Belle Vista 

There was nothing so mundane as grocery shopping, but Mathis loved it. It was time to himself, in which he was free to explore endless possibilities of his meals for the week. He had been trying different things lately, and supposed that counted as a New Year’s resolution. The cheetah helped in its unique way to give opinion on what sounded like something he wanted to try and make, something for which he was ultimately thankful. When it doubt, defer to the cat.

Things were going well, his cart was half full, and he was moving down the multicultural aisle at a leisurely pace. Slow enough not to notice the gentle tug at the lower back of his sweater. He’d had to step closely to a rack that displayed bread earlier to let an elderly woman pass, but he hadn’t felt a loop of the knit catch some of the metal. The distraction of the overwhelming smell of spices and ingredients was enough to keep him oblivious at the sweater slowly but surely unraveled, the thread extending around the corner of the next aisle over.


 Really, she was just passing through - just a brief pit stop in Belle Vista for the sake of their median income and the way it affected their surrounding grocery stores. After all, trying to find saffron in the heart of Larkspur was ... a challenge, to say the least. So this was fine, even if she felt like a sore thumb as she pulled on her sleeves and looked over the spice display. Hesitated at a well-designed glass bottle of cardamom before she refocused and - bingo.

 Nine dollars for a gram. she hoped it was worth it, picking up the second container in the rack out of habit alone and shaking the jar at her side. She'd forgone the cart for the sake of avoiding the temptation to buy more than her overpriced seasoning, backpedaling out of the aisle and starting for the registers. She glanced down each aisle as she went, baking, condiments, multicultural, thread.


 Like a trail of breadcrumbs in a childhood fable, she followed the knit from where it was looped, pressed an index finger on the string gently to test it's tension and peered around the corner. She grimaced at what she saw, took a couple brisk paces towards the seemingly oblivious stranger. "Hey wait - stop! Stop moving!"

His mind was in some sort of stasis. Devoid of much though aside from that cat's ever-alert observations. The spices were overwhelming, the people nearby were quiet and relaxed, there was a woman's voice behind him demanding him to stop. He felt her approach from behind, and stiffened as the cat forced him to stand at attention. Panic prickled at the back of his neck, and he hastened to pull in the smells from around him aside from the various smells of food. No death, nor animal. His jaw set as he turned to look toward the source to find a young woman approaching him with something of concern. He fixed her with a quizzical look.

 When he started to move she reached out instinctively, held onto the thread and gave it a tug closer to him to try to keep from worsening the whole mess. Innocent or not, being put on the spot had her face splotchy as he stared, she nodded to where she was holding the thread level. "You're losing your sweater. You know, like the song ..." Maybe not but, she was trying. "I'll get you unhooked but stand still, okay?" Prepared to not wait for a response as she turned round to start to follow it to the source.

There was a significant tug at his back as he turned around, and with knitted brow Mathis made to glance behind him. It was then that he spotted the thread, and looked back with widening eyes as the young woman explained. He didn't know the song, but he could see clearly enough that a thread had snagged on something, and his sweater was unraveling. Horror struck him as she held up the thread, and informed him that she would unhook him. "Oh- Ah." What was he supposed to say to this?? "Okay." Is what he decided upon. She was walking away, and he grimaced. Everything told him to grab the thread and gather it in his hands, but she'd told him to stay still. Given his position in the situation, he would not argue. She knew where it ended. Oh, God, had he weaved a trail across every aisle? He wouldn't have much sweater left, would he? How had he not noticed!

 She was very careful not to pull as she traced the string back down the next aisle, mindful enough to grab the thread and hold it steady as she tried to snap it from the shelf on which it was stuck. Gritting her teeth, she pulled. tugged, huffed and bowed her head as she resorted to something a little less fuss. Keeping her head down and focusing it on the very tip of her index finger, barely a smolder as she sliced through the knit and kept her head down, back to the aisle as she waited for the orange to subside from her eyes.

