Thirty seventh night.
A month had passed since I first kissed Ian martin in his bedroom.
Which also happened to be the only good thing I remembered about the days passed.
Summers were leaving and though the colleges had started admitting students, I was still working at the store.
There was something pleasant about the world.
Or at least it seemed so.
And all the pleasant things have a relation about their proximity with the silence, it’s when you stop guessing about the world. When the certainty takes over the oblivion. And when, for a brief while, all the voids are filled.
Ian visited me often at the store after Mr. Patrick would leave, which he would, sooner those days. Maybe Martha was expecting a child.
He mostly talked about Louisiana, where he was expecting to leave after taking some exam at his college.
He would convince me about how moving there was a better option than working my ass off in Texas for maybe the rest of my life.
He was right about most of the things, moreover it was not all about the money because most Texas colleges required an almost perfect GPA to get accepted and even after this, LSU could still be a much less expensive option.
And when I would refuse to understand the sole of it, he’d tell me how beignets at Cafe du Monde tasted better than tacos from in here.
I could not leave my mother, she was ill all the times, fading away like a little scar on my wrist. Just when I started talking to it and just when it was the only friend I realized having. She would look at me every night when I’d be back from the work, and say
“You look beautiful, honey.”
She had started saying it in recent days. I believed that she knew of the fall and that it was important to see the beauty before a fall which is treacherous and does not promise a rise again.
I would tell her that she looked beautiful too.
People start becoming beautiful at some point in their lives when they occur to realize that the end of life is not subjected to death, it’s way before that, when the life stops giving and only takes back.
But I was glad, she seemed to have some time. I’d see her each night lying on the softest mattress we had. She struggled to have the air from the world, and her chest would heave like sadness of a caged rat.
Her nose, from which the life seemed to escape in bits. In the moon when her freckles would lighten up like a thousand stars from the sky and the wrinkles would go away for a while.
I liked her, and most importantly I did not want her to go. I did not want a night to come when I would roll over to ledge of my bed after a disrupted sleep only to see her absent.
Maybe it would be easier to sleep on the floor then, I thought.
Everett was lesser around us now, he was planning for a road trip with the Porter girl.
“Tomorrow we head to the red mountains, flower valley and around the lake Travis and until the end of horizons.”
He’d say with a shape on his lips that looked more like excitement than a smile. I figured out he would have wanted to smile more than he could.
“So, would it be next month or sooner that you would be leaving?’’
Everett asked Ian last night in the park.
“Not any sooner than the next month for sure.”
I grabbed a small branch from the ground and scribbled my name on the grass.
“What do you think about that, Cheryl?”
“I can think about people.”
I replied. I plucked out a leaf of grass and smelled it. It smelled like life. Dead things sometimes smell most like life.
“And what do you think about the people?”
Ian asked, looking at me.
“The life is afflicted. You don’t get to have a say in when things come and go and what you get from them. Most often, people get what they want and they start believing this is the secret. But the secret is not this. The secret, is that people can have their wantings but they will always be deprived of what they deserve to have.”
Ian leaned in, I could see his eyes reflecting my face. He took the branch out of my hand and interlaced his fingers in mine. And in his ever soft voice he said.
“Unlike you, I am not very well in acquaintance with the secrets of this universe. But I am pretty much sure that the only wanting I have is you. Maybe, our lines if drawn on a ‘who-deserves-who’ graph would never intersect. And maybe it proves your theory true, but it would still be relishing for me to have you in the end of everything.”
I smiled lightly. He planted a soft kiss on my lips.
“Oh I so badly want to kiss Amanda now.”
Everett said in between with his lips turned downward felling into a chortle.
Today was a Saturday evening, Everett left for his road trip. It was a public holiday for the Labor Day which falls on Monday. So we all had a Saturday night, a Sunday in between and then a Monday of vacation.
I would not be at store, and the time was rare so Ian and I planned to visit somewhere. Maybe the Padre Island at the Cameron County. I would have liked Alamo as much though.
Before Mr. Patrick left he paid me my salary for that month.
“You have done a great job, Cheryl.”
He said, handling me the cash.
His fingers seemed to have touched my skin more than it was necessary.
“Thank you Mr. Patrick.”
I passed on a formal smile.
“Call me will.”
He said with trace of a disappointment in his eyes.
“Thank you Mr. will.”
“My eyes would miss the beautiful sight of your face for a while now.”
