He entered the department store, one he hadn't been in for several months. He'd been in another state, you see, so he hadn't been in his home department store in ages. He probably hadn't even gone in before you left.
And now, here he stood, trying to find a Christmas gift for his girlfriend back in that other state. She simply refused to tell him what to buy.
"I don't need anything." She said.
"I'll like whatever you get me." She said.
How obnoxious can you get?
He knew better than to wander over to hardware. What about kitchenware? The shiny, non-stick pans beckoned him, and he knew that she wouldn't object to kitchenware in the way she might if they had been married for twenty years and buying her new kitchenware might be taken as an insult.
Still, for their first Christmas as a couple, it seemed impersonal.
What about a cookbook, then? They waved at him from the wooden bookshelves near the pots and pans. Hot chocolate! French pastries! 101 Things to Do to a Chicken! Perhaps one of those would be just perfect.
But, no, something about the fake grins of the chefs on the front covers turned him off of those gifts.
Why had he come to a department store? Alone? Right after Christmas?
Yeah, AFTER Christmas. He was home, away from her, with his family in his home state for the holidays, and he hadn't been able to shop with her around. When would he have had the time?
So, here he was, surrounded by screaming children, frantic mothers and anxious shoppers trying to grab whatever they could before the end of the sales. It wasn't as crowded as right before Christmas, but the atmosphere was different, more panicked than hurried.
He pushed his hand through his dark brown hair, sighed and walked toward the escalator.