Allan anxiously fingered the roll of quarters in his pocket – his whole gaming allowance for the week – as he waited in line at the arcade snack counter.
Was he really going to do this?
One guy ahead of him in the line. Sarah was ringing him up, her curly brown hair falling over one side of her face, her ‘Metallica’ tee-shirt stretched tight across her chest. When she wasn’t working, she’d be dominating in Donkey Kong or Galaxian. Plenty of guys at the arcade had asked her out, he knew, but apart from trips to the counter, Allan had only spoken to her once or twice while waiting in line for an open cabinet. And not much then.
So what did he think he was doing?
The other guy finished and Sarah listlessly waved Allan forward. The light made it hard to tell, but he thought he could see the redness in her eyes. She certainly wasn’t her usual self today.
Allan swallowed hard, feeling his face growing hot, his nerves tingling all over as he purchased a candy bar. He was glad at least that there was no one behind him.
Now or never.
As she turned around to attend to something else, he plunked the quarters down on the counter and walked away as quickly as he could without actually running.
“Hey! Hey!” she called. “You forgot your quarters!”
Allan pretended not to hear her, but walked resolutely to the exit, heart hammering. He would not look back…he would not….
He couldn’t help himself. At the door, he stopped and looked back…just in time to meet her eyes from across the arcade; eyes that held an expression that put an end to all his doubts.
She had just looked up from the note that he had left wrapped around the quarters. A simple note, but after seeing the newspaper that morning – after noticing the name in the obituary column – he’d felt he had to write it:
“Sorry for your loss. Have some games on me.”