Do you like what you see? a sparkly voice asked.
He glanced around, thinking the question was directed to someone behind him. Then he saw a pair of brown eyes sizing him up and realized for whom it was meant. A clingy ruby top hugged her slim body, an outfit quite unbecoming for a salesgirl.
He wondered what kind of salesgirl used stealth in approaching her customers, since he didn’t see or hear her walk over to the shelf packed with cereals. He must have been carried away trying to decide on whether to go with Kellogg’s or Weetabix. Yet he found it a trifle unusual that she was appraising him, with an impertinence that was at odds with her teenage looks. He placed her age at 19, and thought her too young to be acting so brazenly.
You can’t make up your mind yet?
He flicked a glance at the shelf. Yes, lots of cereals –
She scrunched up her face. No…I meant…She waved her hand dismissively towards the shelf, then drew his attention to her body, with a swift sweep of her wrist.
He frowned at this. How could he have mistaken her for a salesgirl? he thought, remembering he had heard about a group of jaunty female undergraduates that liked to haunt the supermarkets in town, hoping to fly-trap any skirt-chaser. Not surprisingly, these girls hardly bought anything of worth, not even a bar of Mars or Bounty. Most times, you caught them tossing a tic-tac into their mouths or popping bubble gum with stark casualness while browsing the shelves. Weren’t they salesgirls in some way?
Her smile deepened as she arched her body in a sly suggestive pose. Tell me, you like…? Her words teased the nerves of his restraint.
He held her gaze, still frowning, but now remembering a not-too-distant time his life revolved around the scent of a woman, and how delicious the world had been then. No responsibility, no remorse, was his motto at the time. But he had changed, or so he often told himself. He let himself bask briefly in longing, and almost snatched a business card from his wallet, but then he held up his left hand, as if to shush her, and stroked his stubble with flourish, so she could catch the glint of gold on his finger.
She didn’t seem to mind, he noticed; she must be used to luring men. He wouldn’t have minded himself, he thought, but how ill-timed it all was. He clenched his jaw as she grinned and stuck her pinky between her lips. An image primeval and yet so familiar seared his mind, and he felt a sudden dryness in his throat, and a desire to squeeze all of her into a squelchy puree in his palms. But he already had something better than this playful girl. So maintaining his cool, he reminded himself of just how fortunate he was to have entrapped another girl, and yes, he wasn’t ready to mess up his chances of a relationship with her, not with this girl who seemed to live on noodles for breakfast.
She was still smiling anyway, when he edged around her and grabbed a pack of Krispies and without indulging her with as much as a glance he turned away. Though he heard her scoff behind him, he didn’t care because it was a small world after all, and he was sure someone like him would run into her again, and their next meeting would not be hampered by time and commitment.
But for the moment, his chairman’s daughter, who was so well-heeled, was waiting for him in her Baby Jeep right outside the supermarket doors.
Uche Peter Umez is an award-winning author of Sam and the Wallet, Dark Through the Delta, and a few others.