The Wink of a Lifetime

Submitted into Contest #166 in response to: Start your story with someone saying “I quit!” ... view prompt

14 comments

Creative Nonfiction Romance Drama

"I quit!" The words lingered on the tip of my tongue. My hands shook with fury as I slammed the register's cash drawer shut. I had been extremely clear with Steve when I accepted this job last week about how late I could work. Between college classes in the mornings and my job at the bank in the afternoons, my plate was overloaded.


Steve's scrawny figure stomped across the cold hard tile floor of the auto parts store as he bellowed demands. "Melanie, get out here and straighten this merchandise! Everyone will stay here tonight until this whole place is spotless. Corporate will be here at eight sharp in the morning."


Frustration boiled in my veins as I internally debated my options while I made my way down aisle three. I stared at the tile steaming with anger when a pair of large black shoes heading my direction, came into view. I shifted my gaze upward. A well built guy with impressive biceps filled my view. I glanced at his name tag. It read John. I continued to shift my eyes upward. He had sandy blond hair and a half sided grin. Our eyes locked just for a second and he winked. I tried to smile back, but I was positive it didn't appear very sincere. If I hadn't been so furious with Steve, I might have engaged with his flirting. Who was I kidding though? Between college and two jobs, there wasn't time for a guy in my life right now.


A million thoughts filled my mind as I continued my way down aisle three. Do I really need this job? I barely have time to study and sleep as it is. I'm not even sure why I'm working here anyway. I picked up a a pile of air fresheners scattered on the floor and began placing them back on the proper hooks.


"And Melanie, when you get done there," Steve's annoying demands sent my frustration level through the roof, "Do the same on aisles two and one."


I froze. I didn't like confrontation, but I had to speak up. I took a deep breath and tried to quiet the boiling rage running through my veins. "Steve, as I explained when I accepted this job," I said attempting to sound as dry and professional as I could manage, " I can't stay past ten. I have classes in the morning and my job at the bank in the afternoon."


"That sounds like your problem. Corporate will be here tomorrow morning. Everyone will stay until midnight, if that's what it takes to get this damn place cleaned up."


I dropped the remaining air fresheners I held into the floor and marched in silence towards the back room.


"What the hell do you think you're doing ?" Steve said with a raised voice as he followed me.


I stopped in my tracks and turned to look him in the eye. "I'm getting my things to go home. I've been very clear about the hours I'm available to work."


Steve's beady eyes glared into mine. "If you leave right now, you're fired."


"You can't fire me," I matched his raised voice as I swung around and sprinted to the back for my things, "Because I quit!"


Steve followed me in silence and watched as I grabbed my jacket and purse. When we reached the front doors, he unlatched it and firmly stated, "Don't come back here."


I hurried around the side of the metal building to my ninety-eighty-two Pontiac. I grabbed the handle, yanked the door open and plopped my butt on the vinyl covered seat. It was dark inside, much darker than it should have been. I glanced at the dome light above my head. The sagging roof liner nearly hid the fact that it hadn't turned on. Oh crap. I stuffed my key in the ignition and turned it quickly. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The battery was dead. No, no,.no, I thought. How can this be happening to me right now?


I need to call Dad. I studied my surroundings. The nearest pay phone must be a half mile away. It's really dark. A nineteen year old female probably shouldn't just walk down the highway alone. Besides even if I did, Dad would certainly kill me. I'd never hear the end of it from him. And who else would I call to rescue me anyway?


I took a deep breath. I'll have to go back inside the store and ask to use the phone. I'm not even sure Steve will let me inside. I slowly get out of the car. I just couldn't think of a better solution to this situation.


I stood outside the glass front doors staring inside. People were working, but no one appeared to be looking my way and Steve wasn't anywhere to be seen. I grabbed the door handle and pulled. Damn, it was locked. I balled my fist to knock but before I tapped on the glass, the same sandy haired muscle guy who had winked at me just moments ago, John, was headed towards the door with a ring of keys dangling from his index finger. He unlocked the door and cracked it open.


"So you decided not to quit?"


"Oh no, I definitely quit, but my car won't start...."


John grinned and said, "Give me a minute. I got you."


I strolled back to the car and waited for John's return. Five minutes later he pulled up beside me in a black step side Chevrolet truck. He jumped out of the truck with it still running and a set of battery cables in his hand. He lifted his hood and then lifted mine. It only took a few short moments before my car started right back up.


As he unhooked the cables, I thanked him.


"No problem. I didn't mind at all...but I do have a question," he said as he closed my hood.


"Sure, ask away," I answered.


"Would you go out with me Friday night?" He wasn't grinning. He looked a bit nervous.


"Of course," I answered, "That sounds like fun."


*******


Over the next thirty years, I had three boys and of course, various car problems, but John was always there to help me with the boys and the cars. Not only did I never quit another job in my life. I also never quit John. He never quit me either and he's still fixing my cars. One wink led to a lifetime of never quitting again.

October 02, 2022 21:58

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14 comments

Russ Hussain
19:01 Oct 13, 2022

Loved how it comes together and such a natural, fluent style.

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Melony Beard
00:29 Oct 14, 2022

Thank you so much!

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Tommy Goround
16:40 Oct 13, 2022

Clapping. Sorry, nothing to add. Good tension and conflict. Oh wait...it's too short. I mean the stories is clean...but it resolves too fast. 1) elongate opener..or 2) she actually starts walking toward phone, oddball problems happen... 3) stick the ending: mom finds herself...bad neighbors, flat tire, phoneless... Turns around and finds John's son has already brought out the tire jack. It's so elegantly simple that I want to remember this story in 10 years because it is beautiful.

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Melony Beard
00:30 Oct 14, 2022

I love your idea. Its actually a true story. Its how I met my husband. And I do have three sons, a bad neighbor and plenty of problems:) Thank you so much for reading.

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F.O. Morier
21:19 Oct 12, 2022

Steve is a real piece of XXX Recognizable and enjoyable! Great work!

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Melony Beard
00:33 Oct 14, 2022

Thank you so much. The story comes from a real life experience, not mine thank goodness but someone close. Thank you for reading it.

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Kate Winchester
01:45 Oct 11, 2022

I’m glad she stood up for herself, and quitting is always hard. but sometimes it’s the right thing to do. I loved John and how sweet the end was. Good job!

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Charlie Murphy
19:02 Oct 08, 2022

I felt her frustration towards Steve. Steve is a jerk! He made me mad! Great job and happy ending!

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Mary Lehnert
00:37 Oct 04, 2022

We’ve all been there. Congrats a very good read.

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Chana Marusa Gur
22:13 Oct 24, 2022

it's a wonderful story keep writing

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Graham Kinross
22:29 Oct 23, 2022

I’m glad she quit. Well done. Too many people stick it out and suffer. Too many employers and managers think they get to have people on call 24-7. If you’re not paid for it, then no.

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Mike Panasitti
18:39 Oct 14, 2022

Great story of limits and love.

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Laurea Ingao
18:16 Jan 08, 2023

wait I was too much invested in this 😭

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Melony Beard
18:23 Jan 08, 2023

Awe. Thanks so much for stopping by to read it!

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