A wide smile overlapped his disappointment.
I did not respond.
This man was weird.
I left the store at eight and told my mother about my plans with Ian.
He was ready with Alaska at my house after two hours.
He opened the door, I followed him.
Before he switched the lights on, he turned back and held my arms and told me this in his soft voice;
"You are going to watch how all the mess of this world can get collected in this small space of what I call my room."
There was a brief pause. I felt the ambience and imagined how would everything look like under the lights.
Since the last nineteen years of my life, I grew up in a room which me and my mother shared. I did not know if Ian meant the mess to be some crumbled blanket or unorganized pillows.
Maybe a dusty rug laid by the wall, but I had seen some real shambles in my house.
Maybe everyone is afraid of showing his mess to others,
because at some point in our lives someone walks in and tells us that we are nothing more than a disarray.
And then people start to grow afraid of everyone, thinking that all of the world's mess is nowhere else but around them.
I lifted myself on my toes to reach up to his ears and in a softer voice than his, I said.
"Why don't we leap across the seeing part then?"
He slid his palms all the way until my shoulder's curves and said.
I realized we were playing and I told myself that I wanted it. I felt contented by his palms rubbed against my body.
"We let the lights turned off."
He held my hand and three steps later we were on his bed. He told me that he likes pink bedsheets. I guessed he had one. I never knew.
A ray of light traversed through the window across the bed.
It fell on the floor and gave us the spot to lay our eyes upon.
There was nothing but the dark yet it felt more brightened than it had to be.
Ian did not say anything for a long time.
He just twirled his finger on the back of my hand. On and on.
And for a while, I forgot that I belonged to some other world.
Because it felt light, and complete.
Maybe it's not always that the wholeness lies in finding,
Sometimes, it's about forgetting.
And I wanted to forget the most of what I remembered for a while.
I wanted my ribs and all that to fall down, dearth of which would not harm the last of my existence. And I wanted that tiny thing, which absolutely comprised me to get absorbed in him.
I felt stuck in somewhere I did not belong to.
I closed my eyes and holding his hand I fell on my back. He followed. His bed was soft.
"Do you feel good?"
He murmered with the slightest of his breath.
I let it escape myself.
"Do you believe in souls, cheryl?"
He whispered, turning towards me. His arm formed the only distance between us. I let go of his hand and reached out mine to his other hand. He overlapped his on mine. I could see his eyes in the little moonlight and our palms touching each other, and the absence of light in between them.
He felt closer.
"Maybe, I like the idea of it.
Its idea is more important than the argument of its being."
"And what is the idea?"
He muttered and budged in a little bit more. Our noses touching.
I liked it, as we talked his breaths hit me on my lips.
He did not smell of the food we had eaten an our ago. He smelled of himself.
His eyes sparkling.
I whispered back.
"The idea is that people believe in their little, safe forever. The belief that sometimes, people go somewhere we can't get to and that there is still a line which connects them.
The idea that makes us believe that going does not always mean leaving."
I let his hand go, he tucked back my hair behind my ear. And placed it back around me, encircling my ribcage.
"I am afraid, that I won't be knowing enough. And of the fact that every time someone goes, they leave a trail, a large rope with thousands of thorns ripping through the skin of your heart, skimming the layers up unless you realize that the only thing a forever comes with, is pain."
I knew it, I knew it from always.
Things about pain. And then still there always had been a void for the oblivion, a pain. Something I did not know about. And he was afraid of it too.
Everyone is afraid that they won't ever be knowing what much there is.
I felt my skin dissipating, layer by layer in between us.
Defeating the very purpose of its being. I did not want to fight, I did not care enough. I wanted to go naked. The kind when you shed off the encrusted layers one after other and in the end you find yourself to be someone else. Someone, who could breathe more air in the lungs and return back all the love back to universe.
I leaned in towards him and the light stopped going through us.
I could feel his sternum on my breasts. His ribs going up and down and his heart beating after mine.
I reached to his ear.
"It's important to go, and there is a certain pain that follows. But what would be the staying worth if it were not the pains of leaving."
I bent back and my lips were on his cheek. I left them there for him to decide. He combed my hair from behind my neck with his fingers and pulled back his head so that my lips were touching his.
He leaned forward, I opened my mouth and my lower lip was in between his lips.
We were drowning, and we did not know to swim, and yet we were there to save each other.
