Friday, August 23, 2013

Hands On: Chapter 2

Hello Everyone,

Thanks so much for your comments. They are very encouraging! Your feedback is really important to me.

But I know that some folks are a bit bothered by the male lead having the name of Madison. I kind of like the "older" names, but I did look it up and this is what I learned from Wikipedia: Madison is a popular unisex name in the U.S. but wasn't really used as a girl's name before 1985 after the movie "Splash" when the mermaid called herself Madison. Wikipedia also says that although the name has been popular for girls recently, that popularity is declining. I guess like anything, names are also subject to the fortunes of fashion. Anyway I hope that helps...And I hope you enjoy Chapter Two.  




Chapter Two 

For a week I teased—well tortured—myself with the hope that I would see Madison again, that he might forgo some of his online shopping for the brick and mortar experience, and me; even though there was absolutely no reason for him to do so. After all he had his new coffee maker; and being relatively ordinary-looking I wasn’t the I-can’t-forget-you type who inhabited male fantasies. Besides such storylines were the stuff of romance novels I now guiltily read in the privacy of my Kindle app on my smartphone, a luxury Ted allowed me to have via their Verizon family plan to facilitate my job-hunting.

Madison wasn’t exactly the dashing male hero either. Although I was constantly on the lookout for him, I wondered what it—whatever it might turn out to be—could be like with him. I knew people with disabilities and not only from my social work life. I made friends with all kinds of people. Vive la difference wasn’t just some marketing slogan for me, it was a moral imperative. I was interested in everybody which made me a very effective case manager when I got to do that. It wasn’t just a living. It was like my vocation. I was even beginning to think about doing it as a volunteer. I needed to keep my license current anyway. Of course friends was one thing, friends with benefits, well that would be a whole new adventure. What if I wasn’t up to it?

There must be a thousand big and little things that Madison couldn’t do or at least had to do differently. I didn’t know how to date a man like that. However, as the days passed with no sign of him anyway, I began to wonder if my doubts about Madison’s disability were merely the makings of a sour-grapes defense, the old it-probably-wouldn’t-have-worked-out-anyway ploy designed to ease the pain of rejection, or in my case the lack of follow-through.

Because there had been a connection. I was sure of it; and whatever the obvious challenges, it had been like I couldn’t let go. I was too old to believe in love at first sight. Lust maybe, although that sounded a little too tawdry. But whatever I ended up calling it, there had been that famously, mystical, magical oomph, and it had set my blood to flowing. It had been so vivid. Madison must have felt it too. But then again maybe he couldn’t feel his hands. Maybe he hadn’t perceived the heat that I had felt. I tried to remember, had his hand been warm in mine, or was I the sole and therefore sad source of passion?

In any case my vigilance was my secret, and I said not a word to coworkers, family, or friends. I told myself it was because it felt too special for break-room banter or girlfriend chatter. But probably it was because I just felt silly, and then pathetic when another whole day passed and all I had to show for it was unrequited whatever. Me and my coffee-maker crush. We hadn’t exchanged more than fifty words with hardly a hint of anything. His comment about missing out could have easily been about the good customer service he had received. What if the way I was remembering things was merely imagination-infused? Divorce may have left me battle-scarred but I wasn’t dead. And he had those miraculously powerful shoulders. His beautiful smile, his lovely golden brown eyes, all of this was package really. I knew absolutely nothing about the person. And he knew nothing about me.

And yet I was tempted to trade my hours with co-workers just so I could be sure to be at work around the time that Madison had appeared that fateful evening. But then precisely because it had been fate, I decided to keep to the schedule I had been assigned. Tinkering with my hours would be intervening with fate, trying to bend the Universe to my will, and I was probably way better off not relying on my own devices in these matters. After all I had set my cap for Derrick once upon a time, and I was literally still paying for it. I would do nothing but wait and que sera sera…

By the middle of the second week of waiting, hope was reconciling itself to resignation. A sense of loss was completely unfounded and I fought hard not to feel it. Besides, what could have been wasn’t nearly as depressing as what might have been. The little bird that was supposed to come back to you if it was yours had barely landed in my hand. It had never been mine.

Chandra, the floor supervisor tonight, had sent me to the shoe department. “It’s a mess,” she had said. “Straighten it up. I’ll be back to check.” Sometimes the hardest thing about working the floor was being supervised by someone years my junior which happened a lot. Chandra was by far the worst. It was like she enjoyed my failed investment in education. Too young to have either debt or regret, she could brag about going straight to work after high school, buying her own car, and having her own apartment, and then have me to point to as a don’t-let-this-happen-to-you example. And even if I wasn’t afraid of losing my job (store clerks were kind of a dime a dozen) given my current situation I was in no position to argue with her. Lay-off land was brutal.

So carrying an assortment of women’s, men’s and children’s shoes back and forth, reuniting pairs with their correct boxes, grimacing when I caught a whiff of left-over foot funk, I dutifully obeyed my supervisor’s orders. Girls ran the world, right? Women worked hard for the money. I spotted an errant black patent-pleather pump on the floor between two display racks and got down on my hands and knees and stretched my arm out to retrieve it.

“Thought you worked in kitchen appliances.”

 Madison! I jumped, banging the top of my head into a metal crossbar barely feeling it as I scrambled from between the racks, the black pump in hand. I saw his feet first, in Nikes, laced up. Then faded denim, a red Target basket sitting in his lap, and at last his face and the fantastic smile.

“Madison,” I said his name as if he were incredible and sat back on my heels. “Hi.”
“Hello,” he returned looking down at me.

