The cycle of Strangers

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Chapter 8

I knock on the door, waiting for a response. And once I hear a faint cough, I let out the breathe I never knew I was holding in and walk into the room.

Despite the hours that had gone by, she sits in the same place, this time with a laptop. From what I can see, it looks like she’s ordering stock.

“Molly.”

No reply.

“Is it alright if Gio and I go for our lunch break at the park? We’ll be back at the right time.” I say, kind of defensive on the last part. I’ve never asked Molly to leave the store, no matter how much she tried to tell me I need ‘fresh air’.

“As long as you two are back on time, it’s fine.” Her tone slips out icy, not as harsh as earlier on, but still enough to make me aware she needs time.

I leave the room, grabbing my coat on the way out, whilst making sure to slowly close the door, so that I don’t accidentally slam it shut. I’m not sure if I’m imagining things, but when she spoke to me, her voice sounded amused. To be fair I don’t blame her. One minute I’m asking why this boy is here, the next I’m asking to leave the store with him. If I were in her place, I’d be laughing too.

“Let’s go.” I mumble, walking past him.

“What have I done now?” he groans, dragging his feet on the floor, as he walks out the front door behind me.

“Molly probably thinks I’m dumb.”

“What the fuc’ that gotta do with me?” He recites the one Tiktok sound, forcing me to stifle my laughter.

“I acted like I didn’t want you hear in the morning and now I ask to go out for lunch with you. It’s sus.” I fold my arms, carrying the walk down the village High Street.

“Oh my, Rosalina. If you thought this was a date, I can assure you, this is no-”

“Shut up.” I let out a small laugh accidentally, then hit the back of his head and jog forward a little, or at least up to the greengrocer. I tilt my head at the notice stuck onto the glass window. ‘Fresh strawberries and cream! Buy a portion before it runs out!’ Behind the glass, I spot the cups of strawberries covered in cream with a wooden utensil sticking out. I wonder if they’re the sweet type or if they’re bland and sour.

“You want?” Gio stands behind me, trapping me from any possible ideas of trying to escape. The air thickens and my vision blurs at the fruit I was looking at. I rub my eyes, then turn around to meet his.

“Yeah.” I look around, waiting for him to move away. But no, he stays still, watching me intensely. Now that I’m thinking about it.... maybe he’s never seen a black girl before. He does have an accent after all, it wouldn’t surprise me. However if this is his way of fetishizing ... I can’t be his test subject!

“Can we just go and get th-”

“Your eyes.” He interrupts.

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