“So, what kind of games do you play?” Gale’s lush, kinky blond hair fell down around her face as she sat studying her cards under the fluorescent lights. “It’s usually pinochle or euchre for me.”
“A little of everything, really. Board games, cards games, role playing games…”
The host carefully placed another pitcher of sangria on the rickety table the ambled off to another group. Gale played some cards and refilled her glass without looking up.
“Oh, yeah, okay. But do you play games?” Her emerald eyes peered out of the thicket framing her pale skin. “You know. Games.”
She slowly smiled. I drained my glass and asked for the check.
The sun crept into my efficiency’s tiny window and woke me as she was pulling on her t-shirt. “Gotta go,” she smiled, shaking out her mane. “Early shift in the ER today. Usually I work graveyard. I had fun. Mind if I come over again?”
I muttered something about getting her some orange juice while I searched the floor for my glasses.
“You’re sweet, thanks, but no time today. I’ll see you tomorrow!” The door’s chain rattled behind her.
A 7am knock.
“Uh, Gale, hi! How’re youâ€””
Silhouetted in the doorway, her head and shoulders were haloed by her wild hair. I had never seen anyone so beautiful in rumpled scrubs. I knuckled my eyes.
“Shhhh. I’m in a hurry.” She kicked the door shut behind her.
In just two weeks of visits I switched from a night owl to a morning person. Sometimes she brought doughnuts. When she stopped showing up, I wished I’d convinced her to give me her number. I missed her. I got over it.
“Welcome to Sears, can I help you find something?”
The brambles of her hair had been hacked away, and what was left was held in bondage by a severe clip. These had been five unkind years. “Gale?”
Her tired eyes looked puzzled for a moment, then flashed with fear. She touched the small gold cross at her throat. That was new.
“No, I’m sorry, I’m not the person you’re looking for. Let me find someone who can help you.”
I waited at the counter for ten minutes before I left the store.