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Right now, I’m not helping the elderly cross the street; I’m not chopping the yard, or spending quality time with my two siblings. Instead, I’m standing behind Weston Plaza waiting for you to give me the signal. The phone rang once then stopped. It rang again. This was it now. I walked across the street to meet you. We didn’t exchange words, any pleasant hellos or emotional goodbyes were omitted from our brief meeting. You just handed me the plastic bag. We were under the cover of darkness, so I didn’t see your face. I quickly stuffed the bag into my jacket pocket and hurried away.
As I walked into my house, I was met by my overly peppy stepmother, Mariah.
“Oh, you’re just in time for dinner,” she said too enthusiastically.
“Yeah sure,” I muttered.
By now Mariah was used to my amputated sentences. I didn’t want to talk to her any more than I had to. I wasn’t really fond of her. I guess it’s because she acted like she could replace my mother, who had died three years earlier. After her death, I was upset that dad had married Mariah four months later. It made me feel like he didn’t care about mom at all.
As we sat and ate, I could feel the thick plastic bag, still cold from the night air, pressing against my chest through my jacket pocket.
“So what is Micah doing for the summer?” my dad asked.
Micah was my best friend, but lately he had been straying away from me, hanging with hoodlums who were bringing him nowhere but down.
“Working,” I said.
“You should get a job too,” he muttered.
I didn’t respond to his comment. Dad wanted me to be like Micah, who was the patron of all saints in his eyes. Micah, who didn’t know where he was going, or where he wanted to be.
I stood at the corner of Chin’s Liquors waiting for you. I was more nervous than usual today.
I was dressed in a black t shirt, regular blue jeans, my Converse and a black hoodie pulled over my head. This meeting place was different. We usually met behind plazas, which would be closed and long stripped of any form of life. Now you told me to meet you here at the corner of this old, broken down liquor store, with a bar down the block and a diner across the street. People would be more vigilant here, watching out for thieves and drunk men starting meaningless brawls. Someone, anyone might see us, but you still say to meet you here. With all the thoughts rushing through my mind, I never noticed you coming. I spotted you as you walked towards me, taking the full length of the sidewalk not to make our meeting seem hurried and suspicious. Your walk bore the look of someone who was always in a hurry, but the way you constantly looked over your
Shoulder made me think maybe you weren’t always in hurry, but hurrying away from something, or someone. As you approached, the fluorescent lights from the novelty shop it your face, and for the first time, I actually saw you.
Your features were astonishing. You had angular cheekbones, no facial hair. Your skin was pale and pure, like fine porcelain. Your jet black hair made an obvious, but striking contrast with your skin. It was swept across your face in a fringe, and the rest was gently bushing the back of your neck. You had a ring looping through your thin lips, and another through you perfectly arched eyebrow. Though astonishing, your features were as serenely rigid as a 9 mm pistol.
My moment of admiration came to an end when you abruptly stopped your beautifully hurried stride in front of me. You handed me the plastic bag and I handed you the roll of bills. We exchanged no words. We never did. Even though for a split second I saw you this once, we never would.
As I left the corner I saw Micah and his new friends exiting the diner. They seemed drunk, but that wasn’t my problem. Micah hadn’t invited me to go with him. He hadn’t invited me anywhere in what felt like, and what probably was forever. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t want to be invited but in truth, I did. I missed Micah, or at least how he used to be. He was supposed to be my best friend.
“Hey what are you looking at,” one of Micah’s thick friends said. Though he was more than three feet away, I could smell the alcohol on his breath.
I did not reply.
“Hey he’s talking to you,” another stocky imbosel said.
“Just leave me alone,” I said slowly walking away.
Micah just stood and looked at me. His big stocky friend grabbed my shoulder and spun me around.
“Look leave me alone. I’m not one of those kids that you can just bully. I’ll fight back,” I said blatantly, while I felt my grip tighten on the Swiss Army knife in my pocket.
The imbosel and his friends were surprised at this comment. They unsteadily walked away, expecting Micah to follow. Instead he walked up to me.
“I saw you you know. Taking the bag from that guy I mean,” he said dryly.
Surprisingly he didn’t. He just turned and walked away. It’s sad he didn’t know I was just the middleman. I wasn’t going to wait for signals and accept plastic bags for the rest of my life. I was jus apart of my plan to get out of this godforsaken town. The plan that I’ve only scratched the surface of. I don’t need your help with this plan, I’ll do it alone. I can’t move forward – not yet – but at least I know where I’m going.