He was gentle, tasting like the most tender skin. Travelling inside my spaces, and I gave him the most I had ever had in the moment that elapsed.
We were breathing again.
He looked at me and we smiled.
"You shall come back."
His mother called in after a while from the kitchen, inviting us for food.
I stood up, held his hand and kissed his palm.
We left the room.
As the night fell, silence took over the laughter and chuckles.
There were only few cars on the road now. I watched the lines of oak trees lined by the road. I closed the windows, Coyotes and wild hogs were dwellers in the night, their eyes would sparkle in the dark when the car's light fell upon them.
Everett fell asleep upon the back seat, having his coat tucked beneath his head and legs arched.
I looked at him, he looked innocent.
"He is a lovely boy."
"Yeah, he is."
I looked at Ian.
Ian was not one of those guys who smelled of lavish and vanilla, like Brandon from my sophomore year did.
Instead, he had a point which described him more than people are described by how they smell like or look like.
I could see him, clearer than I ever had. And he looked beautiful. In his yellow tee shirt, his hair flopping over his forehead from the wind through the gaps. Eyes blinking often, his soft ear lobe and nostrils moving slightly every time he would breathe.
That is the deal with some people, they are beautiful.
And I had always spent my short life in company of beautiful people.
Yet there is another thing about beauty in this world. It makes you part of a system in the end of which people are bound to get hurt.
After a while, the lines of oaks were replaced with buildings and farms out of the city, we were about to reach.
"Everett, wake up, we are home."
I leaned on to the back seat and reached out my hand to his head and ran my fingers through his hair.
"Ah, yes, waking up, yes."
He half opened his eyes and took a long breath.
"Do you know cheryl, what happens when some people die?"
I could have said something, maybe like, 'they get rot under the land', or like 'maybe they go to heaven.'
I did not. I asked,
"When some people die, they get loved for the first time, cheryl."
He said and closed his eyes, pulling out his coat from beneath his head to upon it. And slept again.
Everett's home was in same block as Ian's. We dropped him first to his home.
He lived alone in a small house located in the south of park.
I still had two hours left of allowance to get back home as the eat-and-run plan was not how the fair wandering was supposed to be.
"And where do you live Ian?"
"In the last row, third house."
He said with his lips turned up.
"I would like to see."
I turned towards him crossing my legs upon the seat and asked in my baby voice that almost gets everything done easily.
Ian stopped Alaska in the backyard. We closed the gates and headed to the main door.
His house was bigger than that of Everett's.
He lived with his parents and his pet dog Roxane.
We entered the house, a short aisle which was lighted up blue led to the main hall which had a kitchen across itself, Ian's room in the left and his parent's in on the other side. A staircase led to the basement.
I sat down on the chair in the main hall and he turned the t.v on.
He called his parents in.
"Mom, dad, she is my friend cheryl."
"The girl from the store, right?"
His mother said.
"I am Lisa by the way, you can call me, umm, I am afraid if Lisa can be made a short name of or not."
"I am cheryl campbell, the girl from store, yes."
"And I am Ben, Ian's dad."
His dad said with a smile.
"And we are glad that you are here tonight. Ian never brings his friends. I shall make something to eat for you guys, enjoy yourself until then."
His mom said.
"Ah, mom we are full."
"You don't say no to mom."
Ian looked at me and arched his eyebrows down.
"I am not the king here."
A few minutes later, we were in his room.
Ian had a blue chevrolet car given to him by his mother when Ian's father got her another one.
He had named it 'Alaska'.
So, it was technically a she.
Now, while I was not in favour of naming cars or providing them with a gender, I also did not have a say in it. Because, I had never had a car and if my calculations were true, it would take me seven years to get one old car. So I liked Alaska.
And yeah, the thing about her name was that even in the superior hotly summers of texas, Alaska was cold.
She would not start until she felt like it.
Everett sat behind while me, beside Ian as we fared. Ian drove slowly. His hands were firmly holding the wheel, I liked them. He looked at me and smiled.
I smiled back.
Everett kept reading something which looked like a letter in the light of car's middle lamp.
"What's that Everett?."
"This is a letter from Amanda."
"Who is she?"
He pulled out a picture from the side pocket of his coat and reached out his hand to me.
There were three girls in the picture.
"The girl with brown hair, she is Amanda porter. I am going to propose to her soon."
