Him & Her

By: Shelby Mitchell

I stand up to my full six feet three inches and get into his personal space, just to the side, very stealthy like. Let him deal with me. I step closer to him and look down with as much menace in my eyes as possible. He takes a wise move back but not away. Looks like I might be going to jail tonight for assault if he doesn’t lay off.

“Look man, I don’t need your help here,” I say motioning to her. “I was just complimenting your chef when you came up—”

She holds up a hand to stop me and still says nothing, instead flashing me a pleading look, so quick, I think I imagine it.

The ginger is furious now. Red eyebrows contort to form wicked arches as he peers at her. “Nori, I’m going to ask you one more time, did you refuse to help this customer?” He asks, completely ignoring me this time.

What the fuck? My imposing presence and height is failing me like a bitch today; first her and now him. I’m going to have to do some serious work on that posture. Maybe he does have some balls but I don’t care. The insistent urge to protect her from him rides me hard. It takes everything I can manage to not go all Wreck It Ralph on him right now and not pound him into the floor. I’m not sure what’s got his ass so tight about her; but I give him a look-of-death stare, take another step toward him and he shrinks back a little more.

Another pleading look from her and I relent in my assault. Nori… hmm, so that’s her name, figures, even her name means food. Excitement tingles up my spine at the possibility of having her become my chef, and is the right amount of opposing force I need to not hit him. But I’m not ready for what I see when I turn back to her.

Her eyes have changed, become distant and shrouded. Is it fear or something else? She’s grown silent and is looking past us in a blank stare, like she’s checked out or resigned to accept a fate only she sees coming. Oh no, she’s stopped being—her. Where’s her fight from before; the fiery spitfire is gone. What happened? I don’t like this. I don’t like this one bit. Shit! I’ve got to make this right.

She speaks, looking straight ahead, more like an army cadet than the vibrant woman of a few moments ago. “Sir, I wasn’t intentionally trying to deny this customer a request. It’s just that his request was not store related.”

“It’s doesn’t matter. You were being rude and that is unacceptable.” The faint smile of triumph he attempts to hide is sickening.

Unbelievable! He’s not even stopping to process what she says. I really was asking for something totally unrelated to this stupid store. He’s latched on to her saying she wasn’t giving me what I want and jumped to crazy conclusions. Listening skills are so underrated in today’s workforce I realize and shake my head in disgust at his lack thereof.

Cold resolve creeps across her features instilling itself like granite as it pushes away the warm animation from her demeanor. And I’m the culprit for it’s invitation. What she said to me was harmless. It’s the best fun I’ve had at this place ever. Things don’t add up.

Wait a minute… she’s not even trying to defend herself. She’s not afraid of him, so what’s up with the quiet act? Her vibrancy from just a few moments ago has faded drastically. A stinging glance of complex, unspoken communication she levels directly in my direction forces a sharp intake of breath within me. What’s going on here? Oh hell no! Have I played right into his hands to set her up? My cocky blindness has given this tyrant the ammunition he needs to lord over her. Shit!

He must be out to get her or something. Such a damn waste of time we can never get back used up on his antics and posturing. I shouldn’t have to go to jail if I punch him for being a supreme ass wipe jerk. Sharp pressure from my fingertips biting into my palms makes me aware of the fists forming at my sides into tight balls. Then I remember her silent request for me to stay out of it and I feel oddly compelled to honor it.

“Well, Nori,” Dickhead continues, seeming to delight in the authority his crap ass job has given him. “In light of this incident, your tardiness in the recent past, and the fact you’re still on new-employee probation, I have no other choice but to dismiss you from your duties—effective immediately. Please collect your things and meet me in my office in five minutes to turn in your employee apron and other effects.”

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