Close the Door, Throw the Key [Niall Horan]
One.I walk down Brenton Avenue, humming to myself, just loud enough so I could hear and not bother anyone. This street was busy, but I never cared. I quite love people-watching. Some people do the oddest things. I near the corner and look around it quickly, seeing a man and letting him pass without disrupting him. I continue down 53rd until I come to Chleo's Pet Shop, quietly coming in the door.
The dogs all perk up at the sight of me, and I smile, walking over to pat a few of them on the head.
Friday is the day I get my paycheck, so usually after my shift I go out for a bite to eat or get something small for myself. Out of the $320 I get a week, $290 goes to my father, $20 goes to my cell phone bill, and the other $10 I get to keep for myself. I’m not bothered by this. Why waste money on myself when my dad can use it to pay rent and buy our food? My father doesn’t have a job, so I’m holding up the two of us with the money I make.
I tug my sweater off over my head, revealing my navy blue t-shirt. I pin my name tag on my shirt, adjusting my hair so that it doesn’t cover the tag. I walk back into the store and set my sweater down behind the counter. Maria, the girl whose shift is before mine, smiles at me before walking to the back of the store to clock out. She waves at me and I wave back before she ducks out the door and starts walking down the street.
Maria is a nice girl. We have exchanged a few words before, and she is really sweet to me. She’s really pretty, too. I’m surprised that she even bothers glancing my way sometimes. Well, time to get to work.
I make my usual rounds, feeding all of the reptiles, birds, rodents, fish, and dogs and cats. I wipe the windows with cleaner from the inside because it gets dirty when the pups jump against it. After I get done with all of my tasks, its nearly 5:30. No one has come in the store at all.
I turn the radio behind the counter on, and some song that I’m not familiar with comes on.
Get out, get out,
Get out of my head.
And fall into my arms
I don’t, I don’t,
Don’t know what it is,
But you’ve got that
It's a good song, I have to admit. The voices of the boys are amazing. I listen to the end of the song to hear the name of it. One Thing, by One Direction. Hmm, I’ll have to remember that.
I fall into a trance, listening to the different songs that come on the radio. I play with the dogs for a little, and when the end of my shift nears I go to grab my sweater.
The person whose shift was after mine walks in and says a quick hi before heading to the back. When she comes back out, I go to clock out. My paycheck is waiting for me in my mailbox. I always ask for cash, because my father doesn’t want me to deposit checks and have a bank account of my own. He uses the saying, “What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is mine.” I always chuckle a little bit, because it is quite clever. He's only joking, so I don't take it too hard. All of the money my father allows me to have is in a jar up on a shelf in my room. I think I have about $200 saved there.
I count the money, making sure that it is all there, and take my name tag off. I pull my sweater on over my head and walk out the door, waving to the girl on the way out. Pulling my phone out of my back pocket, I stuff my money down deep so that I don’t lose it. I check the time on my phone, 6:15. I have about two hours before the curfew my father set.
I decide to head down to the bakery down the road. This was the small part of Miami, so everything was fairly close together. I walk in and go up to the counter, getting my usual.
“Two slices of banana nut bread, please,” I say shyly to the old man behind the counter. I give him $5.75 for the order and move from the counter, waiting for my order to be ready.
Sure, the price is steep, but the slices are relatively large, and the taste is definitely worth it. When my order is called, I go up to get it and take a table far out of the way so people don't have to see me unless they're looking for me. No one ever does though, so I'm not worried.
I take a bite of my bread and immediately my taste buds cry with pleasure. It has just the right amount of almonds in it, with the sweet taste of banana. Great, like always. I'm just about to take another bite when someone slides into the chair across from me. They have a purple hoodie on with the hood up, so I can't see who it is.
They keep their head down, looking back at the front of the store just in time to see a mob of girls rush by, holding posters and wearing shirts with boys' faces on them. Oh boy. But who am I to judge?
“Oi,” I hear the person mumble, now obviously a boy. “I should never have ditched the lads just for a bite. Well, at least I landed in a bakery.” The first thing I notice is his accent. Irish, I think.
He turns around to face me, and takes off his hood. The second thing I notice about him are his blue eyes and blonde hair that tie into his features nicely. Man, he's cute!
“Hello there,” he says, smiling.
“Hi,” I say, giving him a clumsy smile. Wow, Maci. Way to go.
“What's your name?” he asks.
“Maci,” I reply quickly.
