Exactly one week later someone calls security while I am on break. I leave the table where I had been sitting with Hannah as quickly as possible without attracting attention from patrons of the mall, and rush to Micah's store. I am unsure whether or not to be surprised that there isn't really an emergency.
"I'm really, really, really sorry," he whines, simultaneously giving me the puppy dog eyes. I do not allow his overuse of the word 'really' or his cute face to phase me—like I said, I'm a pro.
"The mall is not a playground." I sigh and look around the store once more, actually hoping that maybe some sort of danger will pop out of the pastel clothing that surrounds me. Of all the places in the mall, this place is probably the most harmless looking. "Try not to get yourself into any trouble… I have to go file a report on a shady looking customer or something to cover for this…"
"Wait, wait!" He come out from behind the sales counter and follows me a few feet toward the exit. "I had something I wanted to ask you…" He actually sounds a little desperate, which is not something I would expect from someone like him. I turn around to hear whatever crazy question was worth risking my job. "Can I uhm… Can I uh come over again?"
I cannot stop myself; I must glare at him.
"I mean… I don't want to uh… I don't want to trouble you or anything… I just, uh… My house is pretty far away, and uhm… I have no way of getting home… I thought, uh…" I stare at him as he continues to blabber on. His explanation consists mainly of incoherent nonsense, mumbling, and running his hands through his hair.
Finally he finishes talking, something I become aware of only after too many seconds of silence have passed to be considered a normal awkward pause. "I have a phone," I say, actually pulling it out of my pocket and holding it up. "Next time you could call me or something."
"Uhm…" He grimaces. "No, then?"
I sigh and put my hand to my forehead. "I get off at eleven-thirty, find somewhere to wait for me, and I'll text you…." I don't think I have ever seen someone become so happy so quickly. He actually hugs me, and while a musky slightly sweet scent surround me, I can almost feel the relief as he relaxes. Once I am released, I wave awkwardly to him and turn toward the door to return to work. I'm several feet out the door when he yells after me.
"No service here, remember?" And no, that does not me he is forgiven.
The next morning I find him in the kitchen, somehow making food on the stove I've never used.
"Here, try this," he says, holding a spatula toward me.
I stop and stare at the cooking instrument in his hand. "…Where'd you find a spatula?" I ask. "And where did you get this food?"
"I went out and got a few things," he shrugs. Then he steps forward and holds the spatula out further. "Really, try this… If you don't like it, I'll make you something else… But, uh… I'm pretty sure you'll like it."
"I don't really like breakfast foods…" I turn away reach for the cabinet, where I have several boxes of pop tarts. "I'll just have one of these."
"…That probably isn't as nutritious as this brilliant apology breakfast I've cooked for you…" He holds the spatula up again. "I also made a fruit salad, it's in the fridge."
I take a look to appease him and find a large glass bowl filled with chopped fruit that takes up an entire level of my previously empty but now crowded refrigerator. "You… made enough, didn't you?" I reach in and take out the bowl, which is very heavy and seems to have all manner of fruits in it, not just the easily recognizable ones.
"...I may have gotten a bit carried away at the grocery store…" I glance back to see him running his hand through his hair, looking nervous but also smiling. "But trust me, you'll love it!" He takes the bowl out of my hands and sets it on the counter. "You can go sit down, and I'll bring breakfast to you." He gestures toward my tiny table, which is covered in piles of paper.
"I actually have to go do my laundry," I tell him, shrugging apologetically. "Maybe I'll have some later."
"But it's breakfast." He's whining again, and out come the puppy dog eyes. I'm not sure how long it will take him to learn that his attempts to make me do things aren't working. "It's really important. Sit down and have breakfast." He's already holding out a plate to me, and whatever combination of meat and vegetables he had been making in the skillet does smell good.
"Fine." I start gathering up the papers that are spread out on the table so we have a place to put our plates—which look new and much nicer than the bright green plastic ones that were collecting dust in my cabinets.
"Don't worry! I'll help you do the laundry right after we eat!" He sets two plates on the table and then steps away to fill two glasses with ice water. Not my two cups, but actual glasses.
We eat our meal with actual forks, which were there before, but never really used, and then he does the dishes before carrying my laundry downstairs for me. I don't spend too much time thinking about why he cares so much about whether or not I forgive him, and focus more on not being alone in the basement.
"I guess I'll forgive you," I tell him, as we sit in the tiny, dimly lit basement. "As long as you promise not to do anything that will get me in trouble at work ever again."
"So, asking you to be an accomplice in my plan to rob the store where I work would be a bad idea?" His acting his horrible, but I laugh anyway. And then I make sure he's not serious, because I really need my job and also don't want to have to get him fired.
And... Why do I always write about couches? Oh well.
Thank you for the review Ri Kylee!
...The wilderness is actually really fun. My home is in the wilderness. Have some allergy medication and enjoy nature hikes and looking at flowers and trees and stuff next time!