Amanda looked elegant and beautiful. Well, more than me.
I said, handling him back his picture.
He glanced it and put it back in the pocket and smiled at me.
"We are nearly there."
I could see the lights from a distance. A cowboy figure raised up, smiling in the lights from its base. And as we got closer, we could actually smell all the different barbeques. All the four types of them.
"Let's take a bottle each."
"So that all the people don't drown in our saliva at the fair."
Waving his head in the air pretending to had smelled something very delicious in his long breath.
We parked the car by the main boundary surrounding the ground. Ian did not care much about Alaska being stolen.
In his words
"Only the king Ian with his tender hands upon the soft steering wheel of Alaska could make her hot."
I exited the door and looked in the sky, closing it back. The moon was in the sky. I could see some ferris wheels high with people shouting inside the built cabins.
I wanted to be there, on the top, as high as it goes. And remain there for a while. More than the while, the top usually remains there.
I had had felt good in my life most of the times. I was cheerful and laughing. But I lacked being on the top. Ruling everything or maybe at least having that feeling of ruling everything.
I had always felt like a mishap somehow dropped into the base of a shit pile.
As much as I could laugh, I felt nobody ever heard it.
"Ah cheryl, we gotta go on that shit to ride it. You can't just watch it all night long."
Everett said from the out of his door.
I smiled and turned back to get to him,
Ian was standing behind me.
"What were you doing?"
I lightly punched him on the stomach and laughed.
"I was watching what you were watching."
"And what did you watch?"
"I watched the desire to be there."
"From where the stars are closer than everyone else yet far enough to reach to. From where, for a brief moment you can learn being someone without the tiny world laid down."
I was about to say, but Everett interrupted.
"What the fuck guys? Are we even going to eat those sauce dipped, cheese bathed, roasted steaks? Or let alone ride that damn good wheel? Mmm."
He said, finishing up in his action of waving his head in the air smelling some delicious shit from it.
I looked up at Ian, in his eyes and smiled. He nodded.
We all ran towards the entrance of the fair.
In the first rows there were candies, all the hell lot of them.
Oranges, pineapple and most abundantly peppermint.
We bought different ones.
I exchanged mine with Ian's after eating it a bit.
"Where are all the good things?"
"There they are."
Ian said in a deep, deep voice.
Pointing his finger towards the stalls in the third row.
"Well, thanks, though I had figured it out miles back in the car with the sharpest nose God ever made."
"God did not make noses, evolution made it. And sharks are pretty good with theirs."
"Shut up, boring Ian."
"Shut up, boring Everett."
"Are you guys coming or I am eating this fair alone?"
I said passing through in between them.
"As the queen says."
"As the douchbag follows."
We entered the third row.
If there were a heaven, it seemed to appear, it was in the damn third row of fair stalls where there was food which I presumed tasted like all the good shit in the t.v advertisements.
Ian had butter and cheese sandwiches with a thin cut roasted beef layer, pacan pies and we shared a large chicken fried steak.
Everett was more interested in brisket.
"They smoke it like for damn eight hours."
"Like it was always made keeping me in the mind."
I was not as hungry as I felt before being here. I had an ice-cream after I was finished stealing almost thirty percent of their food.
We wandered for a while but it felt heavy in our asses when the food signalled us to lie down on the ground forgetting about everything including nice peppermint candies and pink gorgeous cotton candies and the close to stars ferris wheels.
I wanted to sleep. I had not had a good sleep since I started working at the store or since my mother fell ill or damn since I was born. When I feel sleepy, I make myself remember that I have not slept in days.
"Guys, Ian, I can't move."
"Me as well."
We decided to go back to the car and sit there for a while before we would drive back home.
We headed back to where we parked our car, I bid a bye to the high cowboy.
There was a red car parked along ours now.
I looked at it.
"Whoa! That's Mr. Patrick's car."
"What is that fucker doing here."
"That is where all the people go on sunday, stupid.
Maybe he is with Martha.
She called back at the store too."
"Maybe, though as I last saw, Martha was pregnant, belly inflated like a hippo's, I don't think she would be here."
"We gotta see."
"We are ninjas of the dark."
"Nobody can escape from Ian the ninja."
"Who has eaten shit load of steak he can't even move."
Everett laughed in between.
I closed his mouth.
We sneaked in the dark from where we could see who was in the car still remaining unnoticed.
"What do you see?"
