Kara smells Jack before she officially meets him. He smells clean and forest like. A forest Bath and Body Works candle, though. Not the actual greenery.
“Hey there, did you find everything alright?”
This is one of her usual questions.
In the checkout line at Martin’s Grocery, she has to switch it up during her 8-9 hour shifts, or otherwise, she’d die behind the cash register.
Her other questions include:
“How are you doing today?”
“That looks good!”
Not a question, but conversation starter if the person isn’t a brick wall
“Aren’t they cute!”
Another non-question but parents need some kind of validation after dragging their screaming spawn into a grocery store.
“How can I help you today?”
A question only if they wander up to her register sans items, looking lost.
And so forth.
Kara has been working at her local grocery store for almost two years now. She stopped feeling sorry for herself a long time ago because one, she had an actual job. It didn’t pay buckets, but she was working.
And two, anyone she cared about had moved away after high school. There was no reason to keep herself down because she wasn’t off somewhere at a four year university, plunging thousands of dollars into debt, only to be doing the same thing when she got that pricey degree.
Beyond talking to people, which she loved, being a cashier got boring. The town was small, so she knew everyone. She only got the thrill of a traveler every once in a while. Most of the time they were lost.
“I did, thanks very much,” said the stranger. This new customer with the forest candle-like scent had to look down at her. His height immediately sent sparks throughout her body.
Kara hated being thirsty, but she had a type. The only thing about this guy was his height, however. Everything else was a surprise.
Standing in front of her was a lanky, Asian man, with a Northern accent. His entire being confused her. Kara considered herself conscious and educated, but she couldn’t help being taken aback.
There were Black, White, Latino, Middle Eastern, and even a few Asian people in Smithsville, but she lived in a predominantly Black neighborhood.
This was definitely new.
Another traveler, she thought, and kept moving throughout the transaction. They didn’t say much to one another, which she wasn’t used to. He made her nervous in a way she was unsure of and couldn’t wait to never see him again.
Kara hadn’t even thought about the man again, but it was like he was thinking about her.
About two weeks later, when she was sneaking in some reading at her line, she heard that accent again.
“Hey there, did you find everything okay?”
This time the question was posed to her. The scruff on Lanky Guy’s face had grown out and instead of a plaid shirt, just a plain white tee this time. Plainly attractive.
This skipping of her heartbeat infuriated Kara, but she did her best at playing it cool.
“That was supposed to be my question,” she started to scan his fruits and vegetables. Organic. Of course.
He laughed and did something most customers didn’t, which was reach his hand across the line.
“I’m Jack,” he offered a handshake Kara wasn’t even sure she was supposed to take.
But damn him for making her shook. This was her turf.
He did another thing most customers didn’t do, which was not trying to say her name, even though it was displayed there on her name tag.
“I’m Kara. Very nice to meet you,” she said, making sure to not to take his hand as eagerly as she wanted to.