Stuck This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Karen often wondered if there was a God. The question angered and perplexed her. She really didn't spend too much time pondering the thought; it was just a fleeting one. Why spend a lot of time worrying about something you would never know the answer to? Well, until you died, anyway. And she guessed that if she should happen to find out there was a God after she had died, she'd be roasting in hell anyway. Hell, ha. She was well acquainted with hell. It's smoky fires singed her everyday existence, Yet, she wouldn't give up a day of her struggle. She couldn't. God knows she wanted to want to turn her back. She didn't. Some God out there if there was one. Karen wouldn't want to meet the devil.

Karen wiped John's mouth before pushing the chair to the counter. She wasn't really embarrassed by his appearance. It hurt more for him, though he had never really been a man to care about his appearance. The girl at the counter was staring at John. Not in an obvious way. No, she was attempting to be subtle, even trying not to stare at all. She kept busying herself with wiping off the table, picking at crumbs, but every once in a while her glance would stray to them, and she'd get that embarrassed look on her face. Maybe not embarrassed for John, but ashamed because she wasn't big enough to overlook a handicap. Karen finally stepped forward. She took out her wallet and quickly scanned the contents. She remembered when John had insisted on paying. Sometimes they had actually fought about it. They used to fight a lot. If John offered to pay now, Karen knew she wouldn't raise an argument. Fat chance.

Karen paid for her order. She hadn't gotten anything; just a coffee for John. He took his coffee with cream. She couldn't remember how many sugars.

"John, how many sugars do you want?"

He mumbled something that the girl at the counter couldn't understand. The embarrassed expression crossed the cashier's face again. Karen looked at her until she stopped looking at John. Her cheeks filled with color. Karen felt a little sorry for the girl. She didn't know why she remained standing at the counter, in front of the girl, while she helped John drink his coffee. She bent a straw and put it in John's mouth. His head was always bent at an unnatural angle. Always looking up at the ceiling, up at God. Into the heavens. At the stars. At the clouds. At the dirty water stains on the cracked tiling.

Creamy beige coffee dribbled down John's chin, falling onto his chest. He tilted his head to look at the tear shaped stains. His hands waved a little. They stuck out, falling forward as though they were really not attached to his arms. His legs were covered by a torn and dirty blanket. Karen's mother had made the blanket. It was an ugly orange and brown. John loved the blanket.

"All right, honey. Have you had enough?" Karen's voice flowed melifluously. Like honey. Like a mother cooing to her baby. John gurgled.

Karen wiped John's cheek gently. She turned to the girl at the counter, smiling benevolently.

"Thank you very much," she said, accenting the very.

The girl smiled tremulously. The boy whom she was working with came from the back room and asked her a question. She did not answer. She had been quiet, staring off into space, beyond John, for the past fifteen minutes. Karen wondered what she was thinking about and felt another small twinge of guilt. She smiled at the girl and pushed John away from the counter. She tightly crumbled the napkin she had wiped John's chin with, and violently threw it into the trash barrel a couple of feet away. Two points.

John mumbled and cooed. She looked down at him. His eyes were glazed over with a white film. He appeared to be blind. He was not. His mind was not damaged either. Karen gently smoothed the worn blanket over his legs, turning back to see if the girl at the counter was watching. John was still looking up at the sky. Didn't he always? 1


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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