Everett flopped upon Ian's shoulder and asked.
"I can't see shit, there is no one in there."
"Are you sure it's patrick's?"
He asked to me.
"From the number, yes. Also from the broken tail light."
"Whoa, wait the fucker is in."
"It's olivia wilson with him."
I looked Mr. Patrick kissing a woman on the back seat of his car.
"Asshole isn't even let letting her breath."
"That breast grab move was awesome."
"That would have hurt."
"Who is she anyway?"
I looked at Ian.
"Evan wilson's wife, they are neighbours to Patrick and Martha."
"Also, stay away from this guy."
Everett added in Ian.
"I do think so."
We watched for a while and then decided to cover up our faces with our shirts and head toward Alaska. Everett said there was a 4% probability he would notice us leave.
And half of it that he would recognize us.
We executed the plan carefully and in he did not notice us leaving.
In minutes we were back on the highway to the city.
"He told me Martha cheated upon him for Evan."
I said looking at them both.
"He is a shitty liar. Why would Martha cheat upon that douchebag?"
"Anyway, who did notice that breast grab? Did you see the look on olivia's face?"
We laughed in unison.
Seventh day at the work.
I woke up little bit later than I'd usually. However, I made it to the store at time.
Mr. Patrick was at the door, standing and looking at his watch.
"Oh dear cheryl."
He said as he saw me and leaned on for a hug. It was brief and he smelled like somebody had thrown a bucket of shit over a stack of rotten meat loaves. Well, not that bad but not so far of it.
"I am in hurry, I gotta go somewhere, you keep the store in your watch, close it whenever you like to once it is past 9."
That felt good, so good that if he would have told me that he was going to say that. I might have given him a hug all by myself or two if he asked to.
Ah, not maybe but who cares.
Cheryl campbell, I thought, is the store queen for a day.
Though it was not the best place to become a queen of yet it sounded almost good while pictured in mind.
Mr. Patrick left soon after I got in. I did not change today. I liked my pink tee shirt and black jeans. They looked good on me, I looked good in them.
There was a large mirror in small room at the back of store where we kept goods. I locked it in and stared myself for a few minutes. The mirror in my bathroom, which also happened to be the only mirror at my home was small enough not to show me all at once.
I wanted to see myself, the whole of me.
I specifically liked my breasts, Ryan young from highschool was mad for them. He was gross. So that if asked, he may or may not remember my face but I was sure he would recognise it's cheryl campbell's damn pair of breasts if shown to him.
I liked it though. Everyone is mad for something, I had some of those things. It was funny in its own way.
I got back to the window, and turned on the radio.
"From the days when it rained,
When the birds could really fly,
From the days when it rained,
When you had love in eyes.."
I liked the song, I sang along it. It was my song now.
For a short while, I believed everything was mine.
A few people came by the noon, until I felt sleepy and rolled on the window shutters at the doors and windows.
It was dark now, I left the chair and grabbed my uniform from the locker in the backroom and laid it upon the floor behind the chair at back of the counter and lay upon it.
For a while I kept thinking about everything, my mother back at the home watching the road across the window, Mr. Patrick somewhere trying to look across some bras, Ian and the skinny boy laughing somewhere. The world was a big place I realised, I had it in my small heart.
I fell asleep.
"Cheryl" , "cheryl!" , "wake up you damn sleepyhead."
I heard somebody saying it loud.
I opened my eyes and saw both of them with their flat faces pressed upon the glass window.
"Yeah, yeah, awaken, wait."
I stood up and adjusted myself.
" we gotta go."
"That's not how you ask someone to go with you."
Everett interrupted him.
"You try then, shithead."
Everett nodded and made a stupid gargle sound with his throat. And said.
"Yeah, so cheryl. We fucking gotta go before it's late."
"Where all the fucking people go on a sunday, to the mighty fare at dallas."
"All the fucking people don't have a store on their watches though."
I said lifting both my hands to my waist.
"No, we don't."
"Ah, okay, but first I need to call my mom about it and then you gotta purchase some real shit from the store so that it could make up to the customers I am going to miss being at the fare."
I reached out my hand to the phone to call my mom but it rung in halfway.
I signalled to both of them.
"Hello, this is cheryl from Patrick's groceries how may I help you?"
"No, Mr. Patrick is not the store today."
"Yeah sure. What's your name again."
"Thank you, bye."
