The girl in the uniform with a name badge without a name looks at me as if I were odd. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d received such a look. Although I would say, it was probably the first time it was fully justified, for never before had I passed out in a store and brought down a shelf of bread and waffles on top of me. As she helps me to my feet, I hold onto her as the room spins, but after a few seconds, manage to regain my composer, albeit without much dignity. Luckily, it was only a shelf of bread and not a shelf of alcohol. If that had been the case, I’d be fucked.
“You okay?” she asks.
I’d seen this nameless girl before. She’d served me on the checkout a few times. She was around the same height and age as Meeko, but not as pale. Meeko’s skin was the same shade as the moon. She was as white as a ghost. I’d teased her about it on a few occasions in the past, but not anymore. I’d learned my lesson and wouldn’t make the same mistake again.
“It’s like fucking Casper the Friendly Ghost” I once proclaimed while drunk and horny. To this, she tore my lip by grabbing it and yanking as hard as she could. I ended up needing stitches.
“I’m good thanks,” I tell the girl. She had a haircut that made her ears stick out like those of a pixie. It was cute. She had dark circles around her eyes too. Meeko had these, partly from a lack of sleep, and partly because her mother was Japanese. She was also anaemic, or at least that’s what she told me. I’m not sure why the girl had them. The circles, that is.
“You have dark circles around your eyes” I blurt.
“Oh,” she says.
“It’s not a bad thing” I reply, desperately trying to dig myself out of a hole. “It suits your skin and ears.”
“My ears?” she says.
I was beginning to see why Meeko grew so frustrated with me.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that. You have lovely ears. I’m just a bit dazed.”
“Sure” she responds, frowning and yet with a slight half-smile on her lips.
I was about to continue the conversation when my phone buzzed. Taking it out, I saw I had a message from Meeko. It read, were r my mufins? stp takn so lng. For someone with a degree in English, you’d think typing a message like that would be sacrilege, but Meeko seemed to take great satisfaction in doing all she could to make you think she wasn’t as sharp as she actually was. For a paper she’d written as part of her dissertation, she’d achieved the highest mark in the history of her course. Not that she told anyone this. I only found out because one of her lecturers drank in a bar I used to visit before I started working night shifts. He once told me that Meeko was the most infuriating student he had ever known.
“She never attends her lectures. Constantly hands in her papers late. Shows no interest in the course, and yet when it comes to her exams, she gets the highest marks without even trying. And what does she do with her talent? She shuns all offers of lucrative work and chooses to work in a café! Incredible.”
It was like the way she dressed down all the time. Baggy this, and baggy that, and yet whenever she did go to the effort of wearing a dress, it was like dating a model. Thinking of her legs and the way they glowed beneath my touch, I found myself staring into the distance as the girl waved her hands before my face trying to regain my attention.
“You think you can help me with this shelf?”
“Sure,” I say, and together we lift it back into place before clearing the floor of all the loaves of partly squashed bread and packets of crushed, dreamy waffles.