I swish the hangers along the rod one by one, pretending to be searching for a new garment while intermittently glancing up towards the cute boy across the aisle. I flash a nervous grin at him and whip my head back towards Grace who is finishing a story I'm not listening to. Lost in whispers and giggles, Grace and I do not notice the stranger who approaches us. He hovers closely, waiting quietly, unnoticed.
I glance up in his direction, startled by his presence. Assuming he is one of the store clerks playing a trick on us, I laugh at the bandana tightly wrapped around his face, just under his nose, and turn back to Grace to continue our conversation. He lifts something up towards our faces and mutters something I can't quite make out. I turn my head and focus on the object. Thinking it's a toy, I laugh again, flick it with my fingers, and comment that it must be a water gun. When I feel the cold metal press against my cheek, and make out the words he has been repeating, I realize it isn't a joke at all.
"I said get the F*#@K on the floor, this is a hold up!" says the stranger nervously but with authority. Grace and I make eye contact and then divert our attention to the rest of the store. We had been so wrapped up in our conversation, we hadn't noticed that the rest of the customers are lying facedown on the floor. We drop to our knees and begin to giggle nervously. "I said get DOWN" he yells, frustration surfacing in his tone.
Grace and I slowly bend down on the floor and shuffle so that our sides are touching and we are holding hands. Our faces are pressed firmly on the cold floor. My eyes are squeezed so tightly shut that they sting. Suddenly a burst of giggles pops through my sealed lips. Grace catches the giggles and we are suddenly giggling uncontrollably. I squeeze my grasp on Grace's hand in an attempt to calm my nerves. We lay there for what feels like hours, face down, hands squeezed together, eyes tightly shut.
I feel something press against my back and slowly peel my eyelids open and crack my neck to see what is prompting me. It's a police officer. "Ladies, you can stand up now, it's over, they're gone" he says, trying to hold back the tinge of laughter in his voice. I look at Grace and we slowly rise to our feet. People are wandering around, talking to cops, eyeing us mid-sentence.
We had been laying in the middle of the floor, holding hands, giggling quietly for quite some time. Unaware that the holdup had ended, that the cops had entered and the other customers has risen and begun talking and wandering around the store. We look like idiots. We leave in disbelief, completely stunned.