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The Usual Stranger

An innocent doorbell would announce what would be the next six and a half years of Marie's life.

A seemingly innocent crime to the unknowing clerk of a local corner store, selling a box of razors and bubble bath to a teenage girl. How should she be accountable for what they would be used for?

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She recalled that night as she had been asked to so many times within the six months of her trial. What had the girl looked like? What had her voice sounded like? Did she reach out for you to save her or condemn her? After working at the same corner store for years, Marie had learned to amuse herself by reading her customers, how well they keep themselves, how they dress, what they buy. Marie remembered the girl, Marie remembered….


She had walked into the store that night in without a coat, but with a royal blue party dress, her autumn hair hanging nearly to her waist, a rip in her black stockings. <i>Perhaps</i> Marie thought<i> her hair might have been more radiant, but now, as if some punishment of an unseen god, it dripped like a faucet of dirt and waste.</i> She came in barefoot, that was the first thing that struck Marie, Just in her stocking feet and without a jacket. Marie had peered casually over her magazine at the girl who slowly walked in a stooped manner down the aisle, stopping in front of the toiletries. She had stood there for a long time, occasionally walking one way, then another, smudging mascara across her face as she rubbed her yellow eyes. She finally settled on one, then began looking at something else. This choice was easier, she quickly chose a bubble bath and proceeded to Marie's check-out with the quickened pace of one who wants to received a necessary shot swiftly. She lay them down with a hesistant impatience, but with a glimmer of determination. Marie read the bubble bath as she scanned it. "Lavender, Stress-relieving. I could use some of that." she joked. Marie had rung up the last of her purchases, a box of cheap generic shaving razors. The girl paid, her broken jade eyes glad to look down at something, and left as silently and swiftly as she came, flashing a broken smile that seemed forced in Marie's direction.





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