s three other lines, not to mention self-checkout. Why couldn’t he have used self-checkout?? Just ask him how his..training?..was. Ask him if he still works here. Keep it casual.

As my current customer walks away, I try to will her with my mind to come back. Unfortunately, my mind control powers are a bit rusty and I’m forced to face the inevitable. I take a deep breath and force myself to look Jay in the eye and smile.

Now Jay is...how to describe him? He’s Jay. About a head taller than me, dark brown hair that is usually all over the place(it’s shaved off now), chocolate brown eyes, and a serious expression on his face. He’s wearing basketball shorts and a black form-fitting shirt. He used to work as a stocker until he joined the army and left about nine months ago to go to some boot camp. I would’ve been much more surprised to see him if I hadn’t been told he was back by my friend Talia yesterday. I convinced myself that I would be cool when he came back and not act super awkward around him. I used to have a crush on him (in case that wasn’t obvious) back in the day. I haven’t thought about him in months and yet my body seems to remember him well. My heart is trying to break out of my chest and my stomach feels like it’s sifting sand around.

I say “hey” as his eyes meet mine for about half a second and then dive bomb for the ground; they stay there. My hey falls flat at the end and I try to think of those other things I was going to ask him. I come up empty. Good thing he only has a couple of items (even more reason for him to go through self-checkout) and I bag them as quickly as possible while trying to stop my hands from shaking. I feel like anything I say will just sound forced so I don’t say a thing which was probably the wrong thing to do because as the silence stretches on my faces just gets redder and redder. After an eternity, the receipt prints out and I have to decide which hand to hand him the receipt in. I decide my right so that I don’t have to chance switching it to my left and dropping it. I think I say “there you go”, but it could’ve been in my head, and I might’ve heard a thanks from his general direction, but it’s doubtful.

With each step he takes away from me, the pressure on my chest lessens until it’s almost non-existent. I take a deep breathe and let it out, feeling a small smile break-out on my face. We are so awkward. I break out of my thoughts when I notice that a man is standing there. He seems to have been there for a while because all his groceries are already out of his basket and ready for me to bag. The knowing smile he imparts on me gives me the feeling he’s been there to bear witness to our debacle. I feel a blush coming on, but try to keep my cool and ask him if he found everything alright. He assures me that he has and asks if I have any Valentine’s Day plans. Since I hate to flat out lie, I tell him the truth.

“Not at the moment, no.”

“Oh, well that’s too bad.” He gives me another smile, this time with a wink, and proceeds to gather his groceries and leave. I try not to think too hard about his innuendo, but find my thoughts drifting back to Jay without my consent.

Since I, thankfully, don’t have anymore customers at the moment, I grab some paper towels and spray with the intention of wiping down my station. However, this doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen since at that moment Jay appeared.

“Hey”, he said with a tentative smile but a determined look in his eye. He looked from the bag of chips in his hand to the register and then back at me who was still holding the paper towels and standing on the wrong side of the register. I quickly walked back around and scanned his chips.

“That all”, I forced out before my throat could close completely?

He paused for a second with his mouth open then said “yeah”. It sounded a little uncertain like maybe he felt like he forgot something else but didn’t know what it was and since my voice was currently out of service I couldn’t offer any suggestions. I handed him his chips and receipt but still didn’t say anything.

“Thanks”, he said after a moment. I just gave him a small nod and a half smile.

After he was out of sight, I emitted an audible sigh that turned into a dismayed groan.

“What’s wrong”, asked a voice that I immediately identified as my friend Talia’s? Talia was my good friend even if we never hung out outside of work. She must of sensed my distress because she looked concerned and slightly worried.

“Nothing it’s just…” I trailed off but she was too smart for her own good.

“Just Jay”, she asked knowingly. “I saw him walking away. He looked distracted.”

“I thought so too. It seemed like his mind was somewhere else.”

“Probably just adjusting to being back. Anyways, you can go on your break now. I’ll cover you.”

“Alright, thanks. You’re the best!”

Throughout my entire 15 minute break, I didn’t once think about anything except Jay. So much for not obsessing. He was acting so bizarre. I only remember him being confident and in charge when he was here. Of course there was the incident where he tripped on a chair walking into the break room... twice. Both times I was the only one in there and had to bite back my laughter because I didn’t want him to think I was laughing at him, even though I was. Most of the time though, he was super cool. He only seemed to lose that cool when he was near me. I used to think it was because I was so awkward that I made him awkward too, but today I wasn’t even that awkward until he avoided my gaze and didn’t say anything. He made me feel awkward this time.

I left the break room and turned the corner to go back to my register when I almost ran right into someone’s back. I stopped myself just before touching him, but the wind from my body alerted him to my presence.

“Sorry I did-”, I stopped talking when I realized it was Jay again. This time he had a toothbrush in his hand. That must have been what he forgot last time. He turned around, looking straight into my eyes, searching. I took a step back when I became acutely aware of the space between us, or rather lack thereof. We stayed like that, locked in each other’s eyes, for at least ten seconds. Jay was the one to break it.

“To hell with this,” he burst out, throwing the toothbrush onto the closest shelf which happened to be and assortment of candy bars that I had helped stock that morning. Without thinking, I reached out to take the toothbrush because I thought he just got the wrong kind or something logical like that.

“Do you want to be my Valentine?” My hand stopped halfway to the toothbrush and I looked up at him. He looked like his life depended on my answer. It just so happened that every word I had ever learned evaporated out of my brain, leaving only one. I thought this word would do so I used it.

“Yes.”

He looked immensely relieved and gave me a huge grin, full of teeth and happiness.

“Thank the stars. I’ll stop by when you get off work.” He promptly turned and walked out of the store. There was an unmistakable bounce to his step now.

It occurred to me that he didn’t know when I got off work, but that thought was quickly obliterated in the all-consuming joy that shot through me like a shooting star. A cheshire worthy grin spread across my face and stayed there for the rest of my shift and unto eternity.


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