The Beginning At The End

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It is summer, but the morning air is cool in those hours right before the sun decides to rise. This is Chester’s favorite time of day since he retired. He has the city to himself, sharing it only with the underpaid, overworked men thrown a pittance to clean up after the college kids once the bars have closed for their day. He did that once, crawling out of bed at an ungodly hour to sweep sidewalks, hose them down, and hopefully not slip in some punk’s puke. Continue reading

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Needs Convincing

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She is not grown up, no matter what she thinks. Dale knows this as he drives all the way to Ithaca and she sits in the middle row of their minivan earbuds piping that banal crap she loves so much (really, when did any sense of adventure leave the music industry?) She wants to pretend it is no big deal but he knows better. His little Sarah is going to be alone, every day, without him or Connie there to support her. Who is she going to go to when life starts throwing the inevitable at her. Continue reading

Convincing

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Bodies bounce off each other in the narrow hall, bruising elbows, banging knees and straining backs. Still everyone tries to put on a happy face. Sarah knows the importance of first impressions and is going to be darn sure to make on. Mom rolled her eyes on her choice of dress when she left and dad said nothing, though he squeezed the steering wheel so tight his knuckles were turning white for the first half hour of the three hour ride to Ithaca. She loves him and understands. Daddy’s little girl is growing up and he is just not ready for it. It is actually kind of sweet. Continue reading

Short Timing It

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Thirty two hours and two shifts to go, that is what Bob thinks as he runs the mop down the base boards in the department store he works. He has not had a vacation in twelve years, paid or otherwise, bouncing as he has from part-time job to part-time job. None of his bosses until now have offered paid vacation, so when he took this job over a year ago, the first thing he did was plan. It did not take a lot of effort. Continue reading

What is Appropriate

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The grating, sandpaper sensations flow from Mark’s teeth through to his jaw and up into his brain. He cannot remember the last time he was so angry and if it were up to him he would fire that mouthy little bitch right now but these days his lawyer would be all over him for it. He remembers when all he needed Ian for was to go over contracts, now he actually has to listen to his advice about HR decisions because heaven forbid people understand what it means to be an employee who works for someone else. This is his store, he shouldn’t have to answer to anyone else. Continue reading

An Evening in Purgatory

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Everything is white noise and antiseptic odors. Malory stares at the faded, mint-green tiles of the examining room. She is shaking but she does not notice it. Her heartbeat is a hammering rhythm deep in her ears and she can actually feel it in her jaw. She stopped crying an hour ago. Why cry when the only voice in her head is a persistent, angry, panicked scream? Continue reading