The Girl Behind The Counter
"Dude, just go up and talk to her. It's not that hard. Calvin shook my shoulders, knocking me out of the daze I was in. I looked at him and smirked. "You know I'm not going to do that." I said.
"And that's why I'm trying to convince you. Tell him, Franny, he should do something" Calvin replied, almost angrily.
"Maybe it's destiny, fate, and all that stuff. Even if it isn't, you'll never know until you try" Franny replied nervously. I could tell she didn't want to upset me.
I peered over at the counter, mesmerized. She shouted out order names, her voice standing out like a piano in a strings ensemble. Then she would smile, prompting me to do the same. Her brown-grey shirt spelled out "turnt down," whatever that meant. Still, she had an exuberant sense of beauty many guys would agree on as attractive. I hated falling into the same trap of love repetition that inevitably leads me wondering why I'm even surprised to see typical met with typical.
"TWENTY FIVE" she suddenly yelled out, ice cream sundae in hand, looking over to see which customer would be holding up a receipt. Her face fixated towards the area we were in. I tried fixing my facial expression, hoping to contort it to something resembling the stature of a mysterious, handsome guy.
"Oh, that's us. I'll go grab the order" Calvin said.
Before I could stop him, he jolted up and headed towards the counter. Shouldn't I have been the one going up? A feeling of dread overtook my mind, making my heart drop. Maybe I just missed a golden opportunity to talk to her. I mean I could just go up and make conversation. But to someone who was working? And out of the blue during the busiest time of the day? No thanks.
Calvin returned shortly, a devious smile on his face. "She has a nice smile and she was pretty nice. You're going to miss out man." Franny glared at him, as if to reprimand him. He looked at her nervously and chuckled. "But yours is still the best, of course."
They weren't wrong and I knew I didn't have the guts to do it anyways. In my mind, I tried playing it off, choosing to believe that relationships should come naturally and if it were meant to be, the universe would find a way to bring us together. Besides, the whole shenanigans of going up to a girl and asking for her number come from scripted Hollywood flicks. No one really does that in real life, but I still couldn't fight the feeling of hope every time she looked over.
"So, are you going to talk to her? Or are you gonna stare at her for eternity?" Calvin said, waving his hands at my face.
"Probably not" I sighed. "Even if I did somehow meet her, she probably doesn't love Jesus anyways."
Franny and Calvin both looked at me, stone cold in the face. "Are you serious? You're willing to let that come in between what could be your future?" Franny said, exasperated.
"I'm just saying that it's something important to me and I don't know if I'm okay with someone who may not believe the things I do" I replied, knowing it was the right thing to say, but fully aware I wanted nothing to do with what was "correct."
"Suit yourself man. If you're not eating the ice cream, we're gonna finish it. You're just torturing yourself by staying here and doing nothing" a disappointed Franny said.
We polished off the remainder of the ice cream sundae and headed towards the door as a new influx of customers waddled into the tiny store. I looked back and took one last glance at her, trying my best to remember all her features but coming up blank in any short-term or long-term memory. It was a weird feeling, this odd melancholic emotion telling me, in a few short hours, I wouldn't be able to recall what she looked like, how her hair was done, or even the sound of her voice. And the longing to remember these things, as odd as it sounds, almost had me darting back to the counter.
We headed off to the streets, ready to part ways. "Hey, if you ever want me to help you out with this girl in the future, let me know. It would be my pleasure" said Calvin. I knew he meant it but also knew I could never accept his help. It just seemed, well, awkward to me.
"I'll be sure to give you a call when when that day comes." I gave him a handshake, Franny a hug, and the two, hand-in-hand, strolled towards the opposite direction. I went off my own way, soon passing by a street that cuts toward the ice cream store. The world seemed to be luring me into the alley, claiming fate and destiny and the allure of taking risks, simply to know it was better to have tried than to live the rest of my life wondering "what if."
A battle waged inside of me, a civil war of sorts, fighting within the union of a nation for causes in complete reversal of each other. I tried justifying it in any way possible, calling upon some mad hope that divine intervention would suddenly teleport me to the front of the store and command me in a booming voice to stop being a wuss.
Sure, I was looking for a bright neon sign that spelled out "ask her out," and even then, I'm not sure if I would've done it. It would be easier to just go home. I looked towards the direction to the road back to my apartment, then back to the street leading me to the ice cream store. Or was it the other way around? I hardly remember, being drunk in the high that is first love.
I took one step forward.