I hung up the phone.
"Who was it?"
"It said Martha taylor."
"She lives in the same block, next street to us."
I remembered Mr. Patrick said Martha is his wife.
"It's his husband's store."
"Yeah, I know. He is a freak though."
I sold them some chips, colas, candies, peppermint sticks and icecreams. I sold myself a packet of sweet breads.
I closed the store and we left for the fare at eight pm.
Sixth night after I started working at the store.
I reached home at half past ten hours. I had bought two burgers for me and mom along with a meat loaf, some beans, fruits, vegetables and a pack of breads with a few eggs for morning.
I kept them in the kitchen, and headed to the bathroom to change. My mother was resting in the other room, I did not like to change in front of her.
Until I came of eight, she would dress me up but when I started feeling my breasts growing up, she made me learn how to take a shower and dress up.
My mother looked a lot like me, small grey-green eyes, moderately arched eyebrows, prominent forehead, golden and brown hair with few whites among them and a visible chin emerging out of a neat jaw line. But she was different. I felt her existence to be more than mine. Fragility, I concluded, comes with perks.
She would smile often, with her eyes half closed because of uplifted cheek mounts covering them. She knew a lot, or atleast it seemed so that even while smiling she was not funny, she was rather kind and compassionate.
My father left her when I was three, for a woman named Isabella who worked at the same bank my father did.
I looked myself in the mirror in the bathroom. I unhooked it and close it up towards my eyes. I remember Ian looking into my eyes back at the store. I smiled.
I came back to the room, mother had arranged dinner at the table.
"You are spending too much."
"I have a calculator, mom. Don't worry, I am still saving enough that after the summers I can join college."
"That is a good thing cheryl."
I liked it when she smiled, which she did often and all the same. But I could tell, about what she means with which smile of hers.
"I visited the doctor today."
"I am getting weaker in the days to come."
"Did he say that to you?"
"No, I feel so."
"The world does not run on what you feel, mom."
"Well, in a way he said so."
I gulped the rice, grabbed the water and continued.
"How he said that?"
"He said I have it growing in my lungs, it's infecting me. Also he prescribed more intense treatment. And all I know about that is that I am getting weaker in the days to come."
"You are going nowhere mom."
"Yes dear, nowhere."
I left the dinner table and headed to my bed.
In the night I could see her face in the moonlight from the window.
She looked more beautiful than I ever could get.
I did not believe in souls, but it felt very hard not to think about hers. I assumed she had a better one than most people have. The kind that kills you when you get sick of your life.
Her life had been sick for so long, spent in a small apartment living with her daughter in dearth of money.
She deserved more.
Beautiful people always deserve more than they are likely to get.
And maybe she was going.
When I looked at her, I saw lungs breathing hardly. The infection was eating her, wheezing sounds from her nose. And she would not talk much about anything, so she would smile.
She stopped looking herself in the mirror a few months ago.
The world maybe a beautiful place, and maybe people believe it has some way of working. But I knew it's just a dead place cultivating life out of itself. Hopeless. And my mother, she was a dream from which I did not want to wake up.
I kept looking at her until I fell asleep.
Sixth day at the work.
I hated it that I had to wear either of my only four dresses just to come to store and switch it with the uniform there, and same when I go back home.
But that was just another thing.
I hated many other things more than the uniform switch.
Mr. Patrick was weird, not only that he looked so but also it could be pulled out from his behaviour that he was weird at his mind. It felt like if he had one wish to be granted to him, he would ask for somehow becoming capable of looking through the clothes of women.
Moreover, it felt shitty because I was also not a woman by now.
The boys did not show up yesterday, which I wanted them to. It's not like I waited for them, that is a different thing, that I am not so familiar to. Because waiting depicts certainty of a happening and I had never had certain happenings to wait for.
But I wanted them to show up.
The kind of want you want when you see a butterfly and a flower and you want the butterfly to fly and sit on that flower. Not because you have a camera or that in the hope of some miracle, but because it seems to feel good.
The noon was boring, sometimes it seemed that Mr. Patrick conspired that with his blunt 'I-am-just-trying-to-flirt' skills, my noon should be made boring and ridiculous. Boring, to the extent where I could not tolerate him anymore and tell him to go fuck himself or maybe to come fuck me. And I strongly suspected that he desired for the other option.
But I did not give him a shit, I kept on passing formal smiles and kept on counting the pay after each deal. Subtracting it from the money I would need for college.
