We had just finished an incredible turkey dinner with all the trimmings including that tasty bag of dinner rolls Brandon had bought. Several women had volunteered to help Mom clean up the kitchen, so Brandon and I traipsed upstairs to relax.
“We need to go someplace that’s not open 24-hours a day,” Brandon said, flopping down on the sofa with the newspaper in hand. “We want the full experience of waiting in line in the cold.”
“It’s going to be cold alright.” I looked over the back of the couch, peering at the pages as he fumbled with the colorful sheets of cheesy advertisements. I pointed to a page. “Dunham’s.”
“You want to go shopping for sporting equipment?” He turned his head to look up at me, his face so close to mine I could have leaned forward and kissed him. I didn’t pull back, but I wasn’t bold enough to lean forward either.
“Neither of us have any money, so we’re not really shopping per se. We’re just dreaming.”
“Dreaming of running shoes,” he said, facing forward again. He shuttered and shook his head.
“What else do you dream about?” My husky voice was close to his neck. Me?
“Running,” he said, his voice just as soft. “Every single day for the rest of my life.”
“Sounds like a good dream.” I rested my chin on his shoulder and he leaned his head against mine.
Just then my mom burst through the door, breathless like she’d been running up the stairs. “I forgot the pumpkin pie.”
Mom rushed over to the kitchen as I pulled away from Brandon. He held up the paper a little higher as if to rustle it and make it very obvious what he had in his hands.
“Are you kids coming down for pie?” Mom asked, picking up the pie dish from the kitchen counter and turning back around.
“We’re trying to decide which stores to hit tomorrow morning for Black Friday,” I said.
“Sammy suggested Dunham’s, but I was thinking JC Penny.” Brandon held the paper up again, the page now turned to show the women’s clothing and flannel sheet sets that were on sale at the department store.
“You were?” I raised my eyebrows.
“I didn’t know you were going shopping tomorrow morning,” mom said.
“Yeah, it’s a tradition Brandon used to have with his mom.”
My mom’s expression softened, and she walked over to stand behind the sofa with me. She held the pie in one hand and patted Brandon on the shoulder with the other. Her voice was sympathetic. “Then I think it’s a great idea.”
Brandon didn’t answer, just turned the page on the newspaper. After mom had left the room again, Brandon set the paper aside and stood from the couch. “Running shoes it is then. Let’s go get some pie.”
He didn’t look back as he traipsed down the steps, following my mom.
“I wish I’d brought mittens!” Brandon blew on his hands and tucked them further up inside his winter coat. “Whose stupid idea was this?”
“Yours, so suck it up and have fun.” The line outside Dunham’s wasn’t as long as the one outside JC Penny, but four o’clock in the morning was not a fun time to be outside no matter how short the line.
“I’m too cold,” he said.
“You’re too much of a baby.” I stepped closer to him and pulled his hands from his sleeves to take them in mine.
“What are you doing?” He tried to pull away, but I held fast and yanked him towards me.
I brought his freezing hands up to my face and tucked them inside my hood just under my ears, letting my long hair fall around them like a curtain. It would have taken zero effort for me to raise my chin and look into his eyes, but I was afraid he’d see that as suggestive or forward. I didn’t want him to think I wanted him to kiss me, even though that’s exactly what I wanted.
“Oh my gosh, that’s better already.” He took one step closer. I hoped he wanted to be closer to me, but he was probably just trying to get warm. I wrapped my arms around his waist and held tight. Sharing body warmth, I justified. He didn’t argue.
We stayed that way for a long time, ten minutes maybe. I could have fallen asleep but the two ladies in line behind us wouldn’t stop talking. They had mapped out the store, wondering how they could get all the items on their list before the good stuff was gone. I think they were shopping for seven teenage grandchildren, all of whom were athletes.
“We could help,” Brandon said. The ladies stopped talking and cocked their heads to the side. Brandon offered clarification. “We’re not really here to shop, just to have fun.”
“I don’t understand…”
“We could divide and conquer.” Brandon let go of my neck and stepped away. That made me mad, but I didn’t say anything. “Which items on your list would be easy for us to find? We’ll go grab them and meet you somewhere.”
“You would really do that for us?” the other lady asked.
“Sure, why not? We don’t have anything else to do,” I said.
“Okay, do you think you could head over to the basketballs that are on sale and get one of those?”
“Absolutely,” Brandon said.
“Do you know anything about disc golf?” one of the ladies said.
“I don’t, but maybe Brandon does.” I turned to him.
“I’ve done some throwing. What do you need to know?”
“It’s so confusing. Why do they have putters on sale in the disc golf section of the store?” The lady held out the flyer. “All I see there are frisbees.”
“Oh, the putters are the really small discs,” Brandon explained. “They’re meant for short distances.”
“Does my grandson need one of those?”
“Definitely.” Brandon nodded. “But the larger discs, the drivers, are the ones the kids go through the most because they tend to get lost easily. Throwing long distance is pretty inaccurate.”
“I hadn’t thought of that.” She creased her eyebrows.
“We’ll just head over to grab the basketball, and then take some time looking at the disc golf selection and pick up a few things that look good. You can choose which ones to buy.”
“That sounds like a plan.” By the time we divvied up the list and mapped out the store, it was almost time for the doors to open.
We looked like we were on the starting line for a big race, shuffling feet, pushing forward in a pack, anticipating that moment when the poor, hapless clerk fumbled with his keys to open the doors.
The doors opened, and we grabbed a cart, hurrying forward with grins, no longer cold. We headed straight for the basketballs. There were plenty of them.
“I guess we didn’t need to rush,” Brandon said. There were no other people fighting us for them. I grabbed a ball and dropped it into the cart, and we turned to go find the disc golf equipment.
The people in line outside the store all must have been shopping for different items, because most of the store was empty, the crowd having dispersed to the various departments.
We had the place to ourselves and took our time picking out discs and comparing styles and sizes. We even chose a nifty backpack disc carrier that Brandon said he would have loved when he played. Spending someone else’s money was fun.
As we moseyed back to the rendezvous point, we passed through the outdoor apparel.
“Could have used these an hour ago,” I said, holding up a pair of gloves.
“Nah, I liked your way better.” Brandon winked and passed me on the way back to find the ladies. They were thrilled with our selections and kept thanking us over and over.
They tried to pay us for our help, but we refused, claiming that we’d had fun. They finally settled on giving us a McDonald’s gift card one of them had in her purse.
“Go get some breakfast on us,” the one lady said. I backed away, hoping she didn’t reach up to pinch our cheeks or something.
“Thank you so much.” Brandon turned to me as we were waving goodbye and held up the little gift card. “Come on, I’m hungry.”
He took my hand as we walked out of the store and kept it in his all the way to the car. We laughed with each other over Egg McMuffins and hot cocoa, then drove home and fell asleep on the couch. Brandon had been right. Black Friday shopping was fun.
Running To You
Click here to read the next chapter in my work-in-progress!