The cycle of Strangers

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Chapter 4


I run the wide tooth comb through my hair, looking at my dead ends in the small compact mirror. I keep telling myself I need to get them trimmed, but the thought of cutting my growing hair just hurts me. When I look up, I spot a customer approaching, I return the comb and mirror to the drawer and make sure to set up the till for them. I scan their books through and let them pay.

Once they leave, I take myself to the back shelves in order to rearrange all the books. Molly takes over till duties for a while now, allowing me to rest as well as tidy up. It’s a win win either way. Plus I don’t have to handle the phone calls.

I turn around to the opposite shelves. My eyes shift past the shelves to where molly stands, finding him leaning against the oak brown counter. His figure slumps over the counter as he seduces a blushing Molly. I guarantee that lady will be in her forties, yet still be able to pull guys of any age. Then again, I can’t blame her, she really is a beauty.

My mind focuses back on the boy. How is he here again? The same day, time and a whole week later. He couldn’t have finished the books already with it being a school week. I can hardly read what school assigns me in a month.

I freeze with the duster in my hand, eyes widening at his figure. My heartbeat increases drastically and I gain a shortness of breathe. The brightness of the light from above where I stand, pierces it’s way into my head, almost like a drill. Everything goes fuzzy and my hand is now pressing onto my forehead, trying to compress the buzzing sensation. Everything seems so weird, so out of place. But I have to remember. Molly is here. Nothing will happen, so long as she’s here.

No matter how much I try to convince myself. No matter how much I try to tell myself he’s here out of coincidence, the panic running through my bloodstream doesn’t seem to stop. It doesn’t come to a halt, instead it feels like blood is running around my head, as a way of suffocation.

Tension grows in my limbs, causing a slight wobble in my stance. Flashbacks from my mothers words ring through my head, trying to calm me down. Trying to convince me as well. However, words from her seem like a token of her attempt to pay her attention to me. Everything she says seems like more of a ‘have to’ rather than a ‘want’.

I take three deep breathes and look down at the floor, slowly removing the palm of my hand from my head. If this were to go on for a minute longer I’d be crouching in the corner begging for forgiveness.

“Rosa, come here for a sec.” Molly calls out.

My head rips away from the floor and I do as she says, refusing any eye contact with him.

“Gio here, would like to speak to you.” She smiles widely, making one of those signature ′ I like him’ type of eye gestures. In fact her smile alone, is enough to justify how easily she will fall for any guy. Bless her.

“Why are you here?” I deadpan him without looking for Molly’s reaction. I already know there’s going to be some sort of ‘staff meeting’. She likes to call them despite the lack of staff, only so that she can either congratulate or lecture me.

“Well, I guess I’ll be on my way now.” She nods her head and walks to the back of the store, as I take her place behind the counter.

“I came to buy a new book.” His voice is calm, but he still has this deep voice which runs smoothly through your ears. He has that rich, silky tone. He speaks as if wherever he goes he’s in charge.

That’s not always a good thing.

“Why today?”

“What do you mean?”

“You came here last week today, exact same time.”

“Didn’t notice.” He shrugs.

“I don’t admire stalkers.” My voice remains unbothered, not allowing the irritation to seep through.

He stays silent, staring at me, staring at my hair to which I sub-consciously start to feel. I had to take my braids out the last night and now I’m left with my 4c hair in a puff with my fringe out over my forehead.

Immediately, my eyes dart down to the floor, looking away completely. My body starts tingle all over, knowing his eyes are on me. Too much attention on me alone, makes me feel umcomfortable.

“Somehow you don’t even have to open your mouth to annoy me.” I kiss my teeth, eyes lifting themselves up.

“I’m sorry.” He apologises, lowly. It’s funny, because he does this as if he were a child. You know when a child realises they want something, so they apologise for their own gain... yeah, this is what it feels like!

“For?” I cross my arms under my chest.

“For stalking you.”

“Why did you do it?”

“I was in the area and you didn’t call-”

“You gave me the number, I never said I would or would not call you.” I mark my last few words slowly, pressing my index finger onto the counter after each.

“Why not?” He questions.

“Because you’re a stranger, I don’t know you.”

“You never meet new people without them starting off as strangers to begin with.”

“What if I don’t want to meet new people?”

“What if I do?”

“Why are you so fixed on me?” I turn my head to the side, trying to analyse him. Sure, I know I look good, but why is he so fixated on trying to waste my time. I actually have a job to attend, studying to do and money to make. If he doesn’t contribute to any one of the factors, I am not interested.

“You interest me.”

“That’s not weird at all.” I suck on my front teeth, about to leave.

“Wait! That sounded wrong. I meant to say that, since moving to a new sixth form, I haven’t made many friends. I’m just trying to be interactive, you know.”

“Thank you so much for that pity party.” I raise my thumb up, smiling.

“I’m being honest.”

“I’m sure you are.” I nod.

“Rosa, please hang out with me. Just for an hour.”

“I’m working.”

“After work?”


“What time do you finish up?”


“I’ll walk you home.”

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