“May I see your I.D. please?” Freddy asked the woman trying to buy a bottle of wine. He knew she was well over 21, but he didn’t want to bother trying to explain his ability to his boss. The woman’s eyes lit up, she happily handed over her license. Freddy glanced at it and handed it back. “Sorry about that, you can never be too sure these days,” he apologized as he rang up the bottle.

“I take it as a compliment,” she smiled. After she paid and left Freddy looked to the next customer.

Uhh. 90plus. Yeah, between 90 and 100,” Freddy decided. The blond cashier enjoyed using his ability to make bets with himself; it helped the workday go by faster. The elderly woman smiled at him, and he looked into her dark, black eyes. “Damn. Older than I thought,” he was midway through ringing up her items when he realized what age he saw. He looked into her eyes again. “5000??”  

“Something wrong?” the elderly woman asked. Freddy realized he’d been so shocked he stopped doing anything for several seconds. He immediately fumbled for the rest of the items on the conveyor belt and shoved them across the scanner.

“Sorry, Ma’am. I got a little bit distracted,” Freddy glanced around. It was a slow Thursday afternoon. No one waited behind her to move forward. The other cashiers grouped up around one station while waiting. “I was just thinking how much things have changed, you know? I’m only 24, and the world has changed so much from when I was a kid.” He started moving slower with the last few items on the belt, using the conversation as an excuse. “Like, I can’t even imagine what the world must have been like a long time ago, like a thousand, or even five thousand years. It must have been something else. $78.53” The corner’s of the woman’s thin lips pulled upward slightly, her wrinkled face tightened up into a smirk.

“Oh I’m sure it was,” she handed him a credit card and giggled. “Not that I was here, of course, it’s just easy to imagine.” Freddy nodded and accepted the card.

“Really? Cause you look about 5000 years old,” Freddy replied. His eyes went wide and he clapped his hands over his mouth. Something about the woman relaxed him so much he felt like he could joke around with her. But, he realized he just called a customer ancient to her face. She laughed in short, high pitched bursts with sparkling eyes.

“I am,” she winked a wrinkled eyelid at him. “That doesn’t mean I was here back then,” she said with a lower voice. Not quite a whisper, but quiet enough that only someone standing next to them would have heard. Freddy’s eyes went wide.

“Alien?” he whispered in a quieter voice. The woman shook her head.

“No, I’m like you.” Freddy’s eyes narrowed.

“Like me how?”

“Haven’t you wondered how you can see people’s ages?” she smiled. Freddy stood up straighter, his eyes rolled up in his head while he thought.

“Huh. No, I guess I hadn’t. You mean there’s more like me?” She nodded and held her hand out, palm upward. Freddy looked at it, then at her. “What does that mean?”

“It means I want my card back, please,” she asked.

“OH!” Freddy placed it in her hand. The woman put the card back in her purse, but her hand returned with a different card. A small red business card with gold lettering.

“Go get a tattoo with your favorite number on it, then come to my restaurant. We’ll talk.” She handed him the card. Freddy looked it over. A golden dragon surrounded the edge of the card and in the middle, it said, “Donna Chang’s” along with the address. By the time he looked up from the card, she was leaving with her groceries. He took three quick steps to catch up to her.

“Do I need the tattoo? I’m uh, a little bit scared of needles.” Freddy asked. The woman shook her head.

“Branding is fine too. If you want branding, you can come to the restaurant only. We’ll do it there,” she replied as she walked out of the store.

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