The Girl In the Drug Store

January 1, 2011
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You’re standing in line at the drug store, your Blackberry vibrating every two seconds in your jeans pocket. You really don’t have time for this.

You’ve been in the store a half an hour just trying to buy your Advil, gum and ten dollar lip gloss you need for the date you’re supposed to be at in ten minutes. You’d leave, but you’re second to next in line.

The store’s overhead speaker system keeps playing cheesy overplayed 80’s music that’s really starting to get to you. You start tapping your shoe to keep you from exploding, but it’s getting really hard. The girl in front of you is taking forever.

She’s about your height, maybe a little shorter. She’s clutching one of those ninety nine cent reusable bags with one of the handles ripped. Her blonde hair looks greasy and unwashed, and there are holes in her navy sweatshirt.

She’s putting crumpled dollars on the counter, as well as piles of change. The clerk counts them, as fast as she can, an irritated look on her face. You look behind you, and see the line has grown immensely.

The clerk stops counting the money and looks at the girl.

“You’re short.”

“How much?”

The clerk, pursing her too red lips puts down a chubby hand on the money and slides it back to the girl.

“Ten bucks.”

Ten dollars? Geeze, does she even look at the prices? At least you have your fifteen eighty already in hand.

She takes the money and puts it back in the bag. She turns to leave.

You put your stuff on the counter and look at her. You notice a big, red scar stretching across her forehead. You see a black and blue bruise on her eye.

You hand the clerk your money and look at the things the girl had wanted to buy. A box of gauze wrapping, scar cream, cover up and band aids. You look at the door again, seeing that the girl has disappeared.

You take a twenty out of your Coach wallet, and toss it at the clerk.

“I’ll take that stuff, too” you hear yourself say, pointing a perfectly manicured hand at the items.

She gives you a strange look, but rings it all up and bags it for you. Your phone goes off again. Gosh, you’re late.

You run out the door, looking down the street for her, hoping she didn’t walk too far away.

You walk halfway down the street, feeling stupid holding a plastic bag full of things you don’t need, when you see her sitting against a wall, her knees pulled up against her chest. Your guessing the holes in her jeans weren’t manufactured that way.

Your heart starts pounding as you realize what you just did. You’ve never done anything like that before- bought things for a complete stranger. You contemplate throwing her the bag and running, but that might make you seem like a lunatic.

You decide to walk toward her, clutching the bag tightly. As you get nearer, she picks her head up.

Not only does she have a scar and a bruised eye, but her cheek looks like it had been smashed in badly. Under her chin runs a thin, red line. Her bangs have small dots of dried blood in them.

She looks at you, eyeing your overpriced jeans and designer tee shirt. You bite your lip and nervously hand her the bag.

She takes it and looks inside, a baffled look on her face.

“Why?” she asks, her voice scratchy.

“You seemed like you needed it” you say, sticking your hands in your pockets, realizing your Blackberry has stopped vibrating.

She smiles at you, and you notice a yellowish tint to her teeth.

“I did” she says, her eyes looking out to the road. Cars zoom by, and you’re feeling kind of embarrassed being seen with her.

“My father hits me” she says, fingering the tube of scar cream. “I just want my bruises to get better.”

Without warning, a strong feeling of guilt hits you. You realize how selfish you’ve been, how much you take for granted.

You turn to walk away, when you hear her yell

“Thank you!”

You turn and smile, saying, “You’re welcome.” You keep walking but then turn around again. You don’t know if it’s a good idea, but you tell her your name. She tells you hers. You give her your address.

“Come by when you need a friend” you say, your regretful feelings gone.

“I will” she says back, smiling bigger than ever.





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