Chapter 27:

Beattie’s Heart Shopping Centre

New Leaf!

“Wha- Ren? Wha… what are… y… you doing here?”Bookmark here

I was currently standing on the subway platform when Bailey suddenly appeared next to me and grabbed my arm. She seemed to be out of breath. Bookmark here

“Hello Bailey, I am currently going home.”Bookmark here

She took a bottle from her bag and drank from it for a few seconds.Bookmark here

“Gah, that’s good. Oh, wait, home!?”Bookmark here

When she said this, she seemed a bit surprised. Bookmark here

“Yeah.”Bookmark here

“Yeah… but you don’t usually go home at quitting time, right? I mean, you usually go home after about two hours — usually around… 5:00… What’s up?”Bookmark here

I nodded.Bookmark here

“That is true… However, I have plans this time.”Bookmark here

“I… see…”Bookmark here

It is true that usually, I stay at work for about two hours after work ends. But since I made plans to go to the Beattie’s Heart Shopping Centre with Camryn, I decided to leave at the official end of the workday. Speaking of the end of the workday, it would usually be at 5:00, right? Well, Comeffecient actually gives different options for shifts — 9:00 to 5:00, 8:00 to 4:00, 7:00 to 3:00, and so on and so forth. I chose to work 7:00 to 3:00 shifts. It requires that I wake up early, but I am okay with it — I wake up early anyway. Bailey chose the same hours that I chose. Bookmark here

And what do I do at work for two additional hours? Nothing unusual — just additional work. My boss offered that I will be paid overtime because of this, but I declined — it’s not a hardship to me. And… I think there is another reason... But it did not make any sense to me. It was… a reason relating to that feeling — the feeling that made me decide to eat alone outside — the feeling that I was a burden to someone… Because of that feeling, I decided to leave when workdays usually end, a time where I blend in with the large crowd of strangers.Bookmark here

As I waited, Bailey was slouching as she was taking deep breaths and breathing heavily. Did she run? Why is she out of breath?Bookmark here

“A-Are you okay, Bailey? You’re out of breath.”Bookmark here

She suddenly stood up straight and turned her body towards me. Her disbelief was greater than it was when she first saw me.Bookmark here

“Huh!? What!?”Bookmark here

“Are you o-”Bookmark here

“Shush! Yeah, I heard what you said!” I mean… um… w-why… um… Gah, never mind!”Bookmark here

She smacked me on the back of my head and crossed her arms.Bookmark here

“Those damn deadbeats at work were giving me a hard time and were making me late for my train! I had to run all the way here… and in high heels!”Bookmark here

She sighed angrily.Bookmark here

She seems distressed. Hm… What should I say in this situation? Bookmark here

“R-Really? D-Don’t-”Bookmark here

I was interrupted when a huge gust of wind hit us. It was another subway.Bookmark here

“Gah! Sorry, Ren, this train’s mine. Blame those idiots for the short time we had together!”Bookmark here

Bailey drank some more water and readied herself as the train came to a stop.Bookmark here

“K, see ya, Ren!”Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah, goodbye…”Bookmark here

Camryn’s POV:Bookmark here

Ren came home earlier than usual. He came home at 3:00, but he usually returns at around 5:00. Did he come back early? Wait no, he said that we’d go shopping after his work ends. Hm… I guess he came back early — aw, how sweet!Bookmark here

Right now, I was wearing my usual black hoodie and pants, Ren was wearing a business suit, and we were leaving a subway platform. Shortly after passing the ticket gates, a set of doors led to an underground-looking area with stairs going down. Bookmark here

“Is this the mall?”Bookmark here

“Yeah. But we aren’t in the main area yet. We should go there first.”Bookmark here

“Okay.”Bookmark here

A mall with a connected subway station? That’s handy.Bookmark here

We didn’t go down the stairs, but instead, we went down a corridor on our right. This corridor led to a couple of more stores that looked good, but we didn’t visit any of them. Bookmark here

Bookmark here

“Oh my gosh!”Bookmark here

After passing through some different stores — including one that sold electronics and a huge two-story store that sold clothes — ascending one escalator and passing through a luxurious-looking department store, we finally arrived at the main area. Bookmark here

The trek to this area… was worth it! I ran up to some glass railings next to a set of escalators to truly awe at the sight.Bookmark here

