One look at the skinny brunette clad in the simple graphic tee and leggings waiting in the long queue to the new store's grand opening in the newly-opened shopping mall would never reveal that she had been through a rough patch in her life. Losing her older brother to suicide in the town center last year when she was twenty-five would have sealed the deal to an emotional breakdown if it weren't for the best friend's timely intervention, as if losing the parents to a grotesque car accident three years ago hadn't been traumatizing enough.
She was fidgety about the whole idea of waiting and waiting ... and waiting for what seemed like eternity for the queue to dissipate. Her shopping partner for today was the same loyal best friend, who had stuck with her through thick and thin, through good and through bad. He was slim, though a little bulkier than her. The waiting hadn't bothered him one bit; he was known to have a great deal of patience.
"Terrible," she muttered. "I think it will be lunch before we can even enter the shop."
His eyes shot a glance around. "What about those people who arrived later than us? The queue has actually grown longer, too."
"I just hope we can get whatever it is that we want to buy and leave with our purchase before we are fried by the heat inside."
"That's what I'm worried too." The queue moved ten steps forward. "I sneaked a peek at the shop just now. There are lots of yellow light bulbs, and we both know that that can create more heat than brightness."
The way the two best friends shopped would leave you gaping in horror, and the best part was that they didn't feel the financial pinch, not even a wince, when they whipped out their separate credit cards to seal the purchase.
It left him and the cashier with a temporary raised eyebrow when she lifted her basket's worth of items onto the table for the cashier to scan. She bought ten pairs of jeans (since it was sold at a low, introductory price and words can't describe its comfort), five cardigans, four pairs of heels, two pairs of flip-flops, four pairs of short pants, two black gowns (for an upcoming formal event), five pairs of studs, six pairs of dangly earrings, fifteen graphic T-shirts, two tank tops, two oversized sunglasses and a wallet (as a present).
"Are you sure you'd be able to carry that?" he asked, pointed at the five shopping bags.
"Yes, with a little difficulty," she replied, signing the docket, collected her copy and her bulk purchase. "Thanks. But on the bright side, I don't have to enter a fashion store for the next twelve months or so."
It was his turn, and as the cashier scanned his items into the computer, she saw that he bought three cardigans, three pairs of working socks, two pairs of flip-flops, a wristwatch, ten graphic tees, six work pants, two pairs of jeans and four work T-shirts.
"Thank you for bringing me here," he said. "I'm glad that I found what I wanted at a cheaper price."
They headed straight for their favorite haunt to satiate their growling tummies after ditching their purchases into the trunk and backseat of his Ford Focus.
He knew that her mind had drifted away when she suddenly remained reticent, responded little to his conversations and suspected that the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas left her with a saddened soul. Thinking back in the silence during the drive home, her splurges earlier did worry him.
He always felt worried whenever she spent too much.
When he happened to steal a glance of her, he saw that she had reclined the passenger seat and somehow fell into a peaceful, comfortable sleep. As the car rolled to a stop at the traffic intersection, he reached out to the backseat for a blanket and spread it over her, careful not to awaken her.
No matter how hard he tried, he could never forget that it was during this time that she lost both her parents and brother, and her splurges was the only way she could think of to soothe the grief that had left a gaping hole in her heart.
"Poor you," he whispered, pushed a loose strand of her hair away from her face. "Having to endure so much at this tender age, it must be tough on you."
And with a sigh, he freed the gear and the car picked up speed, continued on with the journey.