A Strange Offer
“The Majority of banks are introducing this system.” The smile that stretched across her face was elastic.
“That’s great, but I think for now I’ll pass. I just want to open an average checking account.” This was my first time in a bank by myself. My mom was supposed to come with me, but something came, and she couldn’t make it.
“Are you sure? This is an opportunity of a lifetime.”
The woman before me was a photocopy of a 1950’s stewardess. Her black hair pressed to her head as if held by Mod Podge, coming back into a uniform shinny bun, the whole thing finished in high gloss. She was even fitted with side tied ascot and tiny hat, all in a warm blush with white trim. Stepford bank clerk maybe?
“You know I just want the average with like a bankcard and checks. I’ve always wanted to write a check…”
“Checks are very nice, I can understand your fascination, but they are so outmoded don’t you think?” There was a pop to her voice at this last part, still pleasant with the perfect blend of forcefulness to make me feel uncomfortable.
“Yes, I understand. However, I like outmoded things. I even own a rotary phone that works. A land line. So, if you could just hook me up with what I came in for that would be great.”
“Of course, I would be only too happy to.”
She began to type on her keyboard, which just like herself seemed oddly outdated and not in a romantic way. The bank was quiet. Other than a small bit of conversation from the main counter, and the occasional customer, it was… pleasant, nice maybe. I had always thought banks were supposed to be like the DMV. Maybe it was just the branch I went to.
“You know,” The woman helping me paused in her typing, “You really should look at the brochures before you make up your mind. They are just so informative.”
I couldn’t really understand why she kept pushing the subject. I wanted to state very clearly the generally accepted rule that ‘no means no,’ but I couldn’t get myself to take off my polite hat to do so.
“Thank you so much, but I have already given this a lot of thought and I really would like to just get the average run of the mill bank account. Nothing more.”
I wanted to tell her I didn’t even like the stupid European card readers. It was a total lie to me that they were ‘better for identity protection.’ It was like saying your hair wouldn’t fall out if you didn’t brush it.
“I really think you should just give them a little look.” She placed the material in question on the desktop in front of me, her manicured pink nails glistening in the ambient 100-watt yellow light from the modern circular lamp above us.
“You know I will take these home and consider for next time. As for right now, I just want to get my money deposited and get out of here. I have a few other things I need to get done today so I’m sure you understand.”
Her eyes thinned when she responded, “Of course.”
I began to wonder if I was inventing her overt hostility toward me. Second thoughts began to creep in. I grabbed my things giving as kind a smile as I could muster under the strangely keen brown eyes of the clerk.
“You know what. I think I’ll just come back.”
Her eyes latched on to me, my body felt stiff and unmovable against them, “But we’ve already gotten started, please be patient for just one more second and the process will be finished.”
My heart was in my throat, I couldn’t speak. My body settled back like a ridged board. The clerk continued to type for several minutes more, and against my will I was obliged to watch. Always a smile was pinned to her face and her wide eyes glued to the screen in front of her.
“Now,” She finished turning to me, hands folded right over left on the desktop, “Shall we discuss our special offer.”
“I… I’m really not that…”
“You should read the pamphlet, there is so much here to review, see for yourself.” She proceeded to open the discussed piece of reading material and began to describe in detail why I should select it.
I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating, lights beginning to come from the paper. Streamers, kazoos, clapping. Small fireworks. There was the ticking of the clock. The slow padding of patron and tellers. The voice of the woman.
Her eyes grew wider and more cavernous as she spoke, expanding with her smile. The two becoming so large it appeared as though her hair had become eyelashes and her chin her lower lip. The pupils of her eyes formed into round QR codes, each mark visible. Everyone was looking at us. They were smiling as she was, their faces distorting in the same macabre fashion. I wanted to move, but my body wouldn’t let me, no matter how hard I tried.
She kept talking and talking. The clicking, the clock, and the sounds everywhere. I wasn’t sure what was happening till it had happened. My hand was holding a pen and she was presenting me with a contract in words glittering red.
I couldn’t. I mustn’t! I had to get out of there. In a rush, I threw the pen and my mouth opened, and from it poured a putrid scream I felt down to my navel. I had to go, I had to run.
I don’t know how I found myself in that alley or what happened after I threw the pen. But their eyes haunt me. I hear their voices at night now when I sleep, the turning of the clock hands, and the sound of her fingers typing on her keyboard.
Thank you so much for reading everyone!!
Prompt Sentence: The Majority of banks are introducing this system.
Word Count: 992
Special thanks to Artem Riasnianskyi from Unsplash for the use of the image!
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