22 March 2013

A Meet Cute of Sorts

Natalie and I were supposed to be shopping for party supplies, but so far over the course of the day we had only succeeded in purchasing brownie mix, looking at dresses in one of the mall boutiques, eating Chinese food and scarfing two cups' worth of frozen yogurt. 

By the time we got to the store, we had both lost our passion for party supplies.  My sister wrinkled her nose when I showed her a prospective box of blank invitations.  "Lame," Natalie said, then showed me what she had found. 

"Pathetically lame," I said.  I turned to put the invitations back on the shelf, making it one of those smooth movements where you bend over while turning around.  Usually a plan for grace works out for me.  But I never made it to the shelf–my hand and the box hit someone in the leg. 

"Oh!  Sorry," I said.  I tossed the box onto the shelf and straightened.  The guy was grinning at me.  Grinning.  Like I had done him a favor.  Of course I had to mentally check to make sure I hadn't accidentally touched his, well, you know.  And I hadn't.  "Can I help you?"

"You don't work here," he said, giving my entire body a once-over, then grinning at me again. 

I was wearing jeans and a green t-shirt, which was a far-cry from the red and khaki of the store slaves.  "Well, no."  I expected him to go away then, but he didn't.

Natalie stepped between us.  "I'd thank you to stop checking my sister out.  She has a boyfriend already and isn't taking any applications."

The man, who was really a guy just about my age, smiled again.  "Is that so?"  He advanced on me, forcing me to step backwards into the shelves.  Items clattered behind me and fell to the floor, and one of them even broke. 

I started to kneel to clean up the mess, but he took me by the arm and kept me upright.  "Excuse me?" I exclaimed.  "Let go of me!"

"I was hoping I would meet you," he said. 

Natalie grabbed his free arm and tugged.  "Come on, dude.  Time to go!"

I threw off his arm and moved into a ready stance, completely prepared to give him a hockey player's nose and a few other broken parts.  But he just laughed at me. 

"I'm Avel," he said.  Normal people shake your hand when they introduce themselves.  Not Avel, whoever the heck he thought he was.  No, Avel pressed me back into the shelves, his chest on mine, his nose just touching my nose.  His black eyes glittered and I tried to push him away, but for some reason my arms wouldn't move.  I don't mean that I was paralyzed with emotion or anything like that.  My arms really couldn't move–something was holding them down.  Something fuzzy and invisible and intangible, and I felt it all in chills up my spine.

Natalie started yelling for help.  When that didn't work, she screamed.  "Rape! Rape!"

It worked.  Avel winked at me and disappeared around the end-cap of the aisle.  I stumbled forward, pulling random stuff off the shelves as my hands reached for purchase.  Natalie grabbed my elbow and yanked me away from the shelves, making me leave everything scattered on the ground, even though I felt awful not picking it all up. 

On our way to the car, I thought I saw Avel again, but my peripheral vision got fuzzy just when I turned my head to look.  As far as I was concerned, he was gone and I would (thankfully) never see him again.

Funny how life works sometimes.

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