“Hi Maci!” He lowered his voice then, leaning on the table so that I could hear him better. “Tell me, have you heard of the band One Direction?” How odd of a question is that?
I give him a questioning look. “I think I heard their song on the radio earlier, but I'm not familiar with the boys in the band.” He seems to be relieved a little.
“Huh,” he says, pondering for a moment. I suddenly feel as if I'm being a pain.
“I can move tables, if you'd like,” I say, moving to get up. He holds his hand out to stop me, taking me by surprise.
“No, please stay, I need the company!” he says in a rush, looking into my eyes and freezing me. I wonder why he stops me. I just assumed that I was bothering him here. Oh well.
He motions for me to shake his hand. “I'm Niall,” he says, and I take his outstretched hand. I feel a sort of tingle as our hands touch, and I pull away quickly.
“Sorry,” I muttered, blushing and looking at the ground. Niall gives me a confused look for a moment, but nods his head and smiles.
I awkwardly pick up my bread and start to eat it again. Niall looks longingly at my untouched piece and I laugh, but then quickly compose myself. I don't want to look like a fool in front of this nice boy.
“Hungry?” I ask him with a smile.
“Are you going to eat that?” he says shyly, gesturing to the bread.
“I was planning on it,” I say, but then I smile, digging in my pocket for a ten dollar bill. I hold it out to him. “Go buy yourself two pieces, and buy a third for us to split.”
He smiles sweetly, looking absolutely adorable. “It's alright, I can get it,” he says, getting out a wallet from his pocket.
“No, I insist,” I say, trying to hand him the bill again. He sighs, letting out a small laugh, and takes the bill.
“Fine,” he says, heading up to the counter. He pays with the bill and comes back with the bread, handing me the change.
Niall begins digging in, making me laugh. He looks up, hearing my laugh, and I try to contain myself, fearing I've made him angry. Instead, he gives me a clumsy smile, and a bunch of the bread is stuck in his braces. I can't help but burst out laughing and he does too. When we finally calm down, we're sent into a kind of silence, but it's not awkward.
We finish our bread, him finishing two in the time I eat one. We split the last piece, and when I go to grab my half, our hands touch again. The strange tingly feeling is back, and again I pull away – blushing like an idiot – letting him grab his piece first. We finish and talk for a while. It is really nice to have a conversation with someone other than myself.
I check my phone for the time. 7:43. “Oh!” I say, surprised. Niall looks at me, raising an eyebrow, making me smile. “Sorry,” I say, “but I've got to go. I've got to be home by eight, and I walked here.”
“Let me walk you home,” he says, quickly standing up. Why would he want to walk me home?
“You don't have to do that for me,” I say, standing up and gathering my things.
“I want to,” he replies in a rush, following me as I walk out of the bakery. “Plus, it's dark out!”
Niall is right, it is pretty dark. I shrug and we started walking down the block. We chat about nothing in particular all the way down to my street. When we round the corner onto my street, I turn to him.
“This is my street,” I say. “Thanks for walking me this far. You don't have to stay with me any longer if you don't want to.”
“But I do,” he says, giving me a smile. “I've got to follow through.” I smile back and we keep walking.
When we reach my house – a very small two-story – I stop at the driveway. “Thanks for walking me home, Niall,” I say, giving him a smile.
“My pleasure,” he replies sweetly, and I blush.
“I wish there was some way I could thank you,” I say, staring at my shoes.
“Well, I could go for a hug,” he says, lifting his eyebrow. Really?
I shrug, and he pulls me into an embrace. That weird tingle is there again, but I can't pull way this time because he has his arms wrapped tightly around me. He smells wonderful, though! When he lets go, he asks me for my phone.
“I'll add my number,” he says.
I only have two contacts saved in my phone, my dad and my boss – I have no need for any others – so I felt kind of embarrassed handing I over. I didn't feel so bad, though, when I opened his phone and found only 25 contacts. Such a good looking boy only had 25 people? I added my name as Maci W., copying the other entries like Justin B., Demi L., Harry S., Liam P., and so on. Hmm, such odd names. I handed him back his phone, and he gave back mine.
“Thanks, Niall,” I said. “For everything today.”
“My pleasure,” he says, kissing my cheek. He smiles, so I do too, not knowing what else to do. I've never been kissed before. Not by my father, not by my mother. My mother died when I was two, so I don't remember her. We don't even have pictures of her.
“I'll text you, Love,” he says, and I blush at the nickname. I walk to my front door and look back to find him waving, so I give him a little wave back, walking in the door.