One-shot. Cara works at music store, but her favorite thing about her job is the store's most frequent customer.
There’s one shining beacon of hope in my otherwise mundane life though – guitar guy. He comes into the music store nearly every day. I’m not sure why, he never buys anything except the occasional guitar pick. He just sits in the guitar section, playing the most amazing original acoustic guitar pieces. I don’t even know this guy’s name, but I’m pretty sure I’ve been in love with him for months. I just love the way his fingers skim over the chords almost effortlessly, like the guitar is an extension of him or something. My friend Dana, who works with me in the music shop, frequently tells me to stop being a creepy stalker and just go up and talk to him. Unfortunately, being the hermit that I am, my social skills are little to none. If this guy was a cat, it’d be a different story. But he’s not. He’s a human. With the most amazing short, black hair, big hazel eyes, and these lips that... Okay, I won’t go into creepy stalker detail. You get the picture. I find him incredibly attractive.
Today he came into the store for an hour. He was wearing light blue jeans, a black hoodie and sunglasses. He took them off as he walked into the store, like suave people do in the movies. Damn them. I internally agonized over whether I should greet him and realized it was part of my job description so I probably should. Dana poked me in the back, in his general direction, as a sign of encouragement. I took a step forward, nodded to myself reassuringly and began to walk towards him. It was all going swimmingly up until then. Being entirely focused on my destination, I neglected to look at everything in between and found myself crashing to the ground in a sea of xylophone notes. I had tripped over. Shit.
As I was getting to my feet, rubbing my ass with a grimace on my face, I looked up to notice he was staring at me. Oh, good. He saw. A concerned look crossed his face as he observed me.
‘Are you okay?’ He asked.
I was too mortified to even speak, so I simply nodded, feeling like I was going to swallow my tongue, and turned on my heel to run into the staff room. I can only imagine how odd he must have thought I was. Dana followed me into the staff room. ‘What is wrong with you?’ She laughed.
‘Do you mean aside from the massive bruise that I can feel swelling on my leg?’ I said, irritated.
‘Don’t worry, Cara. You haven’t ruined your chances, I’m sure. He probably won’t remember who the clumsy girl was next time he comes back anyway.’
I shrugged. ‘Well, I guess I am pretty forgettable.’
Dana frowned. ‘You know that’s not what I meant. Now get the hell up and stop feeling sorry for yourself. You’ll have another chance another day.’
Another day came a week later when I arrived for the morning shift.
‘He’s been here for about fifteen minutes already,’ Dana said quietly in my ear. ‘I haven’t tried to serve him. Go on.’
I felt a little sick, but nevertheless I was resolute not to make a fool of myself this time. I nodded, running a hand through my hair, and walked slowly and carefully over to the guitar section. He was sitting down on a chair, his back to me, just holding a guitar in his hands, as if to see how it felt or if they were compatible. He had a tattoo of a scorpion on his neck. He looked up when I approached him. He didn’t smile, and he didn’t frown, he wore a soft, thoughtful expression, as though he’d forgotten he was in a public place.
I put on the warmest smile I could manage without looking like I was forcing anything and began to talk. ‘Hi, can I help you at all?’
He looked at me thoughtfully for a minute. ‘Uh, I don’t think so right now, but thank you.’
I felt a little put out. I mean, I know I was only asking him if I could assist him, but if he didn’t even need my professional opinion, why the hell would he want to date me? Still, I kept the smile on.
‘Okay then, well if you need anything I’ll be around. I’m Cara,’ I added. He smiled politely and nodded, returning to looking down at the guitar. I breathed a sigh of relief. Regardless of whether he wanted my help or not, I still got through the conversation without looking brain dead.
‘I wonder why he comes in every single day,’ Dana said as we stacked boxes of violins in the storeroom. ‘I mean, we don’t have that huge a range of guitars. How many times does he need to play the same ones before he knows which one to buy?’
I shrugged. ‘Maybe he can’t afford one or something. I’m sure there’s a logical reason.’
‘Either way, you’re not complaining, right?’
I grinned and shook my head. ‘No.’
We continued stacking the boxes in silence, lost in our own thoughts. I’d never wondered why he’d come into the store so often, but now I was curious.
Dana suddenly began to speak again. ‘I saw him looking at you today.’
‘Huh?’ I replied, still lost in thought.
‘Guitar guy. He was looking at you.’
‘Oh, was it when I jammed my fingers in the grand piano? I did say “fuck” pretty loudly,’ I grimaced.
‘No,’ she replied. ‘When you were practicing “Moonlight Sonata” on the piano. Before that.’
