Ren was lost, completely utterly lost. She didn’t think buying pads was going to be that hard, it shouldn’t have been hard, but now that she was alone in the very quiet grocery store at eight-thirty at night was she realizing how very hard it actually was.
The aisle was larger than she had expected, really, why were there so many pads? She picked up a medium sized package, the plastic crinkled under her fingers as she maneuvered it to read the labeling. These were supposed to be maxi, she squinted at the small clear part of the plastic…but they looked too small. She picked up the larger package from beside them, these also said maxi, but they looked to be the size of an adult diaper.
She set them down with a groan…and then the embarrassment of having to maybe ask one of the employees for help made the blood rush to her face. This really, really shouldn’t be that hard. There was no need for so many different types of pads; she backed up to look at the shelf above the one she had just been looking at. Were those flushable?
Ren had given up; she was about to buy the ones that looked to be about the size of an adult diaper…she’d rather have more pad than too little. With a sigh, shoulders slumping she reached for the package—
“Do you need help?”
Takaya wouldn’t say she’d been watching the girl, because that’d be weird and she really didn’t want to label herself a stalker, but she had been watching the girl.
Takaya had first noticed her because her purple sweater stuck out like a sore thumb in the gloomy grocery store, and even if she wasn’t wearing the giant puff of purple fabric, her hair would have made her stick out anyway. The frizzy mess of loose strawberry blonde curls stuck up from their place on the back of her head…the messy ponytail doing nothing to keep the bangs from her face.
Takaya watched the girl move quickly, her head looking every which way. There was no reason to be so nervous, unless the girl had a grand scheme to steal something, than Takaya would have an excuse for watching her—and an excuse to tackle her to the ground—but it seemed that wasn’t the case when she saw the girl enter the sanitary aisle.
Takaya watched the girl for a while, only looking away to help an elderly lady check out. After helping another woman check out did Takaya decide the girl in the sanitary aisle was taking way too long, but when Takaya made her way over to the aisle did, she realize why.
The girl was red all the way up to the tip of her ears—Takaya would say she was "blushing loudly"—her bottom lip worried between her teeth as she looked hopelessly at the rows of packages. Takaya held in a laugh, really, it was a funny sight. She’d never seen anyone struggle while buying pads, even the boyfriends Takaya would see very awkwardly duck their heads into the aisle would come out seconds later cradling a package of tampons and pads against their chests like they were trying to hide the labeling.
She sure as hell better get a raise for this, “Do you need help?”
Ren jumped back, her face growing even hotter as she turned to face the employee. The girl in front of her looked tired, her skin tan and lips in a tight frown that could almost be mistaken as a smile from far away, almost.
Her hair was short and spike up and the name tag—Takaya—was crooked on her red uniform shirt. Takaya opened her mouth to speak again, but Ren cut in embarrassment hot.
“N-no, I—” Ren took a deep breath, voice falling into a whisper, “I’m okay.”
Takaya’s lips seemed to droop even more, she sighed. “Look, I’m not here to judge. So just tell me what type of pads you’re looking for and I can get you some.”
Ren knotted her fingers together, twisting as she nervously swayed. Takaya seemed to grow more annoyed with every passing second, but she made no move to go away.
“J-just the…normal kind.” Ren looked down, growing even more embarrassed. How was she supposed to know what type she wanted? What even were the types?
The answer seemed to do just fine for Takaya, who nodded moving towards the shelves of pads next to her. She pointed at a package on the top shelf, “These are maxi, you know the normal kind.” She pointed at the package next to it, “These are the same thing, but these have wings. You know what wings are, right?”
Takaya pointed at the package next to the ones with wings, “And these are the same thing, with wings, but instead they’re scented. So if you want your vagina to smell like flowers get these, except in my opinion it smells even worse than just blood because now it’s a mix of flowers and blood.” Takaya ended her sentence with a smile, a very fake smile at that and Ren nodded moving forward to grab the package in the middle of the other two.
Takaya moved back when the sleeve of Ren’s sweater hit her arm, nodding proudly at Ren’s choice, “Good choice.”
“Now do you need help choosing the best chocolate for your period or is that all?”
“Do you not eat chocolate on your period, or—”
Ren shook her head.
Takaya’s mouth fell open in mock horror, placing both hands on her chest in surprise.
“Do you like orange flavored things?”
Ren nodded, she didn’t know what to say, but orange chocolate was good.
“Wait right here.” And then Takaya was gone, rushing out of the aisle and towards the other side of the store.
Ren did wait, awkwardly but she waited; package of pads held tightly to her chest. Takaya appeared a couple seconds later, smile more real than before with two small bars of orange flavored chocolate.
“It helps with cramps, cause orange and dark chocolate help with cramps.” Takaya handed them to Ren, she seemed a bit more awkward and maybe just a little bit as nervous as Ren felt than when she had first appeared to help Ren.
Ren took the two bars of chocolate from Takaya nervously, nodding her head in thanks, “Th-a-a-a—”
Takaya cut her off when her stuttering went on for too long, the embarrassment hot on Ren’s face. “If you follow me, I can check you out.” Takaya’s own face grew to a different color when she seemed to realize how weird the words she had just said sounded, but Ren nodded anyway.
Takaya brought the girl back to her cash register, taking the package of pads and two bars of chocolate from the girl, whose face was even brighter red in the brighter lights of the unshaded grocery store.
Takaya decided she’d pay for the two bars of chocolate, because she did add that to the girl’s cart. After inputting a couple numbers the drawer to the cash register opened with a ding, and Takaya fished out a couple dollars. The girl seemed unaware of what Takaya was doing as she fiddled with her wallet.
Takaya closed the cash register drawer, “Debit or credit…or cash?”
The girl in front of her, pulled out a— “D-debit.” card. Takaya nodded towards the screen in front of her, the girl took that as an invitation to press the card into the chip scanner. They both waited awkwardly for it to beep, and when it did the girl quickly removed the card.
“Sign on that line.”
The girl did just that, and the signature that appeared on the screen in front of Takaya was…. cute? It was messy, but Takaya couldn’t blame her, signing a tablet was hard. The only legible part was the name Ren while the name after it was a mess of squiggly lines. “Cute name.”
The girl’s —Ren’s— face grew an even brighter red. Takaya smiled softly at that and when the receipt printed, she made a very thoughtless decision to write her name and phone number on the empty part.
Now Takaya was not one to give her phone number out to strangers, but she felt like she had bonded with the very embarrassed girl in front of her when she helped her pick out pads and bought her chocolate.
Ren seemed to notice the name and numbers right away, the plastic bag of goods in her hand crinkling loudly as she looked from the receipt to Takaya.
Takaya smiled nervously, “Text me?”
Ren nodded, and Takaya swore her smile was brighter than the sun.