I calculated that it would take me just the end of summer to make it. Perfect, I thought.
Mr. Patrick left at eight, which meant I could have two hours of my lovely loneliness in the store. I turned on the radio at low, laid down on the chair with my feet on the window slab and closed my eyes humming with the music.
After a while, I heard the store's gate opening which would ring a bell hung over the gate.
Those boys were back. They were walking slow this time, not laughing. The skinny one, I could see on his lips, was trying to stop himself from saying something which would sound like, "sorry for the day before, we hope you do not mind."
And I waited for them to come to me.
Upon reaching, he said,
"We want two packets of chips and a cola.
"And also, my dear friend still thinks you are gorgeous."
Then he chuckled looking at Ian.
I remembered their names, I just did not want to tell myself that I remembered. Remembering names depicts knowing, which I did not.
His name was Everett.
"Thank you for your friend's words, Mr. The words delivery boy."
I said with a smirk on my face.
"You can't insult my friend while The mighty Ian sits here, in his kingdom it is a crime to belittle king's friends."
"Oh come on Ian, the girl is just trying to find her place among us both."
Skinny one said.
"Whao, no, I am just trying to thank your king."
I said with a smile this time.
We all laughed for a second.
"Whose name on the bill then?"
They left with the bill.
I watched them leave and then again the large one shown up at the door.
He shouted across.
I said back.
I closed the store at ten and left for home.
Fourth day at the store.
Mr. Patrick provided me with a uniform to wear at the work. It had a yellow strip stitched on the front of itself with my name written over it in red letters.
I never liked the red colour, but that one looked good. Again, I liked the fonts.
Most of the times, as it were summers the store would be empty. Patrick was a good company to be in. In days passed he told stories about his grandfather who was a mexican and married a woman from Texas. And so Patrick was here growing up in the south of state until he opened his store when he came of twenty seven and married Martha taylor whom he met at the cemetery at his aunt's funeral.
He talked a lot. Nobody talked much as to the point to bore me, but he did. So, he used to bore me. But I worked at his store so it was not included in my business to get bored of him. So I would often smile, and then he would smile.
But not in the way I'd smile to him, rather in the way a boy of eighteen smiles thinking that he had just impressed another eighteen year old girl and now they are going to have a french kiss.
He never talked of his wife, or acknowledged her presence when he talked to me. Once he said that she was a mistake.
Also, that he hated Evan wilson, whom he thought his wife was dating behind his back.
But often he would seem interested in me. And I had been so used to it, to be an interest topic of people, that I could not care any less about Mr. William Patrick liking me or having been interested in me.
I was just another girl who worked at a store until the summer would finish and colleges start.
And after each transaction, of what seven percent would be added to my pay, I calculated the money I might be saving at the end and if that would be enough. And it never seemed to be.
In the evening, Patrick was finished with his boring stories, 'I-want-you-to-like-me-too' smiles and a thousand times adding 'the beautiful' prefix before my name, he left for the home after collecting money from the drawer.
I was supposed to work until ten and close the store then.
At 8:17 pm, two guys entered the store. Both tall, one of them was bulky, large and golden haired and other was skinny, wore a blue shirt and had a smile bigger than his face should have.
They asked for two packets of chips, a can of cola and two peppermint sticks.
"Whose name is on the bill?"
I asked running my fingers on the bill machine.
Without looking toward them.
I did not look at people until it would become very important to.
"Cheryl campbell, do you know the serological tests based reactions provide evidences of humans being closer to old world monkeys than new world monkeys?"
He said reading my name from the sticker on my chest.
That was, I concluded, a long line someone said while staring at my breasts.
"No I don't, that is none of my concerns.
And whose name is on the bill?"
I said looking at them.
The large guy had a funny face adding up to his weird haircut and moustache, yet he looked smart. And the skinny one looked geeky with hazel eyes, two freckles on his cheeks and straight dark brown hair.
Moreover, he would smile every three seconds as if he knew something I did not.
"It's Ian, Ian Martin. I study science at TSU and this is my friend Everett sparks."
These guys were weird.
I slipped the bill across the window and handled them their packets.
They left the store, skinny one first followed by another.
The large one shown up again after three seconds at the door, I could see the skinny one trying to pull him back from behind the door. He looked and breathed and shouted from across,
"And also, do you know you look gorgeous cheryl campbell?"