 I felt kind of dizzy. But squatting? Really Paige? The man of your dreams finally reappears and you look like you’re about to pee in the woods? But I was scared I’d topple over if I moved. And this way I was looking up at him. I could see his Adam’s apple moving up and down in his throat. There was a five o’clock shadow dusting his chin and cheeks.

“Thought you did all your shopping online,” I tried to make a joke.

“New year,” replied Madison. “New things.” 

Now I was smiling so wide that I felt air hitting my gums. Praying for grace I stood up, thanking God for every yoga class I had ever taken.

“Well don’t tell me you’re looking for shoes,” I corralled my grin into a chuckle. “Not here.”

He smiled wryly.

 “What? No Consumer Reports best buy in your shoe department?”

“Not even close.”

“Too bad. I kinda like your store.”

“You must not get out much.”

Oh God—that was the wrong thing to say! It was like I had crammed the pleather pump right into my mouth. People with disabilities got out all the time. For god’s sake I had met him here. Should I apologize? Or would that be making too much of it? Madison just watched me twist in the wind.

“I mean to say…” I stumbled. “Not-not shopping that is…I mean if you-if you think you’d find quality shoes in…in a Target.”

The pump was wet from my perspiration and I wasn’t even wearing it.

“Aren’t they all made in some third-world sweat-shop anyway?” asked Madison.

He had social conscience too?

“Developing world,” I corrected him, smiling tentatively.

“If that makes you feel better,” he replied.

“That first place ranking stuff is kinda condescending. I mean some of the third world was really first if you think about it. Historically I mean.”

Okay this was not pick-up talk. Politics was always dangerous territory. At least the comment about getting out seemed to be going away on its own.       

“You’re right,” agreed Madison smiling again. “Coffee makers. Shoes. Human rights. Pretty impressive.”

“For a store clerk, you mean?” I said before I could stop myself.

“I didn’t say that, Paige,” he replied, his expression serious. “I said you’re impressive.”

I really did want him to ask me out, and desperately. Why then was I so determined to make that not likely? Did I need another two weeks of waiting time? Ted was always saying that I was the kind of person who blocked her blessings. “You’re a control freak,” he had told me. “Everybody’s not a case. They don’t want to be managed.” I wasn’t managing anything now. That was the problem.   

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I guess I sorta have a thing about that.”

Sighing I turned away and looked for the right place for the pump. Chandra really would be back to check, wicked step-sister that she was, and this was my job, not a rose garden scene in a fairytale.

“Tell you what,” Madison suggested, rolling towards me as I was tucking the pump into its box with its mate. “You let me buy you a cup of coffee, and I don’t tell the store manager that you’re trashing the merchandise.”

Stunned, I looked down at him. His smile was like a gift.

“I don’t get off for another half-hour,” I said restraining myself.

Madison glanced at his wrist watch.

“We’ll make it decaffeinated,” he replied.

“You’re all done with your shopping?”

All his basket contained was a package of coffee maker filters.

“I am,” he answered.

“You know the real secret to good coffee is the water,” I advised him, hoping I sounded cool.

“I have a water filter.”

He didn’t have to try. He was cool. He had what the teenagers were calling swag.

“You don’t mind waiting for me?” I asked.

“Not in the least,” he replied. “Do we have a deal?”  

“Yes,” I smiled and offered him my right hand to seal the agreement.

And to touch him again.

Madison placed his hand in mine once more, and I was a little beside myself with how glad I was for a reason to shake his hand. But then he placed his left hand on top of mine, surrounding my hand lightly with his curled fingers and calloused palms. The space between was warm and wonderful. Our eyes met, and his contact surged through me brilliantly. Sensations pulsed between my legs, pushed against the cotton-crotch lining of my panties. Feeling flushed, I forced myself to focus on keeping my feet flat against the hard white floor for its coolness, for its calmness. If Madison pulled me towards him, even slightly, then I would do something to cost me my job.

But he didn’t pull. He just held in place—steady and strong. It wasn’t for a long time, I’d recall afterwards, it only seemed eternal, and almost like a reunion. I was all liquid and lust, because I could not—would not—call it love. I didn’t know Madison, not even his last name, I just wanted to. I just wanted a lot. But we would have coffee, and we would talk, and if I was luckier than I had been then the way he was holding my hand he’d hold all of me. Slowly, softly Madison stroked the top of my hand with his left thumb, and this amazed me. I stared at his thumb, watching it move back and forth, the trimmed nail, the smooth knuckle caressing my skin. I met his eyes again and wanted to say thank-you.
“Meet you out front?” he asked.
I smiled and nodded.
He pressed his hands together around mine more tightly, let go, and then wheeled passed me. Not turning to watch him leave this time I settled for fretting with the display of shoes. Eventually I touched my right hand to my lips, breathing in the faint trace of his cologne.  


  1. WOW! That was incredible. I'm really enjoying these two vivid characters and their 'moment,' however brief.

  2. I love this story so much! I'm so excited!!

  3. Very we'll written. Can't wait to read more! :)

  4. Thank you very much for uniting Paige and Madisson! You've got a great story and I can't wait for the new part!

  5. Oh yes! More, soon, please!

  6. This made me sooo happy. I absolutely cannot wait to hear about their coffee date. Paige's awkwardness is awesome!

  7. OMG!!! Just the kind of story I love!!! Can't wait to see what's next!!! Sooo sweet!!!

  8. So excited about this story. Love Paige and Madison - can't wait to read more!