I didn’t get a chance to truly appreciate the exterior design of this store when I first saw it, but now that I can, it is interesting. From the exterior, I could tell that Univear was bigger than the majority of the stores here. One, there was a second floor with mannequins in the window displaying different outfits. Two, the entrance was wide open like at Authen-Berry Bubble Tea. Since there was no wall, it gave off the impression that this store was big. The entrance had more mannequins displaying outfits, and there was also a glass tube with — you guessed it — even more mannequins.
We walked in. It was… wow. This felt like a department store separate from the mall. I mean, the floors were wooden and completely different from the main material used for the mall’s floors. With the various shelves, racks, and tables with clothes, this place seemed huge. This place gave off a vibe that was totally different from the vibe that the rest of the mall gave.
“Hey Camryn, what are your measurements?”
“I’ll help you find clothes that would fit you.”
“Oh. Yeah, sure. They are…”
So, this was what I currently had. First, from that underwear place, I had two packs of plain coloured panties, each containing ten of them. I also had five bras. All of them had plain designs — they were the cheapest that I could find. Ren told me that I should buy more, but I assured him that I was content with the amount I had. Also, if I bought a great amount, I don’t think I would have anywhere to store them — all I had was my suitcase and that chair in my room to store things. Here from Univear, we didn’t buy any of this stuff yet so they were just in our basket. I had small amounts of things — a couple of pairs of socks, shirts, pants, shorts, and tee-shirts. It was summer right now so I didn’t have any winter or autumn stuff, but I had two sweaters.
Ren and I ascended the escalator to the second floor of this store. And the first thing that we saw was an area that was really different from the rest of the store. There were a couple of steps leading to this area, probably to signify its difference. Between each step were TV screens that, when looked at as one, played a cool pattern — and no, these TV screens weren't touchscreens. The floor was made of different materials and the ceiling and walls were reflective. There were also pillars with posters of cartoon characters.
This area intrigued me. As soon as I got off the escalator, I went to it.
“Woah, Ren, what is this place? It’s different.”
“Oh… This place is more for a younger demographic. The clothes here have more frivolous patterns and contain prints depicting different properties.”
So videogames, movies, TV shows, or cartoons?
I walked through this area and looked around.
I stopped when I noticed a particular hoodie. It was a pullover hoodie that was mostly blue. Right above the front pockets was the reason this hoodie caught my interest.
I unfolded the hoodie and held it up to Ren.
“Look Ren, it’s Mako!”
Above the pockets of this hoodie was a picture of a yellow cartoon creature that looked like a dessert. The creature was entirely made of whipped cream, and it looked like it was wearing a dress made of whipped cream. It also had ornaments in its hair that were strawberries. Mako was making a confused pose like a child, and that was so cute to me.
“Yeah, Mako! You see, Mako is a videogame character. Do you know the game franchise HAL Ally?”
“Yeah, I have heard of it but have not played it. They are RPGs where the protagonist goes on an adventure around a region befriending many different creatures, right? And the protagonist trains their companions so that they become a strong team, right?”
Huh? Wow, how does he know about this game?
“Wow, that’s correct. Well, Mako is one of the many creatures that you can befriend.”
I looked at the picture of Mako and smiled warmly.
“And Mako is my favourite out of all of them.”
Ren looked at me for a while. Is he thinking about something?
“Oh, sorry. You must really enjoy this game, right?”
I shook my head.
“Actually, I’ve never played any of the games in the franchise… I think I saw a commercial for the newest iteration on a TV once at a game store. There was also a poster showing most of the creatures and Mako was the one I liked the most.”
Honestly, I was a little embarrassed when I confessed that fact. I’ve never played a HAL Ally game, but I still love one of the characters. How can I have this much affection for a videogame character when I barely have an idea of the game it originates from? It was a bit odd…
“You must really like this character, right? Okay, we will buy this hoodie.”
I turned to face Ren with shock.
“G-Wait, Ren, we don’t have to.”
“Hm? It is not really a problem.”
“Oh, um… T-The other sweaters that we have are fine…”
I tried putting the sweater back on its shelf. I folded it, but of course, it didn’t look like how it did when I first saw it. How? Whenever I try to fold clothes, no matter how meticulously, it looks uneven and bad — even when I use a neat surface, it looks bad.
Ren nodded after a few seconds.
“Really, it is not a big problem. If you like this sweater, then we should buy it. I mean, you will get more use out of this sweater than the ones we already have, right?”
