We pull into the mall and park. Kara leads me to some of her favorite department stores. As we walk around the shopping center, I can’t help but think about what Kara said. I mean, she’s kinda right. But I think the break up with Cal just really made me think about my life.
I work for a call center. My associate degree helped get me a, well not cushy, but not super terrible position. It paid well enough to more than live. I could survive and do the things I found fun on it. But it doesn’t feel fulfilling. I considered going back to college, but I don’t know what I’d study. I don’t know what I want to do.
When Cal broke up with me, I realized I don’t seem to be going anywhere. And I don’t know what to do.
I dread this experience. As Kara and I move through the different department stores, I can’t help but wonder who wears this stuff. I think that manikin was wearing four shirts? Oh god the perfume! Can’t breathe! Tell my Chris Evans I lo-
“Stop it Jules.” Kara had stopped in her tracks and is glaring at me.
“You’re judging everything in here.”
“I am doing no such thing.”
“You’re making your ‘I’m dying’ face.”
“I am not!” Wait. “I have an ‘I’m dying’ face?”
Kara makes the same face I was just making.
“Tell Ryan Gosling I love him!” she mocks.
“…It’s Chris Evans now.”
She rolls her eyes and grabs my arm.
“Come on, it’s not that bad. Here, how about this one?” She holds up a long sleeve, button up shirt.
“I dunno. Not sure how I look in green.”
“You’re literally wearing a green t-shirt right now.”
I look down and realize she’s right.
“Yeah, and you don’t like this shirt.”
“Good point. Better take these two as well!” She hands me the same shirt in red and blue and points toward the fitting rooms.
“Fine! I’ll try them on, but one day you’ll admit you don’t like this shirt!”
I begrudgingly try on the shirt and step out, modeling it for her.
“See! You look great!”
“This is too tight! I feel like I’m going to rip it if I move my arms up!”
“It’s the style. Here, how about this instead.” She hands me a dark teal with vertical stripes.
“A little ostentatious, don’t you think?”
“You could do with more ostentacity. Try it.”
“That’s not a word!”
“Try it on!”
I change and step back out. Looking over myself in the mirror, I have to admit, I like this one. The sleeves are even the right length for my arms, which is a difficult find.
“Wow! What a change of wardrobe can do!” Kara said in an over-the-top voice.
She was just being nice, but still. I actually felt a little confident in this shirt. I guess this one works.
Kara talks me into buying three shirts, in addition to the teal which she insists I wear out of the store. Despite my shirts not taking up much room, I notice I’m holding three bags as we leave.
“Um, what’s all this?”
“You took forever trying on shirts. I did some shopping in-between.”
“Ah, of course.”
“What? It’s not like you’re carrying too much.”
I look down at the bags again, then back to her.
Kara grins and abashedly says,
“We can stop by that new comic shop we saw on the way here?”
Good enough for me.
“Trade paperback,” I remind her, and quickly walk toward the car.
“Whatever you say!”
Kara drives quickly, probably wanting to get the experience over with. We pull into the parking lot and I look up at the shop sign.
In big letters, it says ‘Multiversity Comics and Games.’ Cute. I hadn’t heard about this store opening. I wonder where it came from.
We walk inside, the cool breeze of the air conditioning hitting us so gently. Layout was fairly familiar, similar enough to other comic shops, though noticeably devoid of customers. Comics and games were laid out across the store, different racks holding comics, games, figurines, and even t-shirts. I briefly contemplate how mad Kara would be if I bought one.
Behind the counter was the employee. He had dark skin, and his hair was long locs with red tips, pulled back into a ponytail. He is wearing a black shirt with an apron over it.
He waves as he greets us.
“Hi there! Welcome to Multiversity!” His voice is like liquid chocolate being poured over a strawberry.
“Hi!” I squeak. Good job, Jules.
Next to me Kara has her hand over her mouth, a small chuckle stuck in her throat.
The employee steps from behind the counter and approaches us. It felt like he was moving in slow motion, which would have been nice as I needed more time to think.
“So, what can I help you with today?” he asks, his words sincere.
“Comics!” I yell. Kara is all but rolling on the floor right now. The man in front of us looks confused.
“Um, are you okay?”
“Fine!” I’m yelling again. “Will be, I mean. We will be fine. I’m going to… comics.”
I speed walk away, trying to ignore my broken brain, hurrying to the back of the store. I quickly stick my nose in a rack of comics, trying to look preoccupied. Maybe if I concentrate hard enough, I can disappear forever.
“You okay there, sweetie?” Kara asks. She seems to have recovered from her laughing fit.
“Just peachy,” I reply.