Carrying a hefty box filled with items, Gui Gui exits the storeroom with extreme care lest she trip and hurt herself. With the pesky box blocking a major part of her front view, she mutters under her breath a string of unintelligible complaints for being the only person to look after a shop. Despite not having many customers, it has not been easy managing the business single-handedly. Even though she possesses great managerial skills, there is sadly no way she would be able to afford additional salary expense for a sales assistant.
Kicking the heavy door close and with another foot to balance herself, Gui Gui heaves a deep sigh and paces cautiously down the dimly-lit hallway and over to the front of the store. By this minute, her face is now wet with beads of sweat. She persuades herself to endure the bothersome weight sitting down unsteadily on her dust-covered hands and fights back urge to wipe her brows. Who knows for how many times she has found herself in similar situations like this one and yet, she finds no help to release herself from such repeated tasks.
The dark corner giving way to a bright ceiling as she can lay her eyes on what comes on above the top of the box, her lips curve into a much-relieved smile. Gui Gui proceeds on painstakingly long the narrow aisle in between overstocked shelves. She cheers herself on to persevere for just barely another couple more steps. Like an enduring train about to reach broad daylight at the end of a cold dark tunnel, she whistles and presses her way through.
Out of the blue, the sound of unfamiliar footsteps approaching from the opposite end alerts her attention. Gui Gui immediately steps back and laments over the fact that she still has to hang on to the burden of the box longer. Peeping slightly at the floor beyond her side, she happens to spot the owner of a pair of white-and-blue-striped Nike sneakers heading straight towards herself. The eye-catching footwear strikes her as something of interest from a possibly newcomer to her store.
"Wait a sec!" Gui Gui cried out. Fortunately, the person does stop.
Making a rough estimation in her head, she knows pretty well that a staircase leading up to the second floor is right behind them. Since there exists now an uncomfortable silence between them both, Gui Gui, among all attempts, breaks it by offering a dry joke, "Wanna move on to the library upstairs? Then, kindly pay a loonie for your use!"
Another stretch of silence ensues.
With her face well-hidden, Gui Gui struggles with all her might to stifle her giggles behind the box she is handling.
"Hey Gui, just what nonsense are you babbling about?" a recognizable voice of a regular customer friend bursts her bubble without mercy. Gui Gui was startled all of a sudden.
"Excuse me, you're in the way," another serious-sounding boyish voice arose even more curiosity in her as he casually brushed past without warning. Not long, brisk, firm footsteps marching up the creaky wooden stairs were heard.
"Oh wait, I was just trying to..." Gui Gui tries to go after him in her pitiful, muddled state but ends up slipping and loses grip of the loaded box in her hands. Falling onto the floor with a loud thud and the various stationeries spilling out all over her, Gui Gui moans over her bad fate as she gathers her patience to pick them up one by one.
"I didn't even get to see his face," she grumbles with surging displeasure.
The customer from a while back is kind enough to lend some help. However, Gui Gui cannot stop herself from giving her a cold, sour look.
As if the fall Gui Gui sustains is not unlucky enough, she reciprocates by advising the unfortunate girl further, "Next time, fix up a coin-slot machine if you'd really like to earn extra bucks!"