Rachel turned in to the gas station and groaned at the price. It had jumped up six cents since the day before. It was like the lottery and she kept picking the wrong numbers. She closed the gas tank and looked at the dent. She didn’t feel like messing with that thing but she was only going to get busier moving in to fall.
The repair wouldn’t take long at all and then she could go get a nap at mom’s house. She scrolled through the contact list on her cell phone until she saw Jeremy’s name. He answered on the second ring.
“Jeremy, this is Rachel. With the car.” She pulled in to the parking space next to the gas station.
“I wanted to go try to get this thing fixed since I’m off work today. I was wondering if you could give me the name and number of that body shop you like.” She was trying to mask her exhaustion with an overly happy voice.
“The one in Woodhaven?”
“Yes.” She started to look for something to write with. It would have been smart to have that ready when she called for a phone number.
“Here it is.” He gave her the number and the shop name. “Then mail the bill to the address on my card and I’ll get you paid back.”
“I will. Thanks.” She flipped the phone shut after he said goodbye and then called to see if the body shop had an appointment open for a small dent. Fifteen minutes later she was sitting in the corner of the repair shop’s lobby. She slumped down in a seat and closed her eyes. She wouldn’t fall asleep, no just a small rest from the noise and lights going on around her.
Her cell phone hummed against her hip. She glanced at it, Curtis.
“I called the office and they said you were sick. Are you okay?”
“Exhausted. I’ve had trouble sleeping the last few weeks.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Having a hard time adjusting to the new house?”
His voice was soothing. She fought to keep her voice from cracking into tears. “I’ve been under quite a bit of stress. I’m going to my parent’s later to try to rest at their house. Right now I’m getting a dent fixed on my car then I’m heading over there.”
“I’m going to come get you and take you to lunch.”
“You don’t have to do that.” She said it but the thought of his company was starting to appeal to her.
“No, I feel bad after dinner the other night. I want to make it up to you.”
“Okay, I guess you do owe me.”
He laughed. “Where are you at?”
“Smitty’s in Woodhaven.”
“Really, I know the owners. They’re great people.”
“That’s reassuring.” She looked around the three other dirty chairs that made up the waiting room. It had to be pretty difficult keeping a place clean when everyone there had their hands in oil and grease all day.
“I’ll be over there as soon as I can. How long is it going to take them to fix the car?”
“They told me it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to do but they have a few cars ahead of mine. I have to be back before five.”
“I won’t keep you that long. You need your rest but I would like a chance to see you again.”
She hung up the phone and walked in to the restroom which consisted of a toilet, sink and small mirror. A dried out air freshener in its white column couldn’t overpower a windowless bathroom that lacked ventilation and a roll of paper towels sat on the back of the sink.
She looked at her reflection in the mirror and groaned. When she drug herself out of bed to meet her mom she had barely bothered to clip her hair up. The mop of brown hair on top of her head resembled a fountain.
She dug around in her purse and pulled out her lipstick. She couldn’t tell in the dim yellow light if this was making things better or worse. She pulled her hair down out of the clip and tried fluffing it with her fingers. That was even worse. Her eyes were puffy from sleep deprivation.
“This is a lost cause.” She combed her hair back with her fingers and flipped it back up to the fountain hair-do.
He wanted to see her again.
Rachel put everything back in her purse and went out to the waiting room. When had everything changed? She had fun with Adam and Curtis at her parents house. He was like a friend of the family who was as comfortable talking business with her brother as she was the church calendar with her parents or Chinese food with Rachel. But somewhere along the line something changed and now he called because he wants to see her again.
She looked out the front window to see if his car was coming yet. The scariest thing was she wanted to see him again too. Despite their differences there was enough sameness in the two of them that she smiled more when he was around.
There was nothing that would have made her stop in a bar and talk to him, not that he’d ever step in to a bar. It was little things. Her mom told her when she used to cry about a boy at school not liking her that Rachel needed to look for little things.
Rach, honey, you can’t go lookin’ for some guy who’s handsome, or popular or any of that. You need to find a man who’s got the little things. Gentleness, genuine, respects you, those are the little loves that when they’re all together make the big love. You go looking for the big love without those other little loves then your love’ll die.
But she wasn’t talking about love here. No it was vulnerability. Her happiness could be affected by something as simple as lunch with Curtis now and she didn’t know when it happened.
You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.
Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
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This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.
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