As I neared the cheese shop, Hawk was just coming out to toss some cardboard in the recycling bin. He saw me and stopped. A strange look came over his face.
"Wow." He said. I slowed. I may have have begun to blush. For one split second, on that lovely day, I felt pretty.
He grinned. "You are the whitest person I have ever seen."
I made a face. My shoulders fell and I tried to duck quickly inside. Hawk quickly ditched his armload of cardboard and followed me.
"Seriously. You are the incarnation of pallor."
"Corpses have more colour than you."
I pulled out a very large knife and started cleaning a wheel of Cantenaar in a slightly menacing way.
"Have I told you how pretty you look today?"
* * *
Hawk and I were opening wheels of cheese. CeeCee was working nearby, just around the corner, on some spreadsheets.
"Have you ever had Tartufo before?" Hawk asked.
"No -- it's infused with truffles?"
I cut the small, springy wheel in half and carved off a few slices. I popped one in my mouth; Hawk declined.
I made a face. "You could have warned me it tasted like ass."
"I wanted you to experience it for yourself." Hawk picked up one of the half wheels, brought it to his nose and inhaled deeply. "Man. That does smell exactly like the human ass."
At this precise moment, CeeCee piped up with "Hey, can I try some?"
* * *
Hawk, CeeCee and I gathered around he schedule to determine who was working next and when.
"This has totally become the boy store and K-town in the girl store."
I turned to Hawk. "How so?"
"Well, CeeCee, Hirsute, Accountant and I work here, and Marie Perrault, Infusium and googleplex all work there."
"I am a girl and I work here."
"Well, you're not really a girl," CeeCee said. I turned to stare at him. Hawk started to snicker and CeeCee flushed, stuttered, tried to recover. "I mean, you're only here part time, and, um, you seem --"
"We've decided you're only barely a girl," Hawk declared. "Maybe 60% at best. It probably has something to do with the way gender works on your planet."
"I have ovaries. I'm a girl."
"Ovaries. Darling, let's look you over here. You're wearing orange converse shoes, jeans that have been broken in--"
"--a shirth that appears to be made out of an undershirt--"
"It's chilly out!"
"--and your hair is a separate being. What is it today, a starfish?"
"I'm wearing mascara."
"Because that makes it all better."