‘He looked pretty enraptured.’
‘It’s a nice song,’ I shrugged. ‘Maybe he hadn’t heard it before.’
‘Yeah, that must be it.’ Dana looked at me with an expression I couldn’t place.
‘What?’ I said, frowning.
‘You’re just an idiot, that’s all.’
‘Well, thanks. Tell me something I don’t know!’
The next couple of weeks passed without incident. I avoided guitar guy because I didn’t want it to seem like I was there every time he turned around. God, I’m pathetic sometimes. One Tuesday lunch time, the store was near empty, and I was the only one working. It was completely silent, except for a faint plucking of strings in the guitar section. I hadn’t seen him come in, but I knew it was him. I followed the sound to where he sat, his eyes closed in concentration, his mouth slightly open, as if he’d forgotten where he was. When he finished, he slowly opened his eyes and looked up. I abruptly realized I’d been standing right in front of him, watching, forgetting to keep my distance. I didn’t know what to say. He smiled at me and I figured I should probably say something.
‘That was pretty amazing. Did you write that yourself?’
‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘Thank you.’
‘Wow.’ I sighed, sitting alongside him, forgetting my nervousness in the haze of wondering how incredible it would be to be able to write songs like that.
He merely looked at me as I gazed thoughtfully at nothing in particular, in my own world.
‘Cara?’ He verified.
I looked at him, and smiled. ‘Yeah.’
‘Nice to meet you, Frank.’
‘Nice to meet you too,’ he said softly.
Without thinking, I spoke, still floating on the magnificent feeling the song had left in me.
‘You come in here a lot.’ He didn’t say anything. ‘Why do you come here so much?’ I turned to him, waiting for a reply. He didn’t say anything, just looked at me for a moment. We stared at each other momentarily. I was suddenly brought out of my daze. ‘I’m sorry, that’s really none of my business.’
With this sentence, I immediately returned to my businesslike tone. ‘Uh, is there anything you’re looking for?’ I asked, gesturing to the row of guitars.
Frank stared at me, then shook his head as if to clear his head. ‘Uh. No.’ And with that, he stood, placed the guitar on the chair, and left.
It had been three weeks, and there had been no sign of Frank. Wasn’t it my luck, that I’d finally learn his name, then never see him again? Dana and I were at the counter, opening a new pack of picks to sell, when the door swung open, letting in a slight breeze, and Frank. He avoided my eyes as he walked all the way to the guitar section. I’d really blown it when I asked why he came here so much. Maybe it was because he was avoiding something terrible at home. God, I was an insensitive, nosey idiot.
I followed him to the guitar section a few minutes later anyway, hanging around the electrics, watching from afar to see if he was going to play a song. He didn’t. He just sat there looking agitated, the guitar sitting on his lap. I could see Dana over by the grand piano, spying on the both of us. She’s never been one for tact. Frank’s eyes suddenly shot up to look at me. He was frowning, but I couldn’t place what kind of frown it was; determined maybe?
And then, he stood up, walking straight over to me. ‘Look,’ he spurted instantly. ‘I’m not a weird stalker. In fact, I’ve never done anything like this in my life but I just couldn’t stop myself. And I have to tell you right now before I vomit.’
I just stared at him. This is the most he’d talked since we’d met, and he was confusing the hell out of me.
‘Fuck,’ he said, looking at the ceiling like he was pleading with God or something. ‘The other day, you asked me if I was looking for something.’ He took a deep breath. ‘The truth is, I come to the store, like every day, trying to get the balls to talk to you, and so I sit there playing the guitar, trying to get your attention and buy myself some time. And I feel like the biggest fuck, because I don’t even know you really, but I can’t seem to think about anyone else. But I woke up today and decided that I don’t wanna come in here one day and hear you’ve been hit by a car and realize I wasted a million chances being a coward. So I guess I wanted to tell you that I come in here so often because... Because I’ve found what I’m looking for. It’s you.’
I was speechless. This couldn’t be happening. ‘You saw me trip over,’ was all I could manage to say.
He nodded in reply.
‘And you still like me?’
He frowned, then nodded again.
I burst out laughing. ‘Oh my God, I think we’re made for each other. We’re both idiots.’
Frank frowned deeper. ‘What?’
I couldn’t stop laughing. ‘I’ve been stalking you for months too.’
He grinned at me. ‘You have?’
I nodded. And then Frank leaned forward, and kissed me. I felt as if I’d been waiting my entire life for this very moment, and I knew right then, I wouldn’t be spending this Friday night home alone with my cat.