Elephant repellent

“I can help you here!”

I walked up to the cash register at Borders, magazine in my hand. I felt lucky – it had been a long line but I had, through random chance, gotten the cute brunette girl, instead of the large bald guy with the goatee.

“…OK,” I said with a smile, in response to her offer of help. “I’ll let you.” I moved deliberately, not too fast or slow. I placed my magazine on the counter. 2600: The Hacker Quarterly.

She smiled politely, picked up the book and scanned it. While she entered whatever information the computer required, my eyes wandered down to her breasts, under a thin t-shirt and framed by her unbuttoned sweater. Small, conical, and no bra. She must be cold.

When my eyes came back up to eye level, I saw her wriggle her nose. It was cute, like she was suppressing a sneeze.

“Your nose itches” I said. I often state the obvious. I tossed my cash on the counter.

“Yes, it does!” she said, brightly. “I –“

“Either that,” I continued, “or you’re a witch…”

She laughed. “Or maybe a bit of both.”

Oh, you’re like that, I thought. “Well, I don’t see any evidence of any spell being cast. I must be safe for now.”

“I try not to touch my face. It keeps me from getting sick.”

In that moment, I suddenly saw her as the type of girl who touches doorknobs with a napkin or tissue. Who doesn’t use public toilets. A cleanliness fanatic. She went from being a cute, if bookish, girl, to being… weird.

Why do you carry that umbrella? It’s not raining.

It keeps elephants away.

I gathered up my purchase. “…I see. Does it work?”

“Well,” she said, “I’m not sick!”

Does it work?

You don’t see any elephants, do you?