“How are you today, young lady?”
Mr. Sanford’s round and jolly face crested over the countertop like the full moon, craning to see her. Tearing her eyes away from the glass case filled with colorful candies and other delectable treats, Annie looked up at him and smiled.
“I’m doing just fine, Mr. Sanford. How are you?” Her parents had taught her manners from day one.
“Can I get you something from the case?” Sanford asked, as if she were the most important customer he’d had all day. He glanced at her mother who, with a single nod, approved the transaction.
Annie’s eyes turned back to the array of sweets. Rows of colors and shapes, dusted with sugar or gleaming like jewels. She knew she could choose one, and had been agonizing over her choice since before she and her mother had walked into the shop.
“I think…I think I’ll have one of the strawberry gels,” she said carefully, weighing the decision heavily, even as the words left her mouth.
Sanford smiled at her, grabbed the shiny, silver tongs and plucked one of the red blobs out of the bowl as if he were extracting a great treasure. He wrapped it in a square of thin paper and tucked it in a small bag that said “Sanford’s Sweetshop” on the front in bright red and yellow ink.
Handing it to her, he gave her a wink.
“Here you go,” he said. “For my very best customer.”