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Stay: Chapter One

The icy wind whipped across my face as I locked my front door. The wind also caused bullets of compacted snow and ice to burrow into my green 7-11 cashier jacket, finally giving me reason to resent my favorite season. The keys slipped from my hands just as the lock clicked. I sighed and bent down to pick them up. Finally getting them in my grasp, I found them already covered in a thin sheet of cold hell known as ice. I maneuvered around the broken deck boards and Mike, my brother’s, bike and started down the rotted steps. Triumphantly, I hopped onto the last step only to have it break and cause me to hit my jaw on a rusted pipe in the yard. Pain traveled through my mouth and up into my forehead and I stood up only to find my vision blurry and my balance worse than usual. I sat there for a minute until my vision cleared and looked around my neighborhood. Shallow Grove Mobile Home Park consisted of broken down trailers and a few tents. Frost covered over every trailer and the wind was hard enough to blow the skirting off of most of them. I turned to look at my own home and was immediately disgusted with what I saw. My trailer might have won worst home on the block contest with its peeling, grey paint and holes on the east and north sides. To add, the grass had stopped growing years ago and all that was left was hard dirt covered with junk thrown at it from passing cars. The deck was really starting to get bad and now I was wondering if maybe I should stay home today and fix it so Mike didn’t hurt himself like I did. I sighed because I knew that was a foolish idea, Mike knew he wasn’t supposed to go outside when I wasn’t here and if I missed work again, I wouldn’t have a deck to fix.

I slowly edged my way along the sidewalk and to my beat up old Ford truck. Its red paint was peeling too and had a bunch of graffiti on it from last Halloween. The door moaned as I opened it and the smell of dirt and cigarettes wafted from my car. The cigarette part always made me wince because I had stopped smoking in July, when everything went downhill. Cigarettes cost too much, especially for a minor. The car gasped to life when I turned the car and my CD I’d left started playing. Lacey Mosley’s voice caused me to smile a little bit and I shifted the car into reverse. Driving just plain sucked, but driving in winter in Colorado was encasing yourself in a dangerously explosive box and throwing yourself in the way of the Californian’s that came up to ski. I think that everybody that hasn’t driven in Colorado before should have to take a driving test before they come up here because I swear some people have never seen ice before. After about fifteen painful minutes, I finally pulled into a 7-11 parking space. I remember as I kid I always used to wonder who worked the late shifts in the twenty four hour stores and what it was like. I used to imagine it as some sort of playground where the employee would get to do whatever they wanted and tried to get myself locked in several times with no success. I wish somebody would have smacked some sense into me because working the late shift is one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made.
Working the late shift from 10 p.m.-5 a.m. consists of cleaning up what the day workers left for you, dealing with some drunks and drug addicts, and the occasional crazy who likes to tell you that the world is going to end tomorrow at least three times a week.
I took my CD out and pulled my key out of the ignition. The engine sputtered and died as I unlocked the door. Stepping inside the gas station, I took my shift behind the counter, plugged in the stereo, and put my CD in. I checked myself in the mirror to see how my bruise was doing. My bruise was looking okay, only about two inches long and only light pink. My hair was okay, dark brown and cut short just above my shoulder. With my extra money, I had added some blond highlights to it and had it cut so I had bangs that hung across my forehead to the side of my face. I sighed, tired and ready to catch some sleep before the regulars came in. I leaned back against the counter and shut my eyes, ready for a long night. My eyes snapped open two hours into my shift to the sound of the bell that rang when the door opened. I sat up to find a teenage girl browsing the drink section in the back of the store. She looked about thirteen and I knew I had to keep my eye on her or I would probably lose some stock. Just in case she did steal anything, I decided to check her profile.
This girl had long, unevenly cut black hair that looked like it hadn’t ever seen a shower. As a matter of fact, so did the rest of the girl, covered in a coating of dirt. She was wearing jeans with wide holes in the knees and had a beat up men’s flannel shirt over a dirty black tank top. When she turned around, I could see had been practicing facial expressions because any other person would have seen her face and regarded her as a tough teenager, but not me. Because of my life, I could see the pain that was hidden in her eyes and the perpetual resign on her face. She continued to pretend to look for a drink to be until I tapped on the counter. I leaned forward and asked, “Is there something I can help you find?” She tensed and turned around and studied me for a second. In that second her eyes softened up like she knew that I could really see her, but then they glazed over again. Stiffly she walked up to me and set a twenty on the counter. I leaned over a little more, but I didn’t see anything in her hands.
I raised an eyebrow at her, “I’m sorry, we’re out of nothing, but we should be getting a fresh stock next month.” That caused her to crack a smile full of nicotine stained teeth, “No, I want a pack of Malboro’s.” She gestured towards a pack of popular brand cigarettes for that was priced five twenty-five. I shook my head, “Sorry, we don’t sell to minors.” She whispered quietly, “Oh come on, no ones here and you can just erase the tape.” I sighed, “Sorry, I don’t sell to minors, even if it wasn’t illegal.” Her eyes narrowed, “Why? Come on, I need this stuff. Please, just this one time, hook me up.” I’d heard that line before, except from my own mouth and I knew it was a lie. I shoved the twenty back at her, “No.” She looks at me, “Who spiked your coffee this morning? The same guy who gave you that?” She was pointing at the left side of my face where I’d hit my jaw this morning. I took a quick look in the mirror next to the stereo and saw that the bruise had spread so it covered from my chin to right under my eye and had turned a sickish yellow color. I glared back at her, “I slipped on the ice this morning, hit my jaw.” She let out a short laugh and rolled her eyes, “Sure you did. Anyway, I know you know that I need this stuff, that I can’t live without it.” I shrugged, “I quit and I’m still alive.” She scoffed, “Yeah and you’re a sixteen year old working the late shift at a 7-11.” I didn’t have anything to say to that, so I sighed and gave in. Three days of sleep deprivation without one ounce of caffeine and I didn’t have the mind power to keep arguing with her. Plus, she would just come back later anyway.
I unlocked the case and handed her a pack of Malboro’s, taking the twenty. She smiled, “Thanks, I’ll pay you back.” I rolled my eyes, “Sure you will, now get out of here.” She nodded and stuffed the pack in her jacket pocket. As she left, guilt overwhelmed me. I knew she would be back later, so then I hoped I would be awake enough to actually talk to her. I better start working on it I thought and shut my eyes just as Stay started playing on the CD.





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