“Hi, welcome to Colossus Theatre. Would you like to try one of our combos?” I say, robotically.
The girl on the other side of the counter twirls a lock of blonde hair around her index finger, pops her bubble gum, and says something that sounds remotely like pepperoni.
“That’ll be $4.50.”
I pull a pepperoni slice from the warmer and throw it on a cardboard Pizza Pizza tray.
“Enjoy your show.”
I look out across the empty foyer of the movie theatre. It’s Thursday morning in April, which automatically means that the theatre barely has any moviegoers.
I began working at Colossus Theatre a few months ago only on evenings and weekends, but now that I’m done my university exams, I have way too much free time on my hands. No one wants the morning shifts, so I take as many as I can get.
The concession stand in the middle of the foyer looks pathetic. Amar, Tina, and Rob are supposed to be manning the popcorn, but there’s no one in sight. This would be the part of the movie where tumbleweed might blow across the screen. I lean up off the counter and pivot on the greasy floor, about to head to the back of the Pizza Pizza unit where no one can see me checking my texts. I stop when I hear the heavy door of the treasury office swing open.
I lean back on the counter and try to look inconspicuous, while actually struggling to see exactly which treasurer is going to be crossing the foyer to the concession stand.
I hope it’s her.
Sam makes her way across the carpeted room. The pant legs of her black dress pants swing with the movement of her thin legs. She holds a purple pencil case in her right hand. On it, in permanent marker, is written “BILLS.” I know because I stared at it for most of yesterday’s shift. It was the only thing I could do to avoid her eyes and keep from blushing. Sam runs her left hand through her short black hair.
“Hot enough for ya?”
I jump back from the counter. My elbows feel raw from digging them into the plastic countertop. “You scared me!”
Tanya, my friend since high school, stands on the other side of the counter. She adjusts her Supervisor nametag. She’s worked here for three years and is the reason I got the job.
“You know, if you keep drooling like that, I’m going to have to bring the mop over here.”
“Ha ha. Very funny! I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Mhmm! You know she has a girlfriend, right? Unless she dumps her, you don’t really have much of a chance.”
“I know! It’s not like I would actually do anything. I’m not one to break people up.”
Tanya pulls her ginger hair through the hole at the back of her black baseball cap.
“Okaaaay, but I know you and when you want something … or someone, you manage to get them. Just be careful, okay? I’ve heard a few things around here.”
“I’m fine, mom! Just relax and grab that mop for my drool.” I wink.
After my shift I knock on the treasury door. Today is payday and no one’s come by to give me my pay stub. The door swings open.
“Oh hey, it’s you.” Sam says and smiles.
“Uhh … hey. It’s me. Just wanted to grab my paycheque.”
“Hmm, dunno where they are. You’ll have to wait for Brian. He said he’d be back in a few. You can wait in here if you want.” She says and holds the door open for me.
“Thanks.” I step into the small purple room and graze Sam’s arm.
I’ve never actually been in the treasury office. I’ve stood outside it and peered in and seen the single black swivel chair, long desk, and many cupboards and shelves piled high with pencil cases and cash register trays.
Tanya’s warned me about this office. Apparently it’s one of the few places that doesn’t have a camera. You’d think a treasury office would have one. In any case, managers tend to take advantage of that fact and bring their favourite employees in here for some afternoon delight between shifts.
“Sorry, only one chair.” Sam says and spins the black swivel chair in a circle.
“No worries, I can stand.” I lean back on the long wooden desk, which is also purple. Not one, but three cash register trays clatter to the ground. “Oops.” Grace has never been my strong suit.
I lean down to pick the trays off the carpeted floor. “Oh, I’m sorry.” I grab hold of one of the trays and feel Sam’s cold fingers over mine.
“No problem,” she chuckles still touching my hand. “Nice ring.” Sam moves her thumb across the smooth silver band on my middle finger.
“Your nails are short.”
“Sorry, it’s nothing, just that most girls like to keep their nails long. A little too long for my taste.”
“I’m not most girls, I guess.”
“No. Definitely not.” Sam grabs my hand tighter and pulls it toward her. She keeps her eyes on my nails.
Smash. The register trays slip from my sweaty hands again. “I’m sorry … again.” I drop down to pick up the trays. Sam tugs at her pant legs and bends down. She grabs one of the trays. I hold the other two.
“You okay?” Her warm breath is on my cheek this time. I can feel my cheeks burning. My face is on fire and butterflies are killing me on the inside.
“Ye…ye…yeah. Fine. I’m okay.”
Keys jingle and the door to the treasury office swings open.
“Whoa, Sam! Should have said you were going to have company! I’d have taken a longer time out there.” Brain winks.
Sam chuckles, stands up, and throws the register tray on the desk. It hits the desk with a loud clatter.
