Simple As This
Look at me. Posting something that I’ve written.
Link to fanfiction here x
“Tried absolution of the mind and soul, it only led me where I should not go.”
She always tried to avoid the Saturday shift.
Saturdays are when, it seems to her, every single high-school student in the surrounding area goes to the mall. It’s not as if she’s ashamed of the fact that she has to work—in reality, she doesn’t, but the pocket cash is always nice—she’d just much rather avoid the awkward hey-do-I-know-you-shit-I-do-now-I-have-to-pretend-I-actually-talk-to-you-because-politeness-dictates.
But the other girl meant to work that day at the jewelry kiosk positioned at the edge of the food court had something that came up so suddenly she could give the owner a scant half-hour notice. The owner, and old family friend, had called Annabeth, practically begging her to work the other girl’s shift. She only went because she would feel guilty for the next couple of days if she didn’t. And because she had been promised an extra $10 an hour.
So that’s why she’s sitting at the kiosk, half-finished Cinnabun in front of her, working on her weekend homework that she’d neglected until now.
A few hours in, she was forced to admit it wasn’t as bad as she’d feared it’d be. While faster than on weeknights, traffic was surprisingly slow, with mostly middle-aged women and a few groups of girls searching for prom jewelry.
She had almost finished with her science assignment when two teens emerged from the surrounding crowd and gestured towards her stand.
These two were different from her other customers because she actually recognized them from school. Piper, in her AP French class, and Percy, who took gym with her last year. The two had an interesting dynamic, and were kind of famous around those who cared because no one knew if they were dating or not, and the pair refused to either confirm or deny.
Even though there was no real avoiding it, she found herself praying they didn’t come her way. She’d had a slight crush on Percy throughout the previous year, and didn’t really want to mess with awkward feelings that had never really gone away. And aside from projects, she’d never even spoken to Piper, and she didn’t want to spark the awkward series of conversations that tend to form after two teens see each other outside of school, because now that some part of you has acknowledged their actual existence, you feel a need to cater to it.
But still they came.
“Oh hey, Annabeth,” Piper said, with less hesitation before her name than she expected. Annabeth, for some reason, was a hard name to remember, and she was mildly surprised Piper knew it. “You work here?”
“Yeah,” she responded. She felt the need to contribute more the conversation, but that’d never been something she was especially good at, so she let it lapse into silence and wondered if it was as awkward for them as it was for her.
They seemed to be have a silent conversation with their eyes before Piper turned back to her. “Cool. I work down at the Mary Kay stall by Macy’s that my mom runs. I’d rather not, but she thinks I need the experience or something.” Piper rolled her eyes. “I mean, I get working, but Mary Kay? I’m awful at it, especially compared to the other workers. If I didn’t think my mom would flip her shit if I quit, I would have done it a long time ago. I hear Cinnabun’s always hiring.” Annabeth couldn’t help snickering a little bit as Piper chronicled her various embarrassing work experiences. She saw Percy looking interestedly at all the little necklaces and bracelets and trinkets that hung around the stand. She wondered idly what his interest was.
“…Anyway, I wish I’d known you worked here. We can grab lunch sometime or something. Or you can pull the fire alarm next time for me. Either way.”
“Oh, no, it’s fine, I don’t need…” She trailed off awkwardly, searching for a not embarrassing or callous way to end that already doomed sentence, but was saved by Percy asking the price of a pearl bracelet.
“Um…that one’s fifty dollars. The pearls are real,” she added when she saw his incredulous expression. He carefully put it back on the rack.
“She wouldn’t have like that anyway,” Piper told him, waving a hand. “I don’t know why you thought she would. It’s too fancy.”
He looked sheepish. “I just wanted to get her something nice.”
Although she didn’t overly want to hear about the girl Percy was evidently trying to impress, she was obligated to say, “I can help you look for something if you want. What does she like?”
“Um…her favorite color’s blue. And we go to the beach a lot.”
“Very helpful, dork,” Piper said, but not without affection. She reached up to muss up his hair, which was funny to watch because he was so much taller than she was. He shrugged out from underneath her arm and attempted to ‘fix’ it, which, in reality, only made it messier.
“Actually…Piper, you said she likes simple, right?” Percy nodded, but Annabeth was already searching for the bracelet she saw the other day while stocking the racks.
Finally, she finds it hanging from a hook on the other side of the cart, and hands it over to Percy, their fingers brushing as the jewelry changed hands.
Six pieces of blue sea glass connected by a thin silver chain now rested in the middle of his palm. It came from a new independent maker, and she’d remembered it because a coral piece in the same set had caught her eye.
“It’s sea glass,” she answered to their unspoken question. “New collection. I saw that a few days ago, and it seemed to fit what you wanted.” Piper nodded in approval as she analyzed it from over Percy’s shoulder.
“She’ll love it,” Piper agreed. “How much?”
“Only twenty-five. The silver’s real, but sea glass isn’t very expensive.”
Piper took and further examined the bracelet as Percy rifled through his wallet, pulling out crumpled five and ten dollar bills.
“It’ll match her dress well,” Piper commented, before placing it into Annabeth’s outstretched hand. She quickly scanned the barcode and put it into a small bag before handing it back.
“Well, there you are,” she said. Upon reflection, she felt the encounter was much less awkward and tedious than she’d expected. She’d actually kind of enjoyed herself.
“Thanks. I’ll have to come back by. There’s some cute jewelry here,” Piper responded, looking around the stall. She locked eyes with Annabeth. “I was serious about lunch sometime, though.”
Annabeth found herself nodding. “Sure.”
Then Piper and Percy dissolved back into the crowd, and Annabeth felt maybe a little lighter than before.
It was a few weeks later, at Junior prom, that Annabeth next saw the bracelet.
She had forgotten about it, really. So much had happened in the meantime, that it had slipped her mind. She’d seen Percy more often, now that Piper was initiating regular lunch dates, but her school work had piled up and she’d been recruited into helping plan and set up the dance that she hadn’t had time to think much on Percy’s mystery girl.
She was working tickets while one of the others went to the bathroom when Percy walked up, tugging his date along at his side. She wore a floor-length blue dress, almost the exact same shade as the bracelet dangling from her wrist, her long brown hair pinned back. Her soft blue eyes reflected the orange and red lights from the dance. Even though she had slight wrinkles lining her eyes and her hair was streaked with gray, she didn’t seem very old, especially when she smiled.