Shane would love to know why the new farmer kept hanging around JojaMart during his shifts and usually left without buying anything. It was the first of Fall, and, like many other days, the farmer walked in to JojaMart accompanied by the gliding sound of the automatic doors opening and shutting in their wake. They smiled at Shane before seemingly picking an aisle at random to wander down.
Well. He couldn’t even really call them new anymore. They’d been in Pelican Town for half a year now. But when nearly everyone else in town had lived there for their whole lives, new became relative.
Shane himself was one of those few exceptions. He had lived with his own parents for years before deciding he needed to try something different and came to live with his Aunt Marnie. Only a little while after that, they were joined by Jas.
Unfortunately, the move to live with family Shane actually liked hadn’t actually made him much happier. At least Pelican Town had a saloon.
Shane glanced up at one of the large Joja brand clocks on the wall. Speaking of the saloon, his shift was nearly over.
Right beside the clock on the wall there was one of many “Join us. Thrive” plaques. Shane snorted. His life hadn’t gotten any better because of Joja. If anything, it became more monotonous. Putting stock back onto shelves for eight hours a day was not the most entertaining thing Shane could think of, but it payed the rent. Still though, what a dead-end job to be stuck in, especially in such a small town.
“Um. Hi Shane.” It was phrased almost like a question. Breaking out of his internal diatribe, Shane looked up to see the farmer smiling awkwardly at him.
Shane plastered on a corporate mandated smile. “Hello, welcome to JojaMart. Can I be of assistance?” He hated saying that in such a fake voice.
“No. Wait. I mean yes. Okay.” Shane dropped the smile and just stared blankly at the farmer. It wasn’t like they hadn’t interacted outside of Joja before. Just a few weeks ago, they’d shared drinks in the forest. It stood out in Shane’s mind as one of the few bright moments in recent memory.
The farmer took a deep breath. “Please don’t tell anyone about this.” Now Shane was mildly intrigued. What could the innocent seeming farmer need to hide? “Where do you guys have seeds?”
“What?” Shane must have misheard them. There was no way that the farmer, who spent so much time in Joja just browsing, could not know which aisle the seeds were kept in. Besides, Shane thought out loud, “Don’t you only get that stuff from Pierre’s?”
The farmer turned bright red. “You noticed that? Yeah, but it’s Wednesday. And I really want to get some new stuff planted this evening.”
“So you came over to the dark side and decided to shop here.”
“Only this once!” The farmer was still blushing, but their indignant expression only made Shane laugh a little. He realized what he was doing and stopped with a light red tinge on his own cheeks. When was the last time he had laughed with a near stranger?
Then Shane surprised himself a second time. “Here. I’ll show you.” He started walking towards the agriculture section without checking to see if the farmer was following or moving the products he was supposed to be shelving out of the middle of the floor. The hurried footsteps behind him reassured Shane that the farmer was indeed trailing behind him. The metallic sound and quiet cursing told Shane that they had probably kicked or tripped over the cans he had left behind.
“Here,” Shane gestured towards a section towards the back of the store. “Take your pick.”
“No thanks, I’d rather pick them once their done growing. For now though, I’ll buy some grape starters.”
The farmer’s face was completely deadpan. Shane couldn’t help snorting at the awful pun and smiling a little. He tried to school his expression back into a plastic Joja approved smile. “Okay, fine. Will that be all?”
“No.” The farmer had gotten a little bolder seeing Shane laugh at their terrible sense of humour. “Will you be at the saloon tonight?”
“What else is there to do?”
“Oh. That’s fair. I’ll buy you a pizza? If you don’t mind if that is.” The farmer hurried to add.
Shane tried to stay calm. It was irrational that one person talking to him, wanting to spend time with him, would make him feel like panicking. Fighting back his fears, Shane replied, “Sure. Why not.”
After all, it had everything to do with the fact he lived in a small town and was bored. Going to the only place that serves beer was logical. Nothing at all to do with the cute farmer smiling at him.