 Sans lighting a couple cigarettes and impressing Amber, easily the most useful moment of power she could recall, regrettably. But that was beside the point as she gathered the thread and came back around, nodding to it and hesitated when she rejoined him. Well, she guessed he wasn't going to be able to fix this, but at the time it had felt like it made sense to salvage what she could.

"I believe this is yours ..."

The woman returned a few moments later, extending to him a ball of loosened thread. Mathis frowned that the bunch of yarn, his nostrils flaring some as he took it in his fingers and searched for the end of it. "Thank you." He said, and glanced up to smile genuinely at her. His fingers found the end, and he pinched at it. It was rough, and he furrowed his brows as he looked down it. The thread, blue, was slightly discolored. Darker, even nearly brown in some placed. "I don't know what happened." He mused, curious, and held up the end of the thread to his eyeline.

 Her head pounded up, rushed into her heart when he stared at the thread like he was planning to submit it to Unsolved Mysteries. It took work not to turn beet red and grimaced, waving down to the aisle next and snapping her fingers as she scrambled for the words. "It was stuck uh, in like- the corner of a shelf. Like maybe you snagged on it?" She leaned in a little, mindful still of personal space."Shucks, looks like you got some rust there ..." Weak, Piper. But she committed now so that was that.

It made sense that it snagged on something, and he nodded as she explained. Unfortunate. He'd liked the sweater, despite how old it was. When she leaned in a bit, more, he furrowed his brow as looked a bit closer. It didn't look like rust. His fingers moved across it again. Rough, and something crumbled off. "It looks burned." He said, stunned and confused. "Odd." Could friction have? Surely he hadn't been moving fast enough.

 "Weird, dude ..." She leaned in again, squinted as if he was reaching with that conclusion and in a comical display of trying to look natural and baffled ... set her hands on her hips. "Weird." She looked back up at him, wanted to scream at herself for the impulsive decision to not be a jerk and intervene. "Maybe it's like ... the friction." Right, yeah? Friction?

"This is like, polyester - right?"

Weird... Mathis' brow raised some as she inspected, and came to the conclusion that it was the friction. He huffed, baffled, but ultimately gave up his curiosity about it. Maybe he was misidentifying what it was. Maybe. He had more things to worry about. Like how there was now a giant hole in the back of his sweater.

"Well, it was." He sighed, then looked to the bunch of thread in his hand. What to do with it? Mathis turned to try and glance at the hole. Alas, there was no way of fully seeing it. With a shake of his head, he resigned himself to stuffing the bundle into the back pocket of his jeans. "Look bad?" He questioned the woman as he turned for her to see.

 The great thing was that most people, including him it seemed, were happy to go with the path of least resistance. Relaxing a bit when he seemed to drop the hunt for an explanation, she was happy he didn't see her face when he turned. Grimacing at how sore thumb the damage done was and scrambling to pull together something that was nice and good-natured for his benefit.

 "I don't think it's salvageable." Not unless he was some god of handmade knitwear, but that remained to be seen. "But I think you can make it home with at least a crop top."

Well, he didn't have much hope for salvaging it. He had a small set of skills, but knitting wasn't one of them. He chuckled at the idea of sporting a crop top. "Well, at least they're still in fashion." He said as he turned back to the girl. "Thank you for helping, er," He prompted her for a name, prepared to offer his own out of courtesy and continue on, likely to cut his shopping trip short in favor of making it out of the store with some bit of his dignity left.

 Oh, right, they were doing that! "Oh, yeah - Piper! It's nice to - y'know, sorry about the circumstances." Not that smooth, but her heart was just starting to settle back where it was supposed to be after the pure panic of nearly just giving herself away over a tiny thread and a singe point.

Piper. "Mathis. Thanks again." He said with a kind nod. Then he would be off down the aisle, toward the check out to make as swift an exit as he could. There would be a few stares, and the elderly woman behind him in line would tell him about the hole, which he would assure her that he knew about. She would offer to knit him a new one, which he did appreciate, but ultimately declined.


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