Then laughed and left before I could reply.
I sat on my chair and laughed after he left.
They were certainly a lot less boring than Mr. Patrick.
I closed the store at ten and left for my home.
It was a good day.
From the days when it rained
Chapter - 1.
(Dust on the books.)
One and a half year ago.
I lived in a small apartment with my mother in Texas. I had four dresses in my wardrobe, except for the black one which was for funerals. Ours was a one storied two rooms apartment, of which one was kitchen.
A bathroom, made of tin sheets was in the backyard. Out of the window, we could look at the road. And that was the thing, a road is most boring thing to be located out of your only window.
We would often eat boiled beans and stew. And the chicken soup was only for sundays.
In the summers when I was done away with school and was convinced to believe that we did not have enough money for making it to college, I thought of doing a job.
There were three important things about me
1. I was poor, 2. I was not good in studies, but wanted to go to college. 3. I had a beautiful face.
And except for the third premise, I did not really hope anything else would help me get a job.
An evening, going down the block towards the park, I saw a grocery store with the board that said 'Receptionist needed.'
It looked perfect. The fonts looked perfect.
Next morning, in my third dress which consisted of a white t-shirt and blue jeans, I was at the door of store.
"Welcome to the store madame."
I smiled at the man that said.
"Place your order please."
He said from behind the counter.
He was almost six feet tall, well built and brown eyed man with a defined jaw line.
"Oh, sorry but I am for the job here, I saw the board.."
He said with a laugh and asked
"What is your name then?".
I replied with a smile.
"Now, cheryl campbell, do you know how to use a calculator?"
He said in a deep voice, and laughed.
And then continued.
"Of course you do."
Before I would reply, he said.
"You ought to join tomorrow morning, we need you cheryl."
"Mr. Patrick, William Patrick.
You could call me will though."
"Of course, thank you Mr. Patrick."
"See you then, beautiful cheryl."
"See you sir."
I came out of the store and walked through the park to my home, on my way I purchased some chicken.
It was not a sunday. But I had a job.
The sun was high and far, hidden behind the dark clouds. Sky was brown as the leaves of Autumn. I looked down, the sea was vast and horizon seemed to be the last end of this world.
Amanda once talked about horizons, maybe she knew a lot about them.
She believed that they are infinite, one after other and the offing is endless. She believed there is no escape from the miseries of this world. And I hated it now that she was on the other side. That she left me here knowing that there are other ways to get past the world.
I could see water striking the base of cliff.
The white of it is always all on the shores, where it hurts.
I wanted to fall.
There is a point, I knew, from where you could stand up and throw a stone off the cliff telling the other side to fuck off, and go back to your home.
And there is a point, from where you could realize that the only home you have is the world you created around a person who exists no more. And it is hard not to fall when you are on that point.
The leap is not when you fall, it's when you know there is no point in standing.
I stood up, closed my eyes and opened my hands. I looked at the sky, I saw a room painted black, the weak sofa kept in middle of it and the broken mirror of bathroom.
I smelled the air around me, I was sad. I took a step forward, and smiled.
It was my time to go.
And for sure I would have fallen, if it was not Ian grabbing my shoulder from behind.
"Everett fucking sparks.
Were you going to fall off that damn cliff?"
He slapped me before I could reply to him.
"I can't let you die."
He hugged me and repeated the same sentence until he was convinced I am not going to fall.
And when I saw it, the sea from beside his head. I felt stupid of myself.
"Yes, Ian, yes. I know you won't let me die.
We sat on the ground. The sky was clear now, I could see the sun.
I asked him how did he get here.
"I went to your house to tell you that I am leaving today.
You were not there, and your novels were kept open upon the table. I read them. Supposedly you wrote your own falling-off-the-fucking-cliff suicide plan as an ending to each of them."
He laughed saying.
"So, you are leaving today."
"No. we, are leaving today. I have got plans for you as well.
Though we are quite late on our way."
He said in a serious voice,
"I want you to come with me Everett. Will you?"
I stood up, and he followed.
"Yes, but wait, I gotta do something first." I said.
Ian kept looking at me as I went to the end of cliff.
I picked up a stone from ground and threw it off the end.
This was the point, and this time I knew what to shout to the idea of going to the other side.
"Maybe someday, all the stars will fall. But the light will always remain.
Amanda once said,
They are just like me."