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TITLE: "Lucky Girl" (1/1)
AUTHOR: Marie-Claude Danis
FEEDBACK: Delicious.

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For a moment there I'm worried he'll be late, but then I look up and there he is, like clockwork, every Wednesday, walking through the door in his expensive coat and a beaten briefcase. I observe his path, which in six months hasn't changed an inch.

Watches. Men's, then women's. Gold chains. Pearls, silver. All peered at absently, tall lanky body slightly hunched over the glass cases. But he's distracted. When he leans forward, he holds his briefcase behind his back with both hands, and that makes him look like a schoolboy. He glances over the crystals casually, more and more distracted as he nears his destination. Then his path inevitably winds down in front of my counter, where I pretend, just for a minute, that I'm busy doing something else. Then he smiles at me, and today his eyes look particularly weary. But they always, always have that sparkle.

"Good evening, sir."

"Hey," he greets warmly, gaze immediately dropping down to the display of engagement rings between us. And we fall into our regular routine.

"Looking for anything in particular tonight?"

He doesn't answer right away, always leaves a few ambiguous seconds between my question and his vague answer.

"Nah, just looking..."

And he really is. He knows them by heart. He points it out when there's one missing. There's always a twinge of something in his voice when he asks about it. And me, every time I sell one to someone that isn't him, I worry that maybe it's the one he had picked out in his mind, maybe it's the one he would get next time around.

Sometimes, just sometimes, he asks if I can take one out, if he can hold it. A few times in a row it was the same one, a beautiful solitaire on a platinum band. Then the fourth time he picked out a different one, a 2 carat stone with two smaller half carat ones flanking it on a delicate gold band. Then he doesn't ask for weeks at a stretch. Then he does again and it's a completely different ring. For such a creature of habit, he's surprisingly unpredictable.

I wonder about him, but not too much. He's a common DC type; politician, most likely. Probably not very powerful. In his late thirties, Jewish, Democrat, smart as hell. His tie is always loose and his hair a little disheveled. Very handsome, if you like the bone-tired type.

And then I can't help but wonder about the girl. He's obviously mad about her, and his indecision doesn't lessen that impression. I don't know why he always puts the rings back, why he never asks about prices. But I can see it somewhere in the way he stands, in how his shoulders slouch a bit, that it's a hard decision, one he reconsiders every Wednesday, only to come to the same conclusion. But there's something hopeful in his smile every time he leaves.


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