The cycle of Strangers

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Chapter 2

“Molly!”

“Molly!” I yell out over shuffling objects as I gingerly walk into a dimly lit room. Tall metal and wooden shelving compartments line themselves in rows within the space. All compartments are stacked to the brim with piles of books. Each wall is painted the same; dull and grey. The floor remains glossed and polished, keeping up with Molly’s standards.

“I’m here, dear. I’m here!” A very frantic Molly appears from behind of one of the units. Her soft perfume follows her throughout, scenting the whole room with her candied fragrance.

“Careful, Molls. You don’t want to trip.” I steady the lady with my hands on her arms.

“I know, I know. But we’re opening soon and I haven’t restocked the selection series. The customers seem to be going crazy for them. Just watch us sell out again by the end of the week!”

“It’s fine, I’ll do it. You should go set up the tills.”

“Aw, but you just entered. I shouldn’t be tasking you immediately.”

“Molly, it’s not a problem.”

“If you’re sure-”

“Go.” I shoo her with the tips of my fingers.

“Well, if you insist.”

As she scurries away, I direct myself to the labelled ‘S’ section on the shelves. Once I spot the series, I place several in the green basket and shuffle myself to the main store. I align the copies on their designated shelf.

“I don’t get how people read from this section.” I mutter, rolling my eyes whilst making sure each book is perfectly placed.

It’s always the early teens digging their heads into books like these. All they ever do is buy more and more books with the same type of ending. Let’s be honest now, most cliché love stories end with heartbreak. What’s the point of reading them when you already know the book’s fate?

Before you shout at me for destroying your fantasies, name me ten books where they live ‘happily ever after’. I mean c’mon, take ‘It only happens in the movies’ or ‘noughts and crosses’ as an example... they both end pretty expectant. After fifty pages of reading the book, it’s almost inevitable that you know how the book is to end.

Love is a cycle. Say I’m wrong but it’s always:

Flirting

Crushes

Confession

Dating

Love

Sex

Boredom

Breakup.

“Rosa, could you turn the sign around, please?”

“Of course.” I reply, immediately walking to the door sign and turning it, so that it reads ‘open’ for the customers.

Around three hours pass by and I’m found behind tills, staring in to the blank cream wall far in front of me. I like this job, I really do. However when no customers are shopping, I really start to regret working here. It’s the thrill I live for. The rushing around. The rapid scanning to decrease the queue’s length, as quick as possible. Luckily enough, in only a few weeks time the Christmas holidays start, increasing the amount of customers in store.

During the school year, though, people would rather be at home studying or playing videogames with their friends. I can’t blame them.

Although, as regretful as this job can get, it’s an escape.

“Excuse me.”

“Excuse me, do you work here?”

I shake my head, snapping out of my thoughts and rest my eyes upon the guy in front of me. His dirty blonde, loosely curled locs rest on his forehead. He has emerald green eyes, a small round nose with a slight flick to it. Scattered freckles on his cheeks and over his nose. Medium sized pink lips and a pointy but round chin... if that makes sense.

As for his dress style, it’s decent. A green crewneck with a collar, light brown straight trousers, a black north face puffer jacket and silver earrings. For England, he’s ‘aesthetic’. For Molly’s bookstore, he looks like any other guy trying to find love within the bookstore.

“Yes, how may I help you?” I give him a short grin, not showing my teeth- especially not the back tooth pulled out a weak ago.

“I’m looking for a book.”

Great. Thanks. How specific!

“Do you have a name for the book?” I edge on.

“Yes.” The guy smiles on, looking at me as if I’m supposed to read minds now.

“And it’s called?”

“Oh, I think it’s called ‘The sun is also a start’.” He clicks his finger as if he had solved some huge mystery. I shake my head to it and look straight at him.

“The romance?” I hold back my laughter, eyebrows raised and eyes wide open.

“Yes.” He confirms timidly with his mouth slightly pouted in a more embarrassed than cute way.

“Gimme a second.” I proceed to make my way past the counter and into the shelves. As expected the stock within the shelves is gone, increasing my work effort for one customer even more. The things I do for people nowadays! “The book isn’t in stock out here, but I can go back to storage and check?”

“Thanks, Ro- Rosalina.”

“What?” I turn back, confused.

“Rosalina, that is your name, right?” He looks at my badge then flicks a look back up to me with a small smile. What is it with people and smiling!

“Rosa’s fine.” My lips cement together giving the guy a short nod before turning back around and making my way over to the storage room.

Such a weird person. Reading a romance. I swear these days, guys only read romance because:

A) They want to impress a girl.

B)They think it makes them more widespread and knowledgeable when it comes to books.

or C) They actually like them for what they are... without seeking validation!

As expected, the book is exactly where I last saw it. I take one from the pile and return to the main store, switching the light off on the way out. The guy stands slumped against a bookcase, reading the blurb of what looks to be noughts and crosses.

“Here.” I hand the copy to him and turn on my heel, but he calls out my name softly, causing me to turn back around.

“Would you recommend this?” He holds up the book in his hand, the cover facing me. Noughts and crosses.

“Sure.” I cross my arms.

“Is that a ‘yes’ or an ‘I’m not sure’?” He prompts.

“I don’t know much about romance books, but I think I read that book when I was fourteen. All I remember is that it’s well written and ends poorly. Back then I would have cried for the book, however now I realise how predictable it may have been.” I laugh, rubbing the back of my neck.

“I’ll take it.” He taps his foot lightly on the wooden floor.

“With that?” I point a the book he made me walk miles to find.

“Oh yes, thanks again.”

“You can follow me to the tills.”

I walk over with him trailing behind. I press the screen, switch it to a new customer, and scan each item.

“Carrier?”

“Yes, please.”

Removing a bag from the hanger, I carefully place each book into the bag. What a waste of £13.54. I could get good Caribbean takeaway with all that. People really have lacked sense in how to spend money these days! Gosh!

“That will be thirteen, fifty-four.” He hands me a twenty pound note. And being the person I am, I clench each side of the note in both hands raising it up align with the ray of light shining through the window.

I adjust several times, waiting for the sun to hit- not that I know how to actually do it. I guess you could say I got this idea from watching shopkeepers do this to me. After all, this guy is buying two romance books at the same time, I don’t know if he’s okay in the head or maybe... it’s just a scam.

“I’m sure it’s real.” He gives me one of those old people, tight lipped smile-

“Fraud has become more frequent these days. You can never be too safe!” I point a finger up straight in protest, to which he pushes down slowly away from his face with his hand.

“I’m not using bloody fraud money. I’ll use a card if you want.” His voice remains unchanged; low and calm, despite the harsh words used. In a way he makes them sound good rather than bad.

“No...it seems to be real.” I cash in the money, placing the receipt into the bag and handing it over the counter only for him not to move.

“Thank you for shopping at molly’s.” I give him a small grin, expecting movement.

But no! He’s still.

“Are you o-”

“Why are you not into romance books?”

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