I let out a small laugh in delight.Bookmark here

“Ren, what is this place!?”Bookmark here

“This is the Beattie’s Heart Shopping Centre.”Bookmark here

From what I saw, this mall… was huge. This was just from my initial view, but this place seemed huge. Looking down, there seemed to be two floors under us. But that wasn’t all. Raising my head, there seemed to be some floors above us. They weren’t directly above us, but on the sides above us were windows with more rooms on the other sides. Why are they on the side? I don’t know, but it made this central hub area seem open. I mean, the ceiling was way above us. The ceiling was also made of glass, so it added to the openness effect of this place.Bookmark here

“Woah… This place must be huge!”Bookmark here

Ren walked beside me and I looked at him in excitement.Bookmark here

“I mean, there are two floors below us and a couple more above!”Bookmark here

But Ren shook his head.
“Yeah, it’s impressive. But only those lower floors are a part of this mall.”Bookmark here

“Hm?”Bookmark here

“Well, this place functions both as a mall and a complex of offices. Those additional rooms you see above us are offices.”Bookmark here

“I see…”Bookmark here

I was a little bummed, but there’s no doubt that this place is still huge.Bookmark here

“Office… You work in an office, right? Do you work in this awesome place?”Bookmark here

I got excited.Bookmark here

“Oh, s-sorry but no. B-But, I have been here for work a couple of times before.”Bookmark here

“I see…”Bookmark here

I continued to look around — this mall was big, but that wasn’t the only thing that amazed me. There weren’t many people, but I guess that makes sense considering that it was a weekday. This mall had a sleek and cool grey and white aesthetic. There were also occasional spiral patterns on the floors that I thought looked cool. The levels each had different shops with glass walls displaying what they were selling; I mostly saw clothing shops, but I’m sure there’s more variety. This area had many stairs, escalators, and bridges that led to other parts of this area. There were also elevators that brought people to different levels, and I thought it was cool that the pulley system was visible. On the blank walls next to the offices were gigantic posters advertising different things — most notably, one that advertised a smartphone and one for a hospital. Fountains, comfy-looking seats, decorative plants… amazing!Bookmark here

“Wow…”Bookmark here

That was mostly the extent of my vocabulary at the moment.Bookmark here

“Beattie’s Heart… Hey Ren, why’s it called Beattie’s Heart?”Bookmark here

“Well, long ago, a man founded a chain of department stores and named them after his wife whose surname was Beattie. This mall was named after that department store chain.Bookmark here

“I see!”Bookmark here

Then these department stores must have been really significant to have a super-mega-mall named after them.Bookmark here

“Hey Ren, this mall is huge!”Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah. I believe it is the second-largest in the province.”Bookmark here

“Eh, really? I’d love to visit the largest someday!”Bookmark here

“Really? T-Then, I will, um, take you someday.”Bookmark here

Ren nodded hesitantly. He then cast his eyes downwards — are you ashamed of something?Bookmark here

“Perhaps I should not have taken you to this mall. I mean, we came here for you, right? Sorry, with the large array of available shops, you are probably overwhelmed. A-And you probably do not have a preferred store, right?”Bookmark here

I turned to Ren and shook my head in reassurance.Bookmark here

“Eh? N-No, please stop apologizing. I mean, you’re probably right since this mall is huge. B-But don’t worry. It’ll be tough, but I’ll decide on things to buy!”Bookmark here

“I see… Okay then.”Bookmark here

I nodded.Bookmark here

“Yeah… I’m in no way a savvy shopper, but I’ll find something I like! Oh yeah, you probably have knowledge about the stores here, right? Please assist me!”Bookmark here

I put my hands on Ren’s shoulders and showed a determined face.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I do not really shop here often, but I have some knowledge of the stores here…”Bookmark here

Mr Smartypants coming in clutch!Bookmark here

We walked away from the railings and towards an electronic screen.Bookmark here

What he said early is probably right. “You probably do not have a preferred store, right?” Yeah, I don’t really go clothes shopping — actually, I don’t remember the last time when I did. And because of that, I don’t think I have a type of clothing that I want over another, but we’ll see. Having preferences isn’t really good, right? For example, one time I found a plain tee-shirt with dirt stains on it. I think that if I listened to my preferences, I probably wouldn’t have taken this tee-shirt. Well, I’m glad I didn’t listen — any piece of clothing is valuable when you’re homeless…Bookmark here

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