The flight from Colorado to Salem, Massachusetts was just short enough. I don’t mind flying or heights as a god, but I hate feeling caged in. It is charming to see how far humans have reached to be more like the gods. Icarius would have been green with envy.
I arrived in the town of Salem, in a place some refer to as New England. Some call it the home of the Patriots, but I’ve learned you get a few dirty looks from people with a muffled “cheaters” sworn under their breath if you say it to the wrong person. From what I can gather, it seems loosely related to a man named Samuel Adams, though I don’t quite understand whether he is a seller of beer or tea. To be honest, I don’t understand the animosity, but when I’ve asked, it seems a bit trivial surround some battle dance with a ballooned pig skin in honor of their tea or beef deity, so I’ve learned to ignore this minor colloquialism.
I started my first day at a cute bookstore in Salem called Wicked Good Books, and was trained by Alex. Although it hasn’t gotten cold yet, he was sporting a hoodie, a pair of jeans, and boots he said were more fashion than function. He also showed off the deepest dimples I’d ever seen when he smiled. I’ve always enjoyed that in a smile, so after the first time I made him laugh because I wasn’t sure what a cash register was, I threw jokes out here and there to see if I could goad him into smiling again.
Some of my favorites were “Have you heard of Achilies, what a heel.” And “Why is Homer such a bad kisser? Because he’s dead.” And my personal favorite to follow-up with:
As the day progressed, people began to make their way in and out leisurely, perusing the books when I heard loud barking outside. Thinking fast, I leaned over to him and said, “Do you think we should call animal control?”
“No, why?” I smiled at him, knowing I had him right where I wanted him.
“Because Romulus and Remus are at it again and things could get ugly.” He burst into the most grotesque and abrupt laughter and for some short spurts, snorted like a pig, his dimples digging far into the trenches in a war with his pearled, toothy smile. He radiated and I felt myself glowing back at him.
He asked me if I had known any new releases, and I listed Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”, because that magnificent mortal loved her vegetables, and “The Last Unicorn” because Tiffany Haddish had gotten a snort or two out of me. I also told him that I had just started reading “Over the Top” by Jonathan van Ness because I enjoyed reading about people who struggled to be their authentic sexual selves. I had never experienced that obstacle, and wondered what my life would have been like if I had.
When I said this, his expression softened and he smiled again, this time not breaking eye contact. “That’s a gift, Pan, and I think it’s really cool that you care enough to try and understand other people’s experiences.”
I gave a bit of an acknowledging smirk. I could tell he was paying me a compliment, but that wasn’t really what I meant. I read it for the enjoyment of watching something unfold that makes no sense to me because it is the most entertaining. Being immortal has its drawbacks, no one has a healthy millenia of cynicism to filter me by.
A festival called Samhain was about to be in full swing, and Alex had so much more to teach me. As the days rolled closer to the festival, Alex got progressively more nervous around me. No less talkative, but fidgety, stumbling over his words. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but it spurs me on. I’m afraid I may be far more antagonistic then I pretend to be, but his dimples stir something inside me, and I’ve got a feeling we get along a bit more than just as coworkers.
He’s handsome, and his style choices have certainly improved since I first saw him. I’ve always thought it funny how people change themselves to be more appealing when they’re attracted to one another. In that way, they remind me a little of birds, brandishing their makeshift plumes to get what they desire.
The festival started yesterday! I’m absolutely thrilled to see all the colorful people around. What a modern world, the range of cultures, beliefs and languages intermixing. Just last week I had an opportunity to use my spanish, and german. I spoke to one customer in Hindi, but they laughed at me and said that I was being too formal. Alex’s face has made each encounter worth it. He grabbed my arm the other day, pulled me to his side after the sale and a bit wide eyed asked how many languages I spoke.
“Honest, I don’t remember. Not every language I know is still in common use.”
He didn’t seem to know how to respond, so I returned to the register. As he collected his thoughts though, he came up to the side of me again and asked. “Why would you want to work here?”
He looked genuinely defeated, and I could tell this was a great opportunity for me to test the waters, so I raised my eyebrows and sighed, giving him the impression that I was taking a minute to wonder if I was actually considering it. “Well, I want to work here with you.’ I looked him straight in the eyes. As my response sank in, his cheeks began to burn and his adorable dimples came out of hiding. He quickly looked away, embarrassed. Success, he was definitely into me. Before he could get away I added, ‘Alex? Would you like to join me after work for the bonfire? I hear there’s going to be a storyteller and I could use someone to go with since this is my first Samhain.”
Alex turned a brighter shade of red, but locked eyes with me beaming. “I’d love that.”
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