by Luke Worthington
“Hey, I got an email that my order arrived.”
“Name?” the attendant asked disinterestedly. He told her. She typed it in and went back to look. He shifted uncomfortably as he waited. Doubts steamrolled his mind. He considered walking out.
He didn’t. María would love it. She had wanted to read this book for years now. It was something personal, thought out. Something she would enjoy reading, and hopefully enjoy receiving. He wondered if she’d laugh. He hoped so. Would she be surprised that he’d remembered? It had been years ago now. Was it weird? Was it wrong? He considered leaving again.
It wasn’t though… he thought. He still cared about her. He’d gotten a gift off the list for both of them, but a wedding gift from a list was impersonal. He wanted more for her. She was the only girl he had loved that he still talked to. She was the one he had loved the most. He’d never said that.
She had told him not to. And she’d been right. She had left, back home, and he had stayed. It ended. It was always going to end that way. It still hurt when it did. They weren’t supposed to fall in love. He rubbed his eye and told himself it was a contact irritating him.
They stayed in touch, neither willing to really let it go. They moved on. Hell, they gave each other dating advice. But there had always been the hope that they would wind up back in the same place together. At least for him there had. She felt the same, he thought. But at a point, life moves on. He had dated and fallen in love since, so had she. The chance never came up. That’s life.
He moved his weight from one foot to the other, and back. How long did it take to find a book, he wondered. It seemed wrong. It had just arrived, why was she taking so long? He considered walking out again, before the attendant finally returned.
She asked for his receipt and he shoved it quickly across the counter. He’d had it ready since he arrived. She slowly checked the receipt against the contents of the bag she was holding, and he wished she would move quicker. It had been out of print for almost six years. He wondered, rhetorically, how many people could possibly have a receipt for that specific book.
Finally she nodded and handed the receipt back. He stuffed it in his pocket. She slid the bag across the counter. As he crossed to the door, he reached in and pulled out the book. It was a silly kids’ book, about a gay rabbit. The right silly kids’ book. María would love it. She’d be happy. He was sure.
He wanted her to be happy.
And to know that he was still thinking about her.
He left the shop. The doubts followed. He sighed, clutched the bag, and tried to leave them behind.