Not One to Marry

It was important that Megan worked at the Perfume Counter on the second level on the East Side of the building, near the double doors, because in the morning, before the store opened, Frederick would walk in through the back room, up the powerless escalators, and see her behind the counter, her elbows on the glass display case, with the light from the rising sun falling over her.

It made him smile, that image. And he would remember it until he was too old to remember anything at all.

He frequented her area with trivial motives, which were easily deciphered. He stopped by to ask her questions he knew the answers to and make idle talk about the weather or to complain about working at Renald’s. First, he was awkward around her, nervous even, but soon he became comfortable and soon she became comfortable around him. And as the days went on she would laugh at his jokes, each day a little bit more, till she laughed so hard that she reached out her hand and touched his arm: stop you are making me laugh too hard.

It wasn’t long until they went out together. And because neither of them were managers, no one at Renald’s objected. They went to a movie and the gossip was they walked together for some time after. And on that long walk he held her hand and she rested her head on his shoulder.

They were complete opposites. He was loud and cruel and prude. He was notorious, mostly to those who worked side by side with him, for being limited and uncompromising. She was quiet and kind and would bend easily with the direction of the breeze; a handful of Renald's employees - most of them good looking boys, from nineteen to twenty-four years old - could tell you the color of her bed sheets. Frederick knew all of this. He knew that she didn’t match up with what he had in mind. When he would daydream, which was often, of his future life and the woman he would share it with, he saw another face completely. He saw a slender, brown-haired woman with a British Isles complexion. And their fair-skinned child running down the coast away from their stone cottage, toward the dark blue sea.

Megan was tan (half Hispanic, from her mother’s side) and her hair was dyed a new color every month. She had a wide smile with perfectly white teeth and pink lips, which she often licked. A tattoo of stars ran up her feet and around her ankle. And all of these things worked for her, but they were not things which he allowed himself to grow attached to or even familiar with.

But still they went out, on Fridays and Saturdays and they would text each other from their respective departments on workdays and take their lunch together, walking across the parking lot to a newly opened In & Out. They talked of everything, no subject was taboo, except maybe tomorrow and what it would bring. And the only thing they enjoyed more than agreeing, was arguing over that which they disagreed.

For two years they did this until one picturesque desert winter with blue days, no snow, and welcomed bouts of rain. He knew then, that it was time. She had taken less hours at Renald’s for the new year; having decided to focus on her schooling, of which she was behind. He quit the job altogether with a respectful two weeks notice and the quiet resignation of man with different plans. He stopped seeing her in the same way.

And Frederick’s friends would ask him repeatedly, why don’t you see Megan anymore?

And he would respond, rather dryly, “She isn’t what I have in mind.”

But she makes you happy, they would reason.

He would shrug, as if to say maybe happiness isn’t what I have in mind, then walk away.