“T-True… B-But the price — this is more expensive! ”
“Price? The difference won’t affect much.”
It still felt odd buying this sweater. Ren insisted that the price did not matter, so that did not bother me as much. It’s just…
“I-I don’t know… I mean, can I enjoy this character and show off my interest in it without having a lot of knowledge on it?”
Ren raised his eyebrow.
“Oh? Well… Sure, I think you can.”
“B-But… I just think it’s wrong… I’ve never played a HAL Ally game.”
Ren shook his head.
“Um… Look, don’t let it bother you too much. You like this character strictly because of its design, right? Then you can like it for its design.”
“Sure, I think you would be more sentimental towards this character if you knew more about its background. But if you like it because of its design, then that is a good enough reason to like this character.”
Ren picked up the hoodie and placed it into the basket of clothes he was holding.
“I know that there can be people who are extreme in deciding who gets to like things based on certain criteria such as knowledge, but that is ill-advised.”
“Walk around this area and look for more things that you like. You can like them and should not take into account other people’s opinions.”
“Thank you so much!”
“Hm? For what? Regardless, you are welcome…”
After Ren’s lecture, I walked around this area. The only new thing that I picked up were two tee-shirts with different designs of Mako on it. Why only this character? Well, clothes with Mako were the only things that caught my eye at the moment. But why only two tee shirts? Well, since we were getting other clothes, getting more than what I picked up would be a bit excessive...
After shopping at Univear and buying our things, including the clothes with Mako on them, Ren suggested that we eat dinner. I was a bit hungry right now so I obliged. With a mall of this size, there’s no doubt that there would be a food court here.
We went back the way we came. We went down the escalator that was in front of the exit of the subway station and descended another set of escalators that were in front of those. And…
“Woah… Is this the food court? It’s huge!”
The food court was a big long area. The majority of this area had stools and tables and chairs for people to eat at. On the sides were many different fast-food restaurants selling different types of food — food that was Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Greek, Mexican, Indian, American, and so much more. There were also two joint restaurants in the middle, but they were both selling very different things — one sold desserts and the other sold burgers. In a central area was an opening showing the first main floor and there was another elevator that showed its pulley system. Occupying one half of a wall was not a restaurant… But a big sports store? Why is a sports store in a food court? I mean, it doesn’t fit — the messages of a sports store and fast-food restaurants kinda clash…
As I looked around in astonishment, we walked further in.
“Wow, Ren… There are so many restaurants here…”
I think Ren wanted to ask me something but I could sense that he was being a bit cautious.
“So… um… do you have a preference on what to eat?”
So that’s it… Yeah, his hesitance made sense. I mean, he knew that I was homeless so he probably thinks that I don’t have a preference. Hm… The topic of food can be a touchy subject with me… But it isn’t!
I wanted to reassure him, but he started talking.
“S-Sorry, you probably don’t have one, right? You trained yourself to not be picky so you do not have a preference, right?”
“I see… Instead of asking if you have any preferences, I will ask this instead: is there anything here that you would be interested in trying?”
“You probably haven’t eaten food from most of these places, right? Right now can be your first time. And don’t take price into consideration.”
I see… Okay, then I’ll choose something that looks delicious. I scouted the shops. Hm…
A couple of minutes of looking around have passed, and I have decided... decided that this is harder than it looks… Gah, everything just looks so good! I look at a restaurant and their food looks so appetizing. But I turn my head and see another one, and their food looks just as appetizing. Then I look at another, and their food looks even more appetizing!
“Gah, this is impossible! I mean, everything looks so delicious!”
“S-Sorry if you are being overwhelmed by choices again.”
“But keep in mind that we live in the same city as this mall.”
“You want to choose the best option because you do not want to waste this opportunity, right? Well, this is not the only opportunity you will have. We can always come back here again and you can pick the option that you missed out on.”
Oh… I never thought about it like this… Hm… I guess since I’m always on the move, I don’t usually have a second chance so I have to pick the most efficient choice… Wait, I think it’s true for my life in general too. When given an opportunity, I’m only given one chance so I have to weigh my options and pick the most efficient one.
“We can come back here in the future, huh? I see! Then I've made a decision.”
I felt proud — I didn't have to think too hard about this selection.
“Okay! Then I think we should eat at…”
As I was about to reveal my choice, I was interrupted. A friendly-looking man was walking towards us...