"What is it?" I asked.
"Mayfairs." He looked down when he said it, like he was a bit embarrassed.
"I don't know what that is," I said.
"Cigarettes." He showed me a handful of one pound coins.
I'm really bad at saying no to direct requests. In a way, I think smoking when you're 14 is the most normal act of rebellion there is. I tried it when I was 14. Made myself as sick as a dog and never did it again. Someone must have bought me cigarettes then.
I tried to take the sting out of my 'no' by putting my hand gently on his shoulder and smiling. "I'm really sorry, but I don't think I should do that."
"Oh, please," he said, looking right into my eyes. He was maybe a foot shorter than I am. He was also incredibly cute, or even beautiful. Like he was carved out of some warm wood. Flawless.
We stared into each other's eyes for about thirty seconds. I was trying to let him know that I was sympathetic even though I couldn't buy them. I saw when he realized I wasn't going to help him, just by a flicker in his eyes. I apologized again and hurried off.
When I got back to work, I told Tim about it. He said it was possible the kid was doing a sting for the council. That I might have been in trouble if I'd bought them for him anyway.
So that gave me pause. The town council training the most adorable liars in the world? I wondered for a minute whether he'd end up in politics.
I know it's unlikely, but I decided I prefer to think that maybe we'd had a little moment where I changed his mind about smoking somehow. And he'll grow up to his full height with strong bones and clear, smooth skin.
And he'll live a long, long life.