Short Story Sunday-- June
A short science-fiction story.
It was her eyes that caught my attention. She had the most incredible green eyes, just one shade this side of being unnaturally too green. The skin on her face seemed to glow in the diffuse light, framed by auburn hair.
She was standing just inside a department store, smiling at people walking past her but obviously watching for someone.
It wasn't me. As I walked in, she gave me that same soft half-smile she'd given an elderly woman moments before, briefly making eye contact before her gaze flicked past me, scanning for somone in the open space behind me.
But in that moment I saw her eyes, and I could not go on.
I stepped to the side and stood by a display of sunglasses, waiting for a break in the stream of people approaching the store. Then I walked up beside her and cleared my throat. "Excuse me..."
She turned and gave me a very professional smile. "Yes, sir, may I help you?"
Oh. She worked there. I'm not stupid, but sometimes I'm a bit slow. Nevertheless, I went ahead with the line I'd thought up while pretending to look at sunglasses. It was a terrible line, but it was the only one I had.
"Sorry, I just wanted to say hello. You looked, uh, lonely."
She stared at me for a moment then laughed and shook her head. "No. I'm just watching for women between the ages of 25 and 32 so I can tell them about our spa services."
I nodded, and looked out into the mall. The concourse was decorated for spring like a Sequoia forest, with wide-spaced tree trunks separated by unnaturally smooth ground imaged over the mall's actual floor. The solidographic trees appeared to rise hundreds of feet into a blue sky, although the mall's ceiling was surely not more than fifty feet up.
"I don't see any coming," I said. "Can you talk to me instead?"
"Yes, sir, how may I help you?"
Hmm. Starting over, were we?
"Well, what's your name?"
She gave me a more realistic smile, apparently accepting that I was not there to learn about the spa services. "You can call me June."
I offered a hand. "I'm Mark."
Her grip was very soft, but pleasantly warm and not rushed. "I'm pleased to meet you."
"Likewise," I began, but then her eyes flicked past me and that professional smile came back. She nodded briefly to me and stepped away, intercepting a well-dressed woman who was walking toward the store.
I waited at the side of the store entrance while June made her pitch. She was very good at it. Eventually she turned and pointed up into the store's atrium, apparently indicating where the spa was located, and the woman walked toward the escalators.
June scanned the forest clearing just outside the store, and seeing no one from her target group, returned, smiling the way I preferred, her pretty green eyes sparkling.
Suddenly I couldn't wait through the usual small talk. "Listen, June, when do you get off duty here?"
She stopped smiling for a moment, giving me a frank appraisal. "I'm booked through the end of the month, of course."
I nodded quickly. "Sure, I understand. June, right. But after that?"
She shook her head. "Nothing, after that."
"Well, my company needs a spokesperson for the Web interface, trade shows, that sort of thing. We're a color-science company. You'd be perfect."
Her head tilted a bit. "Compensation?"
"We're well funded. IPO next year. I think we can work something out. And we can host you on anything you need."
She paused, giving me another appraising look. "All right. Let's talk. But for now, I need to get back to work."
We traded contact information and I walked into the store. Our company didn't really need a full-time spokesperson, but marketing decisions were up to me. A new face was just what we needed. Our customers couldn't help but see the value of good color... with those eyes.