Sarah closes the door to her light blue car, touching her hair to make sure that no strands have come loose from her bun, and heads onto the sidewalk to do a little shopping that afternoon. She had spent all morning cleaning the house and doing the laundry. She only had a little laundry to do but went out and do the shopping so she can take a brief break from the house chores. But first she made her way to the little diner at the end of the street for a little lunch, wanting to splurge just a little on herself for something good to eat. She steps inside, the bell ringing above her to announce her arrival, and tells the hostess that she would like a table by the window. The hostess takes her over to one of the three little tables by the window and sets her menu down before leaving to help some more guests. Sarah places her clutch on the table beside her and examines the menu for something simple yet tasty to have for lunch with her iced tea she always loved to get when she eats at the diner. The bell rings again but she does not lift her eyes until her hostess from before sits a nice-looking older gentleman at the table in front of her, the man sitting on the side where he can see Sarah.
Sarah lifts her gaze to the gentleman who tips his head at her, his crystal green eyes shining as he looks into hers, and he takes off his hat to show short gray hair, setting the hat on the table next to him. She smiles a friendly smile at the man, not recognizing him, and dips her head as a hello back before she looks back down at her menu. Sarah looks up just as her waiter approaches her table to take her drink order. She orders herself a sweet-iced tea and asks for a few more moments to find what she would like to eat for lunch. Her waiter nods and heads over to take the drink order of the man at the table in front of her, also leaving once he has both of their drink orders.
Sarah continues to scour the menu until she finds what she is looking for and looks up to see where her waiter is so she can wave him over. To her surprise, the man is not looking down at his menu but is staring at her, or rather past her. She glances over her shoulder to see an out-of-town couple behind her at the third window table, having been seated there after Sarah, though she hadn’t noticed, and was talking low with their heads together. She chuckles at the couple, remembering when she and Eric would do that whenever they went out on dates, or whenever they found the time to go out on dates. Growing sad since they haven’t been on a date in over two months, she looks back at the gentleman who is now looking down at his menu, his lips a thin line as he concentrates on finding what he wants for lunch.
Sarah is startled when her waiter appears at her elbow with her drink sitting on a tray. She smiles at him as he sets the drink down before Sarah and then takes her order. She orders a small Caesar salad with an egg salad sandwich, handing the menu back to him and taking a slow sip of her tea as the waiter returns to the table in front of her. The man points at something on the menu and the two converses for a few moments before the man nods and orders some food, also handing the menu back and accepting his own drink that looks like sweet tea as well.
Sarah pulls out a book from her clutch, the clutch big enough for her ID, money, and a paperback written by one of her favorite authors, Crazdwriter. She opens the fantasy book about love, dragons, and evil warlocks and dives back in where she has left off, her eyes wandering up as she feels someone watching her. Sarah glances up over her book to see that once again the gentleman is looking her way. She glances back to see that the couple is now ordering from the waiter and then returns to talking low and close together. Sarah ignores the couple once more, though the gentleman was getting on her nerves. She knew he was looking at her, but when she looks up, he turns his attention behind her to make her think he is not watching her. Sarah can feel his curious gaze on her, and she was not enjoying it, but what can she do? She has already ordered her food and does not want to ask to move because she does not want the man to think her of being rude. So, she returns to reading her book, doing her best to ignore the man in front of her as he pulls out his own book and reads, still glancing ever so often up at her or past her to the couple.
Sarah silently cheers when her food shows up, and she sets the book to the side so she can enjoy eating her food. She thanks the waiter, grabs her napkin, and picks up her sandwich, anticipating a good egg salad sandwich. Sarah takes a bite and nods her head as she chews, relishing the mixture of egg, mayonnaise, mustard, and pickles. She then picks up her fork and pokes at her salad, getting a little of everything onto her fork before putting it in her mouth. Again, she nods her head in appreciation of how tasty the place has made their salads. She puts her book back into her clutch and peoples watch out the window as she eats, not even once glance back at the man, even when the waiter brings him his food.
In a half an hour, Sarah has paid her bill, exclaimed her delight over the food to the waiter, and is back on the sidewalk ready to get her few errands done so she can return home to finish the laundry. She looks up at the once blue sky to see in the distance the storm rolling in, heading straight for their little town. She shivers a little as the air drops and a bit of a chilly breeze brushes past her arms. Sarah looks at the shops by the diner and then the ones across the street, wondering which shop she should go into first. A sign in a dress shop reads ‘sale’, drawing Sarah’s attention and since her and Eric’s wedding anniversary is coming up, she goes there first to find a new outfit to surprise Eric with, already having in her mind what she will cook for him on that day.
