One day Bailey asked me to accompany her shopping after our shift officially ended. Why? Well, she never told me. We are not only going to the Beattie’s Heart Shopping Centre, but we are also going to explore the surrounding area.
We were riding on the subway, both wearing our business attire. The car that we are riding has a lot of people, so we are standing.
“Hey Ren, thanks for coming with me.”
“You usually spend additional hours at work, so you probably aren’t busy, right?”
I nodded again. She was not wrong. I can go home right when the shift ends, but I usually leave two hours after that. And I don't really have much going on at home that I need to attend to — I can tend to Camryn, but she is working at Alente Bistro today.
After a few minutes, after arriving at a stop, some passengers got off. Not a lot of people got onto the subway, so some seats were vacant. Some other standing passengers filled those seats, but a single seat was free in front of us.
I turned to Bailey and gestured towards the free seat.
“Bailey, do you want to sit?”
Bailey looked like she was already inching towards the seat. When I asked her, she stopped and turned to look at me in slight shock.
Maybe she did not hear?
“Oh, I asked if you wanted to sit, but it looks like you were already going to.”
“I see… Um, yeah…”
Bailey stared at me and squinted her eyes in puzzlement. Well, we have been standing for about ten minutes, so of course, someone would want to take a break.
After a while, we arrived at the Beattie’s Heart Shopping Centre. Bailey led me throughout the mall and to a clothing store with various types of clothing. The size of the store was not large like Univear or the department store, but it was not the small typical size of other stores here.
While looking through a circular rack with tops hung on clothes hangers, Bailey pulled one out.
“Oh, this one’s cute…”
It was a mainly blue and pink blouse with flower designs on it. Bailey put it up to her chest and turned to face me.
“So Ren, what do you think? It suits me, yeah?”
What I think, eh? Um… It is a blouse… It fits her… It is… blue and pink… What else can I say?.. She is asking for my opinion, huh? But… I don't really have one. Should I just agree with what she said?”
“Huh? Oh, y-yeah… It looks cute on you…”
When I declared that, Bailey looked at me again with the same look she gave me on the subway — squinting in puzzlement.
“Oh, sorry, I said it looks-”
Bailey briskly slapped me on the back of my head. The hit was hard, but I was not really bothered by it — it never did, and she also does it often.
“S-Shut up, idiot! Yeah, I heard you!”
She quickly turned from me and hung the blouse over her crossed arms. She was crossing them tightly and lowered her head.
“Hmph! Whatever, it’s not like I let your decisions influence the things I buy!..”
Hm? Is she mad? Well, whenever she acts like this, she usually says that she is not mad… And at that moment, was I sensing that she was a bit bashful? Well, she was acting angry, but her body language hinted at her being coy. Hm…
We were walking through the mall, and Bailey was holding the bag of clothes she bought.
While I walked beside her, I turned.
“Bailey, would you like me to hold that?”
Oh, is there something wrong with her ears today? Well, there are a lot of people here, so it can be sort of hard to hear.
“Oh, I asked if-”
“Ren, I’m not freaking deaf! Idiot!”
She sharply turned her head from me and quickly shoved the bag towards me.
“F-Fine! If you want to hold it, then fine… Oh, and, um… T-Thanks…”
Despite seeming angry and being assertive, she turned a little timid.
I took the bag.
After a while of shopping, we decided to eat at the food court — earlier, I texted Camryn that I would not be eating dinner at home. We were seated at a table for two people, and we both had food from the same restaurant.
While eating, Bailey started a conversation with me.
“Hey Ren, how are you holding up?”
I looked up at her.
“With this shopping trip, I mean. I’ve been dragging you through this huge mall, so you’re probably tired, right?”
I shook my head.
A small moment of silence fell between us.
“U-Um… T-Thanks for your concern…”
Bailey opened her eyes at me. She was not completely surprised, but just caught slightly off guard.
“Huh? O-Oh, yeah… Whatever…”
More silence fell between us.
I should continue this conversation, right? But what should I say? Ask a question? About what? Hm… We have been acquainted with each other since high school, so there are a lot of experiences we have in common. However… I am not sure I have enough knowledge about those topics to sufficiently continue a conversation about them — I guess I had little interest in them…
I started to stroke my chin.
“Um… It sure is hot outside, right?”
Bailey looked at me with the same expression that I became familiar with — puzzlement and shock. However, there was a slight display of disgust.
Oh, did you not like that? Well, sorry about that — it is a rather dull topic, right?.. But seriously, that was all I could think of — I do not have sufficient knowledge of things that may interest you. I do not think we share the same interests, so of course, I won’t spend time learning about them… But regardless, I am really sorry…
I put my hands down and looked up.
“Yeah, it sure is getting hotter out there. It’s summer, so I guess we should expect it…”
And so, our conversations continued. Bailey spoke as if she were disinterested in the topics, but I couldn't help but feel the opposite…
On the way upstairs, we were walking past a store that Camryn and I bought from when we visited.
“Authen-Berry… Hey Bailey, do you want some?”
Bailey was ahead and stopped walking. She went towards me while caressing the back of her neck.
“Authen-Berry? Um… Sure, yeah, I guess I’ll get some…”
She sounded surprised at first.
“Okay. I will order, what would you like?”
She shook her head.
“What!? No, I’ll pay for myself…”
I tilted my head.
“Really? No, I insist — I will pay.”
“Stop! Ren, our salaries are the same, so I can afford my own…”
“I know that our salaries are similar, but I insist. Really, this is not a big loss or hassle for me.”
Bailey sighed deeply at me and shook her head while putting her hand on her forehead.
“Wha- What are you saying?! You know, I can afford my own stuff, thank you! So stop!”
What? Why was she resisting so strongly? This is a polite gesture to buy things for others, right? But since she seems annoyed by my tenacity, I guess I should stop…
Bailey started walking towards the store while I stayed in that spot. After a few seconds, she turned to me.
“Hey, why aren’t you coming?”
I raised an eyebrow.
“You’re the one who suggested it to me, so aren’t you getting something?”
I shook my head.
“Oh, I didn't really plan on getting anything… I was mainly asking if you wanted to get.”
“Oh, what the hell, man!?”
She ran back to me and slapped the back of my head.
“I don’t want to be the only one getting something!”
“Oh? I-I hear the drinks sold here are good…”
“What!? Hell yeah, they are!”
“If you like them, you should get them.”
“Yeah, but… Um… It’s like… I-I can’t because… Um…”
She slapped the back of my head again. She’s usually is not angry when she does this, but this time, she seems to be.
“You know, just forget it!”
She started walking back towards the shop. I saw that the servers behind the main counter were smiling sincerely at us.
“I’ll just buy something for you! Everyone likes chocolate, so I’ll get you a chocolate milk tea…”
“O-Oh, that is not necessary.”
“Shut up, it is…”
She quickly turned around to face me. Her face looks a bit red — is she tired because of the shopping trip.
“Wait, no, it is not necessary. But, I’ll just get it anyway…”
“Oh, then I will reimburse you-”
“No, keep your money! I-I, um, I’ll pay — m-my treat…”
Bailey quickly turned around and walked towards the counter — her walking seemed off to me.
So I am getting chocolate milk tea… It is not that I dislike that flavour, I am actually okay with chocolate. But since someone else is getting it for me, I should enjoy it...