You don’t see them come in.
It's a Thursday morning, and with all the highschool kids at school (aside from the few delinquents who would skip, who you could see going into the Wild Boar shop across the street from time to time. You don’t ever mind that they don’t come into your humble Mus Rattus store. You don’t want to deal with them.) there are next to no customers. Bored out of your mind, you’d been slumped on the checkout counter, one elbow bracing the arm that was holding your head up, and had been staring at the front door all day.
When the little bell over the door chimes, they’re already standing in the middle of the store. You don’t remember what they looked like walking up to the store, you don’t remember seeing them push the door open or walk in.
You stay still behind the counter, not moving, not yet. For now, you just watch.
They’re kids, and they look exhausted . These types of kids always do; the type whose feet don’t make a sound as they walk around the displays, who have more pins on their hip than a Tin Pin pro. They keep close to each other, just the two of them, shoulder to shoulder as they pick at the sleeves of shirts and whisper together like thieves with their heads bowed.
These kinds of kids always give you the creeps. There’s always a few of them every week who come in and buy accessories like their lives depend on it, and their hollow eyes and their thin smiles make you feel like you’re talking to ghosts.
You finally step out from behind the counter. The store is short-staffed today, so it’s up to you to both man the counter and meander the store looking for customers who need assistance, “Need any help?” You keep your tone cheery, with your hands non-threateningly behind your back and a bright smile on your face.
One of the kids glares at you from under the way his hair, messed up as if he’d been dragged through hell and back, falls haphazardly into his eyes. “No.” He says.
The other kid shoves the glaring one with their shoulder. Then they turn to you and smile as best they can. It looks like it's hurting them to smile like that. “We’re fine, just looking.”
Your eyes drift down. You see the way the smiling kid is gripping one of the more expensive Mus Rattus mascot plushies. Their hands tremble with tension in their tight grip around Mowzy’s soft belly.
You don’t want to get involved. Not with these kids, or with whatever has them looking like desperate, hunted animals. It's not your place to.
“Alright, well, let me know if you need anything though!” You say, like your job requires you to, as you retreat. You walk slowly back to the counter, making sure to keep an eye on the kids as subtly as you can the entire way.
You watch as the messy-haired glaring kid (no longer glaring, now looking impossibly sad and apologetic) takes the plushie from the other one’s hands, gentle as can be, and puts it back on the shelf. Mowzy sits there, left behind, as the kids move on, over to another rack of clothes.
The both of them end up buying two plain t-shirts (one with a cute tiny mouse embroidered over the heart) and a pair of sneakers. None of these items are very expensive. The kids are completely silent while checking out, even the one who had tried to smile for you before, as they dig through their pockets for dented yen coins and come up with even more pins in their hands as well.
You stand there awkwardly and let them spill their money out on the counter, counting up to the price and then shoving the lot at you. You’re not even finished putting the yen into the cash register or printing out a receipt before the two are hurriedly making their way across the store to leave.
“Oh!” You raise your hand and wave goodbye, obligated to say, “Thank you, come again!”
You hear the bell over the door ring as they leave, but through the clean storefront window, you don’t see them walk away.
You know they won’t be coming again. Those kinds of kids never do.