Colton shook some of the rainwater off of him as he stepped inside the parts store. The heavy fall rains were a sure sign of a heavy winter to come. A quick glance revealed the empty isles and Mr. Showman slouching against the counter. With heavy, wet steps he started past the short rows of shelves towards the pipefittings at the back of the store. As he rounded the end cap display of pipe glue, he nearly stepped right on top of another customer who had been crouched down looking at…. It didn’t matter what she was looking at because suddenly she was the only thing worth noticing in the room. She lost her balance and swayed away from him as he startled her. She was a very thin-framed young woman with short cut dark brown hair that framed her slender face. Her large multi-colored eyes of green, brown and blue looked up and locked onto his
Anabelle flinched and nearly fell over when the giant customer came within inches of stepping right on top of her as he rounded the end of the isle. A slight gasp escaped her lips and she looked up quickly to see if the customer was going to continue to walk over her before she could move. As she lifted her gaze she met the most electric blue eyes she had ever seen. The mountain of a man loomed over her and in the flickering isle light she could she the reflection of rain drops on his muscular arms. His wet black hair lay matted against his head. She shied away and broke their gaze. Quickly, Anabelle fumbled to pick up the pipefitting and glue that she had dropped. She stood up, mumbled an apology for being in the way and rushed off towards the counter to make her purchase.
She looked away blushing and collected her dropped items. Colton started to lean down to help her but she hastily stood up, muttered something and started for the checkout counter before he could say anything to her. The petite woman couldn’t be more than 5’ 5”, quite the comparison to Colton’s 6’ 9” stature. He watched silently as she set her things on the counter and Mr. Showman rang them up. Colton started towards the counter, intrigued by this new woman in his little hometown.
As he made it to the counter she pulled out a small black wallet from her pocket and took a dingy, crumpled five-dollar bill out and handed it to Mr. Showman. Colton stood a few steps behind her and took in the new sight. Her faded gray t-shirt with red stains and denim jeans hung loosely on her boney frame. She nervously tapped her right foot causing her square-toed cowgirl boot to make a slight clicking noise on the tile. She moved to brush her thick hair behind her right ear, revealing a side view of her fair complexion. Colton noticed there was no ring on her left hand.
As the hair was moved away from her face she must have noticed Colton standing behind her because she swallowed hard, took her change from Mr. Showman and clumsily picked up her item and darted for the exit. Colton stood and watched as she dashed through the rain and climbed into a full size 2500 Chevrolet Silverado with large mud tires. The tan truck’s headlights came on and swept past him as it turned to leave to parking lot.
Colton watched the truck turn onto Main Street and disappear into the rain heading east out of town. “She’s been here almost two months already.” Mr. Showman said, interrupting the silence. Colton had forgotten he was standing behind the counter. Two months? How had he managed not to see her around in two months? Or at least hear gossip about her? “She moved up here following work.” Continued Mr. Showman, “She was working as a food safety manager at a meat company in Louisiana but the company went under and all the employees lost their jobs. After being out of work for a couple months she finally found a job all the way up here. She was hired on as the food safety manager up there at the slaughter plant after it got bought out two months ago, that’s when she moved up.” Colton remembered when the slaughter plant got bought out, it made the front page of the local paper, but he hadn’t realized they had brought in any new employees…. It kind of surprised him that she didn’t make the front page. A new person in town was big news.
“Poor kid musta’ run low on money before she got the job up here. People think she was livin’ in her truck for the first few weeks until she bought the Sheddleton house. The grandkids have been desperate to get rid of it. Think they let it go ‘fer next ta’ nothin’. Now she stops by hear every Friday after cashin’ her paycheck and gets a few things for fixin’ up the place.” Mr. Showman concluded.
“The old Sheddleton house? They should have given her that run down shack for free! I can’t see how it’s livable there.” Colton couldn’t mask his shock at the girl’s misfortune. “Those greedy grandkids probably took advantage of her situation. They could’ve given it to her and used it as a tax write-off. Those New York City brats don’t need the money. I can’t imagine that poor little lady trying to fix that place up to live in. I’m sure it’s beyond fixin’!” Mr. Showman chuckled at Colton’s frustration. “I’m sure your right son. So why don’t you go up there and check on her? Someone needs to take her the pipe glue she forgot anyway.” The old man said with a sly grin. Colton looked down at the counter and saw the set of pipe glue she had bought but left on the counter in her haste to leave.