The girl, so sweet and friendly a moment before, was scowling down at me. “What do you mean you don’t know where it is?”
“Just that; I don’t know!” I rummaged through my bag, items spilling out around me as I searched. “I had it here a second ago, I know it.”
“A likely story.”
“No really! I swear-”
Suddenly her face was inches from mine. Out of the corner of my eye I caught the glint of a blade as it flashed through the air, and then the point was at my throat. “That’s what they all say,” she said in a low growl. “They all swear, and they all beg. But none of them deliver the goods. DO THEY?”
My life flashed before my eyes. “I’m s-sorry. It’s here, I know it’s here, just let me l-look a little longer and you’ll have it, I promise.”
She smiled, then. A slow, dangerous smile, filled with malice. She was savoring my terror. “Oh by all means, be my guessst,” she hissed, and straightened back up.
I went through every pocket, every nook of that blasted purse. But it wasn’t there. All the while the girl was tapping the flat of the blade against her chin, humming tunelessly as she stared me down. I broke out in a nervous sweat.
She sensed my defeat before I could say a word. “I knew it,” she sneered. “You’re full of it. You’re just like all the others. And you’ll go down just like all the others.”
I had no defense. Squeezing my eyes shut, I wrapped my arms tightly around myself and waited for the inevitable strike.
Please God, just let it be quick…
And then, as I hugged own torso for dear life, I felt it. A soft lump in my jacket pocket. The one place I had forgotten to look.
“WAIT! Wait! I have it!”
Sobbing in relief and triumph, I pulled the reusable cloth shopping bag out of my pocket and held it out in supplication.
“Take it! FOR GOD’S SAKE, TAKE IT!”
The Whole Foods cashier blinked. “Well I’ll be! You were telling the truth!” In an instant, the box cutter had disappeared back into her pocket and she was cheerfully ringing my items through as though nothing had ever happened.
I let out a small sigh of relief. Fucking hell, Nutty, get your shit together. That was close.