Drumming my fingers on the counter, I kept my eyes glued to the clock on the wall. It was five minutes to three. Only five minutes left. Just five more minutes and I’m outta here. The day was dragging mercilessly. Hardly a customer arrived and I could not wait to just get out of there and do my thing.
“Chance!” a voice boomed from behind me. I sprang up, hitting my knee. A piercing yelp of pain came out, startling the person standing behind my back. I must have been too caught up in watching the clock. Darryl, my boss, was a huge lump of meat that was impossible to not notice or hear from a yard away. “Jesus, man! You alright?”
“Sorry about that, boss,” I said to him, wincing. My knee hurt. A lot. “You scared me.”
“I can see that,” the man laughed. “Watching it won’t make the hands move any faster, you know.”
“Nah, don’t worry. It is a slow day, after all,” he said, rubbing his shiny, black, bald head with his humongous hand. “You know, if you’re in such a hurry, why don’t you go already? Your shift ends in two minutes anyway, right?”
“Thank you so, so much, boss!” I exclaimed. I was already hanging my apron on the wall as I said that, then I shook his monster of a hand and almost jogged to the back exit. “I’ll repay you someday!”
“Don’t worry about it! And watch your step, kid. Don’t want you killin’ yourself before you get where you wanna be so badly,” he shouted behind me, but I could barely hear him. I’d already pulled out my card and flashed it in front of the receiver. With a gentle swoosh, the door opened.
The sky was perfectly clear on that day. The pristine white skyscrapers reflected the sun’s rays, magnifying the light that fell on the city. Everything was bright. I knew it would be a good day. It had to be perfect. So I ran. I didn’t have much time. The game shop was only two blocks away, but I still needed to get from there to Hope’s house on time. I crossed one busy street, then the next, maneuvering through entire crowds of people. I almost made one lady trip, but when I looked back later, she was okay. On the last crossing, I almost got hit by a car. It was a close call, but nothing too out of the ordinary for me.
I’d always had tremendous luck. The worst I ever got out of an accident was the small scar I have above my left eye. And I got that during a huge monorail crash back when I was still in high school. A lot of people died in that accident. People always told me that it was my name that kept me safe. I hardly believe such superstitions, but there’s no denying that I am an extremely lucky person. And that’s in more ways than one.
I stopped in front of the game shop. The tall windows showcased a wide variety of colorful games of various shapes and sizes. Video games, board games, card games, merchandise – this store had it all. I pulled out my woolen gray-blue wallet – Hope had made it for me for our first anniversary. I needed this day to be perfect. For that, I needed money. Quite a bit of it. And so, my wallet was filled with cash, which was a rare sight nowadays. Most of it I’d already spent on the “big gift”. What was left was no small sum, though. I was just hoping that day wasn’t the day my luck would run out and that the person I owed the money to would not ask me to give it back for another couple of days.
Inside the game shop, I found a familiar face behind the counter. An attractive girl with cropped, brown hair and numerous piercings in her ears smiled to me as I entered.
“Hey there, Chance.”
“Hi, Angie,” I said with a stupid grin on my face. I was feeling so good it was almost embarassing.
“Let me guess. Today’s the day?”
“Yup,” I said as I drummed my fingers on the white counter. “Hope you haven’t sold that thing I asked you to save me yet.”
“Don’t you worry,” Angie said as she dived under the counter. She returned with a small black box. The front was adorned with a stylized image of a maze, all in white and gold. The sides were covered with white bunnies with little red spots on different areas of the bodies. “A find like this? I wouldn’t let you and Hope miss it for the world.”
“Dude, thanks a lot,” I said as I laid the money on the counter. The game was incredibly pricy.
“No problem, man,” Angela handed me the receipt. “So, any big plans for today?”
“Well, I have one very general plan. I intend to just go with the flow, as usual.”
“Funny. I thought days like today generally demanded a bit more planning.”
“Trust me,” I looked her straight into her big brown eyes, her face expressing amusement, her raised eyebrow indicating a hint of disbelief. “It can’t not be awesome.”
“We’ll see about that, then. Let me know how it went!” she said louder and louder, as I was already making my way to the door. I had no time to lose. “Oh, and say hi to Hope from me! We should go out somewhere all together soon!”
“Yeah, we will! See ya!” I waved her as I made a sharp right behind the door. If I hop on the monorail that leaves in five minutes, I can make it to Hope’s before she comes back from work. Piece of cake.
As it turned out, I did make it in time. As usual, the traffic lights changed accordingly to my needs, the monorail door closed just behind me, and I arrived at the right station ahead of time. Hope’s apartment was part of a larger complex of buildings that formed a hexagon around a very well groomed patio. The staircase could only be accessed with the right card, but I’d long figured out a way to get in without one. Right next to the door was a fence made of glass that led to a miniature yard with another entrance to the staircase – one that was usually open without a card. One of the panes of glass had been broken off, leaving a very narrow gap. For a normal person, that gap would have been too narrow to cross, but I’m a slender man with very flexible bones. As luck would have it, no cameras were fixed on that little spot, so I would never get caught. And even if there were cameras, life had taught me how not to get caught for… certain deeds.
I had this little spot where I liked to wait for Hope to come back in times like this. The hallway had walls covered in little niches between the doors. They served no purpose aside from being the architect’s grand artistic vision in creating his hexagonal masterpiece. I could always behind them, so that Hope wouldn’t notice me before she opened the door. I loved the look on her face whenever she got so startled and then so relieved that it was me. This time, that was not the case.
I hid as usual. I knew she couldn’t see me. And yet, this time, when I heard her footsteps grow closer and closer, the clink of her keys turning in the door, when our gazes met, there was no surprise at all in her face. I must have frowned in my disappointed, as in that exact moment, Hope burst out laughing. Her long, curly blond hair shook wildly as she was gasping for breath, unable to take in the hilarity of it all. I noticed she was wearing that daisy hairclip that I’d gotten for her.
“You’re breaking my heart, Hope,” I said in a mockingly sad tone.
“I’m sorry, sweetie,” Hope said as she wiped a solitary tear of laughter from her round, beautiful violet eyes. “I just… Somehow I knew you’d be there today. I guess at some point I was bound to get used to your antics.”
“But why today?” I said, with a grin this time. “Well, whatever. I got you something, birthday girl.”
“But my birthday isn’t coming up for another month!” she cried out in disbelief as we entered her apartment covered all in pastel wallpaper.
“So? I got your present early. Here,” I said as I handed her the black box. When she saw it, her mouth formed a neat little “O” and her bag fell out of her petite hands.
“No,” she gasped. “Is it…? How did you get this?!”
“Oh, you know me,” I said. My grin was making my face feel hot. “Pulled some strings. You can thank Angela later for getting a hold of this game. You like it?”
“Are you fucking joking!” she shouted with tears of joy in her eyes and threw her arms around me, kissing me passionately in the lips, our tongues intertwining wildly. “I just can’t take it. You’re too adorable.”
“Oh, I know,” I grinned yet again. “But my adorableness pales in comparison to yours, you know?”
“Like hell,” she grinned and then laughed again. Her laughter was nothing like a typical giggle girls often make in front of guys to look cute. She had hard, hearty laugh. Brutal, even. A genuine laugh that I was so in love with. She took off her coat. “So, you want me to unwrap the game and play it with you, or do you want to unwrap me and play another kind of game?”
“Actually, we’ll do both,” I said as I backed away a bit and grabbed the doorknob. “But before we do that, I have another idea.”