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A Dollar Store Romance

Zach popped into the dollar store near his house for a quick drink. After walking in, he headed straight for the cooler; the place could’ve been getting robbed and he wouldn’t have noticed. He was lost in his own little world and was blissfully unaware of life outside of his own head.

Barely looking at the drink selection, he grabbed a coke and took it up to the checkout. Setting it down, he fished through his pocket in search of some loose change.

“Is that all?” a soft voice said from behind the cash register.

“Yeah,” Zach replied, still preoccupied with his pocket.

“$1.50.”

Zach pulled out a handful of coins and plucked out all the quarters and dimes. After counting out the exact change, he dropped the rest back in his pocket and handed over what he owed. Upon doing so, he finally caught a glimpse of the cashier.

Her blue eyes sparkled under the bright overhead lights, showcasing a hypnotic gleam of joy. A joy that was even better expressed through her dazzling white—albeit, slightly crooked—smile and fine laugh lines along her otherwise smooth mouth. Zach froze in shock. He hadn’t expected to encounter such a pretty girl today.

“Uh… here you go,” he stuttered.

She reached her hand out and he fumbled to place the coins in her upward facing palm. As he did so, two coins ricocheted off each other and a dime sailed off the side of her hand, landing soundly on the counter top. On instinct, they both reached for it. In a mere fraction of a section their fingertips grazed one another. A jolt of electricity shot through Zach’s arm and sent his heart beating wildly. The touch lasted no longer than an instant, yet the feeling in that moment would stick with him forever.

“Sorry about that,” he managed.

“It’s okay,” she said with a little laugh.

Zach studied her face while she finished the transaction. As hard as he tried, he couldn’t spot one imperfection. Or at least his mind wouldn’t allow him to notice any. It was almost as if she was moving in slow motion like they were in a movie. In his eyes, perfection like this didn’t exist in the real world.

Her delicate chestnut hair flipped as she turned her head toward him. The moisture on her supple lips glistened as she spoke. “Do you need a receipt?”

Zach froze again, staring—or more realistically, gawking—at her. She stood there smiling that perfect smile at him, but he couldn’t speak. He felt his face flush with embarrassment. This had never happened to him before.

“Yes, please,” he finally got out, even though he didn’t need the receipt.

“Here you go.” She covered her mouth with the backs of her fingers and let out another quiet chuckle. This one more playful than the last.

The girl handed Zach the receipt and looked into his eyes with an air of coquettish casualness about her. He wanted to say something—anything. A million thoughts raced through his mind: Ask her what her name is, get her number, see if she’s single, ask if she wants to go have coffee sometime…

“Thank you,” was all he could get out.

He took the receipt and stood for a few seconds in awkward silence. He could feel an ocean’s worth of pressure building on his chest. She wanted him to say something, but before he realized what he was doing, Zach was already standing in the parking lot.

“Dammit, I suck,” he muttered to himself.

“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that.”

Zach turned to see the girl standing a few feet away. In the natural sunlight she was even more beautiful and her smile even more radiant. But why had she followed him out?

“What?” he asked lamely.

She smiled wider, but this time she didn’t laugh. “You forgot something.” She held up his bottle of coke.

Zach looked down at his hand and realized he was only holding the receipt. His face flushed again and he tried to play it off with a smile. “Oh,” he started laughing, “Guess I might need that.”

“Yeah,” the girl chuckled, covering her mouth again.

It was now or never. Zach felt the pressure mounting again, but he couldn’t let this moment slip away from him. He took a few steps toward her and collected his thought.

“Thank you,” he said as he slowly took the bottle from her. “So, what’s your name?”

Showing no shyness, she looked into his eyes and smiled again. Perhaps Zach wasn’t the only one who found perfection in the quirks of another person today.

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