Behind her, the couple exits the diner, chatting about what they will do next, heading down the opposite way as Sarah heads for the crosswalk to walk across the street to get to the dress shop. Once it is safe, she runs across, looking forward to seeing if Cathy, the owner, has anything new that she might like. The little bell above the door rings, one girl who works there waving at Sarah, who returns the wave before she heads off into the dress section. Behind her the bell rings again and she turns to see the couple entering, the woman’s eyes darting this way and that over the clothes and growing excited while the man rolls his eyes and looks for a place to sit while his girl goes shopping. She chuckles and catches the young man’s eye, pointing to where Cathy has couches set up in the middle of the store for the men to sit. The man looks gratefully at her before he kisses his girl on the cheek and makes a beeline for the couches. Sarah laughs as she walks over to a peach dress, picking it up, and looking it over for a moment. Deciding against it, she places it back on the hook and moves to the side, sliding the hangers for the dresses behind the peach, looking at reds, blues, purples, and greens all in different shades. She taps her lower lip as she decides which dresses she wants to try on first. She pulls a baby blue, a rose, a vibrant red, and a soft sea foam green dress in her size from the rack, excited about trying on the new dresses she has found. She heads back to the back of the store in order to try them on, waving to Cathy as she passes the cash register. Lily, one of the teenagers who works at the shop, pulls open one curtain to allow Sarah to enter a clean dressing room with a full-length mirror.
Sarah tries on each dress, turning this way and that in front of the mirror, trying to decide which dress would be perfect for their anniversary. Sarah sets the rose and the sea foam green dresses off to the side, retrying on the red and the light blue, torn between the two dresses. She puts her clothes back on, deciding to buy the baby blue dress since she mostly has red and black dresses. She gives Lily the dresses she will not be buying and walks over to the shoes, wondering if she can find a nice heel to go with them. The young woman from the diner pops up beside her, looking over the shoes, carrying a red, green, and purple dress in her arms and a small black shawl that will look pretty over any of the dresses she has picked.
“I can pick out fitting dresses but for shoes, I am the worse,” she says to no one in particular.
Sarah smiles and plucks off a pretty black heel that has a cute little bow on the back and hands it to the young woman, “Try these with those dresses. A black heel always looks good with anything and these just came in two days ago.”
The young woman takes the shoe and looks at Sarah, grateful for the help, “Thank you. I appreciate the help.” She goes and sits down, pulling off her own brown boot and tries on the heel.
Sarah returns her gaze to the boots with heels and other heels, her head cocked to the side as she tries to think if she needs a pair of these or if she has a pair at home that will work. Deciding to wear some cute heels she has at home, she heads for the cash register, placing the dress up on the counter and opening her clutch to get her money out for it.
“Hello, Sarah, how are you?” Cathy asks as she rings up her friend. “Oh, a baby blue dress? So different and so pretty.”
“Yes, Eric and my wedding anniversary is coming up in a few weeks and I wanted something different and a different color,” Sarah exclaims excitedly as she hands over the money for the dress.
Cathy places the dress carefully in a bag and hands it to Sarah before they say their goodbyes and Sarah heads out of the shop to place her new dress in her car before doing a bit of food shopping.
Sarah finishes her errands and returns to her car, spotting the couple emerging from the pastry shop, carrying a bag of goodies. The woman spots her before Sarah can get in her car and she waves at Sarah, then taps the box to show that she went with the heels. Sarah waves back, then gives the woman a thumbs up, climbing into her car. Sarah starts up her car and turns to watch over her shoulder to back out of the spot but freezes, her blood growing cold. Across the street is the strange gentleman from the diner, once again staring at her and at the couple.
Sarah shivers at the strange man’s gaze, making her back the car out and drive quickly yet safely away from the stranger. She makes it home a few moments later, still shaken by the experience. Sarah collects her belongings and hurries inside, making sure that she locks the door behind her. She puts everything away, hiding the new dress towards the back of the closet so that Eric does not see it before their anniversary and spoil the surprise. Once Sarah puts the food away, she returns to the front window, peering out even though she knows that the man did not follow her home.
She stares at the empty street, watching as some neighbors come and go but she knows all their cars and no new cars approach her house from down the road either from the left or the right. Feeling a little safer, she heads off back to the laundry room to put in the last bit of laundry before she heads outside to pull the rest of the laundry off the line in their small backyard. She walks outside with her laundry basket and pulls down the clothes off the line, folds them, and place them in the basket.
Sarah heads back inside to check on the clothes in the washing machine, then cleans the bathrooms while deciding what to make for dinner that night. She bustles around the house, the creepy encounter now at the back of her mind.