I looked up from the computer when I heard the ruckus. A woman marched in, obviously angry. A boy around my age trailed after her with his head bent. She marched up to me and slammed down a pair of shoes. She started complaining and raising her voice at me by the minute. I looked desperately over at Janette, my manager, for help. She caught my eye and skipped over. She took my place at the counter and started apologizing profusely at the angry customer.
I caught the boy's eye, who seemed amused and embarrassed. "I told her that the other person in charge wouldn't be here today," he explained. "But she didn't listen..."
I racked my brain for who else could possibly work in customer service. "You mean Becca?"
The boy shrugged. "Maybe, I don't know. She was blonde and acted almost as stuck up as my mom."
I smiled ruefully. "Yeah, it was probably Becca." I held my hand out over the counter. "I'm Josh, by the way."
"Tyler." The boy's grip was very firm, despite how small and fragile he looked.
"Tyler, come on!" The woman snapped. Tyler and I broke our contact as he turned his head; his mom had walked to the exit.
Flustered, he turned back to me. "Oh-uh, I'll catch you later?" He ran away before waiting for me to reply.
"Sure...yeah..." I said sadly to myself.
Janette came up to me. "That your boyfriend?" She teased. I scoffed and pushed her shoulder with mine.
"No, you know I'm straight. I can admit that he is cute though."
Janette snickered. "Oh well. You're still my gay son."
She ruffled my hair and almost sauntered off. "Oh! Was his mom pissed at Becca?"
I nodded and she frowned. "Hmm. I'm gonna have to talk to her about that. Your boyfriend's mom may just be that way but I'm pretty sure Becca doesn't help with that. Anyway, get back to work. You're off in half an hour so give it all you've got, kiddo."
I saluted her. "Yes, ma'am."
"Josh, help me out real quick before you go?" My giant of a co-worker Dan asked. I shrugged into my coat as I told him that I would.
We went around to the back and to where the extra stock was. "There's supposed to be a new shipment of pillows somewhere..." Dan muttered.
My eyes landed on a box and I went over to it. "They're over here, Dan!"
Dan grinned and picked the box up. "Thanks, dude. Knew I could count on you. Okay, peasant, you are dismissed."
"I'm the king, excuse you," I sassed to him. "But no problem. See you tomorrow."
I spent the entire drive home thinking about Tyler. I was so submerged in my thoughts that I narrowly missed hitting what looked like a squirrel on 4650 East and Chez Street.
"Sorry, little guy!" I called out the window.
My small, peach house soon came into view. After I parked my Acura next to the silver Tesla, I took a few deep breaths. I wasn't really excited to go inside and be with Debby for the rest of the day.
Don't get me wrong, I loved Debby. Nothing bad had come between us. We've just drifted apart and realized that we didn't love each other nearly as much as we used to. We've decided that we would still be friends, but it was still a little awkward sharing the same house.
"Deb, I'm home," I called out when I did eventually walk through the door. She came around the corner, drying her hands with a dish towel.
"I'm moving out today," she announced, her voice strained. "It's only fair that-"
"You keep the house." I sighed. We've had this conversation a lot. Debby thought that I needed the house more than she did, even if she had more going for her. "I can find an-"
"Josh, you've put more work into this place than I have, and we both know it." she snapped. "And besides, I've already packed my stuff."
"So you're really leaving then?" I asked sadly. "That's that?"
Debby pursed her lips. "Yeah...I guess so. I've called a cab to come get me any moment now."
I nodded slowly. "Let me help you carry your bags out, then...?"
"Sure," she replied. "I'd like that."
The next hour was spent with me, Debby, the taxi driver and a U-Haul driver taking all her stuff to the two vehicles. Soon, Debby and I were standing by the taxi.
"Catch you later?" Debby asked a little hopefully. I nodded and pulled her into a quick hug.
She got into the cab and I watched both vehicles turn the corner; that moment was when I started feeling the loneliness.