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Naomi Fletcher arrived at the post office at 5:05. Five minutes too late. The door was locked. And there was no one there, except for one swarthy overweight mailman waddling away across the parking lot.
“Hey!” she yelled. But Naomi had never been good at yelling. Or getting people’s attention in any way, for that matter. The mailman didn’t even pause. He just hopped into his truck and drove away.
“Can you open the door?” Naomi finished weakly.
She could feel her fingers sweating, sure to leave stains on the envelopes, sure to leave stains and crinkle marks on the envelopes she had spend all day trying to keep perfect. She sat down on the curb, totally dejected.
“My mother is going to kill me,” Naomi announced to one of the pigeons poking around on the sidewalk.
The six envelopes felt heavy in her lap. They had to be postmarked today. Or else…That was what her mother had said.
The late afternoon sun was burning new freckles onto her cheeks, but Naomi didn’t care. She wondered why she didn’t have the sense to leave rehearsal early. But, of course, there hadn’t been a good time to leave. Before the run-through, she had been helping Lydia go over her lines. And then of course there was her job to do during the run-through itself, and then the sound people had needed help putting the mics away, so…
Her mother was right. She was addicted to helping people. So why was there never anyone to help her?
Her phone bleeped. It was Lydz, calling her again…
“Hey, where are you?”
“At the post office, moping.”
“It’s closed. I can’t mail my stuff.”
“So mail them tomorrow.”
Naomi sighed. “Yeah, a day late. That’ll go over well at Princeton.” She suddenly realized that she didn’t feel like talking to Lydz or anyone else for that matter.
“Gotta go, Lydz.”
"Then you go, girl.” Lydia hung up.
The truth was Naomi didn’t have anywhere to go. She sure as hell couldn’t go home with a stack of unmailed envelopes. And Lydia’s parents were having a dinner party that night, so that ruled out crashing. So Naomi decided to just sit there for a while. She ran her finger idly along the edge of the sidewalk, until her finger got snagged on a crack in the pavement. Which hurt a lot.
Burning freckles. Throbbing finger. Sweaty envelopes. This day was perfect.
Then she noticed a loose chunk of sidewalk. “Well, I guess I’ve got to do something,” she told herself. She kicked the sidewalk. She kicked the sidewalk, and the chunk fell off. Easier than she had expected.
She picked up the chunk and marched over to the post office door. Then she slammed it into the window. And the glass broke. Easily. Naomi stared at the little shards all around her shoes. They were all shimmery, despite the fact the fact the glass was almost yellow from the dirt and grime built up on the outsides of the post-office. Naomi shook her head. Somebody needed to clean the windows more often.
She peered into the hole she had just made in the window, trying to make sense out of the ugly gray darkness inside the post office. There were a few countertops with computers and several bins full of envelopes. Naomi hesitated for a minute, wondering what would happen if she stepped in. She was sure breaking into a post office was a federal crime, but then again, she had already broken the window.
She pushed some of the shards aside,and stepped through. And she was inside. Now where do they keep the postmark stamp? Naomi stepped up to the service counter and started rummaging through the drawers. But there were so many. Some were tiny and cute- she had to fight the urge to put them in her pocket and take them home with her, but most of them were ugly and blocky and made loud clonking noises when she put them back down on the counter.
Suddenly, her phone rang again. It was her mom.
"Oh s***," Naomi said. She answered the phone on the second ring.
"Naomi, where are you?" her mom asked.
"Um... the post office."
"You paused. Are you lying?"
"No, Mom. I'm actually at the post office."
"Did you mail your envelopes?"
"I'm about to."
"Isn't the post office closed now?"
Naomi suddenly thought of an old daydream, where she was the best liar in the world. In her dream, she'd go out to the old marina, where nobody ever went. They were too afraid of tetanus and splinters, but not Naomi. Naomi the Liar wasn't afraid of anything. She'd climb into a little algae covered sailboat and head out to sea and just stay out there drifting across the bay for hours, away from everything that made her miserable until hours after dark. And then she'd come back home, when she was ready, and if anybody asked, she'd just lie about where she had been. And everyone would just believe her. Because who would think that sweet little Naomi was a liar?
Of course, the real Naomi wasn't a very good liar, no matter how badly she wished she was.
"What do you mean 'not exactly'?"
"They're about to close, I think." She found the postmark stamp, buried under some envelopes. She wondered if they had put it there intentionally or if it was just accidentally hidden. It doesn't matter, she decided. "It's my turn. Gotta go, Mom."
"Well, don't forget about your sister's recital."
"I won't. Bye."
Naomi started postmarking the envelopes. One…two…three…
four…five...done. And into the outgoing mail bin.
Naomi smirked. The whole thing had taken less than ten minutes, less time than it would have taken to wait in line if she’d gotten here at 4:30 pm. Life really wasn’t fair to people who followed all the rules.
Naomi suddenly realized she didn’t want to leave. The shards of glass scattered across the floor suddenly seemed dangerous. Inside the empty post office, it was quiet and dark and empty, and there was no one there to yell at her. But of course, she couldn’t stay there.
She turned around, clambered over the counter, and headed out the front door. That’s when the alarm went off.