I Didn’t Mean by Shanna

“My god,” cried Rachel, “I never meant to walk out of the store without paying, it just happened!”

The security guard stared at her. “It just happened,” he parroted. “How do you just happen to forget to pay for a $4000 purse?”

“I don’t know! But I wasn’t trying to steal anything.”

Rachel gulped. She knew she was serious trouble. She looked around the room, its plain white walls and tacky posters seemed to crowd in on her. She looked down at the folding table in front of her and saw the purse that had started it all. How did this happen, she thought. How could she have gotten caught?

It had started out so easy, shoplifting. A lipstick hidden in her hand, a nail polish stuffed deep into her pocket. No one ever saw her nick anything when she was in stores. Soon, shoplifting small items had escalated to taking clothes and food and even one time, a bike.

Rachel enjoyed the thrill that shoplifting gave her. It made her feel special and like she had a secret that no one knew. She loved the adrenaline rush of doing something bad and whenever she felt a little down, she knew that it could be quickly remedied by the thrill of the steal.

Lately though, she had been feeling a bit low and it seemed as though nothing would help. The rushes were getting smaller and smaller and Rachel knew that the only way to combat her wretched state was by stealing a big ticket item. And she knew just what it was going to be.

She had had her eye on the purse for some now. It sat in the store window, calling out to her every time she passed. She knew that the buttery leather would be oh so soft to the touch and that the buckles would sparkle like bright stars. The beautiful grey color would match everything in her wardrobe and she would use it every day. This purse was the purse to end all purses and Rachel had to have it.

It had taken Rachel a little while to scope out the logistics of the store and to figure out the sensors and antitheft devices. She grimaced as she thought of all the tea and coffee she drank sitting in the cafe across the street from the store, watching. By the time she was ready she had figured out that there were always two security guards in the store, one by the door and one that roamed the floor. The sensors were regular sensors, nothing fancy or high-tech, and Rachel knew that a sensor could get up to five feet from the door before the alarm went off. She watched the women, and sometimes men, that patronized the store. She studied how they browsed and walked around the store and interacted with the sales people. She timed how long the average customer shopped and she took note of their mannerisms and demeanors.

Rachel learned all of this and the day finally came when she was prepared to make her move. She dressed in her nicest clothes (stolen, of course) and brushed her hair until it shined. She applied her makeup sparingly, as she had observed that the women who frequented the store had a classic, but stylish, look. Rachel had learned a long time ago that one of the best skills to have, when shoplifting, was the ability to blend in with the other customers.

Her heart was pounding as she walked into the store. She glanced around, eyeing the security officers subtlety. Just as she had planned, one was standing by the entrance, watching everyone enter and exit. The other was standing on the right side of the store, near to where Rachel’s soon to be purse was stationed. Rachel took a deep breath and slowly began walking around the store, stopping every few minutes to lift up a purse and admire it. She would pick up the purse, hold it up to her eyesight, and twist it around to see the front and back. She made a display of looking inside the purses, to see how much room there was and to check if it would hold all her things. A couple of the purses, she would try them on, and put them over her shoulder. She walked over to the mirror and turned this way and that way, to see how the purse looked when she was carrying it. She carried it over her shoulder, she held it down by her side in one hand, and she carried it in both hands in front of her body. Occasionally she would backtrack and pick up a purse that she had already tried on, and hold both purses out in front of herself, as if she couldn’t decide which one she liked more.

As Rachel made her way around the store closer to the purse in question, she squealed inside when she noticed that the security guard had wandered to a different section of the store. She waved off the sales associate that had popped up in front of her and told her that she was just looking. And then, Rachel arrived at the purse.

It looked even better up close in person, Rachel thought. She picked it up from the shelf and her fingers melted into the leather sides. She caressed the handles and placed the purse reverently over her shoulder. Looking in the mirror, Rachel was stunned at how perfect the purse looked tucked in close to her body and shivered in anticipation. She looked up and realized that the floor security guard was talking to the sales associated\ and the one at the door was looking in the other direction. This is it, she thought. She carefully slid the magnet out from her jacket pocket, enclosing it in her hand, and lightly skimmed the magnet along the metal sensor hanging from the tab.

Rachel was sure it had worked and now, the only thing left was to make her way out of the store. She continued walking along the aisles, stopping to pick up and admire more purses along the way. Rachel knew that the worst thing to do while shoplifting was to act like you were guilty, which is why she never rushed out of a store. She tried on another purse, this time on her opposite shoulder and smiled at her reflection in the mirror.

Rachel knew it was time to leave and she made her way to the exit of the store, the pilfered purse still hanging on her shoulder. She thought her plan was foolproof and stepped out onto the sidewalk and had just begun to celebrate her success when suddenly everything went to hell and the next thing Rachel knew she had been manhandled by the security guard into the back office where he and the store manager began to interrogate her.

Rachel had tried everything to get them to let her go. She had played the ditzy blonde, the haughty socialite, she had even cried and looked at the security guard and manager with her big blue eyes. But they just stared at her, unmoved.

What was going wrong, she thought. Tears had always gotten her out of fixes before.

“Can’t you just let me go?” asked Rachel. “You have your purse so technically I didn’t steal anything.”

The security guard crossed his arms. “Technically you walked out of the store without paying. We have you on tape demagnetizing the sensor,” he said. “Now you either fess up or we’re going to have to call the police.”

Rachel sighed in defeat. She was sure that she had been so sneaky, but she guessed she wasn’t.

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About bbcstudiowrites

This blog is me archiving the BBC Studio Writers Workshop.

Posted on October 29, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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