“Ummm …” I stand up and place the other two trays on the desk. “Hey Brian, I just wanted to grab my pay stub. Sam wasn’t sure where they were.”
“Didn’t know where they were? Sam, you put them in the drawer. Did you forget already?”
“Guess I must have.” She smirks.
I am so not going to be a part of this. I will not be responsible for a break up. I will not — Oh god, that smile. I imagine myself undoing the buttons on Sam’s burgundy dress shirt. I can’t imagine her as the type to wear any girly bras. Maybe something sporty.
“Kat? Hello? Here’s your pay cheque.” Brian hands me a white envelope. How long has he been holding it in front of me? “You okay over there?”
“Yeah. Fine. Thanks.”
I rush past Sam and Brian and pull the door open. I jet past the Pizza Pizza unit and slam open the squeaky side door; the exit to the trash bins that also doubles as the employee entrance and exit.
“What the hell is wrong with you?!” I scream at the top of my lungs. “You know you can’t have her!”
I turn around and see Sam standing by the door behind me. She must have followed me out. “Sorry, just wanted a smoke. Didn’t mean to intrude on your pep talk with yourself.”
“Uhhh … no one. I’m just, talking to myself about uhhh… stuff.”
“Alright. What are you doing now? I’m done in about 10 minutes and I was going to grab a coffee or something. Come with?”
“Sure.” What is wrong with you?! She has a girlfriend!
Okay, who cares if she has a girlfriend. Obviously not Sam. Sam doesn’t care if Sam has a girlfriend. Sam doesn’t care if her girlfriend calls while we’re out. Sam doesn’t care that her girlfriend is obviously jealous and knows something is going on. Why am I talking to myself like this? Get it together, Kat!
I tap my paper cup on the metal table outside Second Cup. Sam and I have been meeting almost every day, before work, after work, during work for the past year. Don’t misunderstand me. We’re just friends. Nothing other than an accidental graze of her arm has happened.
“Babe, I told you. I’m just at home. Watching TV. … Yes, of course I’m alone. Who else would be here?” Sam mutters in her husky voice into her cell phone. I watch the bubbles pop in the foam of my cappuccino.
“K. You too. … I mean, I love you too. … Yeah.” She snaps her phone shut. “Jeez! She’s always calling me! No trust.”
“Hey, you’ve never seen my new place! You should come up and have a look around.”
Sam recently got kicked out of her parents’ place. She wouldn’t tell me what happened, she just said, “it was bad” and left it at that. I offered her my futon, but she decided to sleep on another friend’s couch instead, which was probably wise. Last week, she moved into a condo with her brother.
“Umm … sure. Yeah, I guess I can come up for a bit.” I grab my paper cup and throw it into the trash. Half a cup of coffee splatters on the black garbage bag.
We turn the corner from Second Cup and walk to the entrance of Sam’s condo. Fifteen flights later, we survive a long, awkward elevator ride. This was a bad idea.
Sam takes me down a long hallway to a door at the end. “So this is it.” She slides a key into the lock.
The condo is small, but I wasn’t expecting anything bigger. The building itself was built last year and all the condos seem to be getting tinier and tinier these days.
“So this is the kitchen,” Sam says, pointing toward a short countertop, sink, stove, and refrigerator. “And this is the living room.” Sunlight streams in through a huge window and lights up the light wooden floors. The living room is empty except for a pair of Sam’s black work shoes.
“And this is my bedroom.” She points to an open door to my right. I walk into the small space.
A mattress lies on the floor, covered in disheveled sheets. Black, maroon, and navy dress shirts hang in an open closet.
I move across the room and look out the window to the street below. I look down at the people walking along the sidewalks, oblivious to my raging butterflies.
“Where’s your brother?”
“At work. He works long hours. Probably won’t be back until late.”
“Mmm,” I nod and stare out at Mississauga’s skyline.
I turn my gaze from the world outside to Sam. For the first time, her cheeks look flushed. I move away from the window and lean my back against the wall of her bedroom. I watch her move across the room toward me. Her red shirt hangs off her shoulders.
Sam lifts her arms and places her hands on the wall on either side of my head. She leans in close to me. For the millionth time, I feel her breath on my skin. This time it’s sweeter.
I imagine pulling her shirt up over her head and finding her small breasts beneath it. I imagine Sam running her fingers along the inside of my thigh, up under my dress, and ripping off my lacey underwear. I imagine her fingers sliding inside me.
My body throbs with ecstasy. Sam’s breath quickens. Or maybe that’s mine.
FOCUS! I snap my eyes open and see that Sam’s face is closer to mine than it’s ever been.
“Mmmmm,” I hear Sam’s hoarse voice in my ear.
“I think we should go back outside.”
“What?” Sam opens her eyes. Her nose grazes mine. “Why?”
“Because your girlfriend might call.”
I slip out from under her arm and head for the front door.