During my shift at the Circle K, a young girl asks for cigarettes/ Jacob Little

 

showing her ID and exposing herself

as fifteen. She offers to flash me

and when I laugh she sobs,

flees, makes me recall

 

sprinting naked through sprinklers, choking down

the Ten Pounder at The Kookout, and pillaging garages

for cold beer. Gripping the door handle

while skidding through suburbs to outrun the cops.

 

Sweating, staring at the floor as Angela Watson took her time

turning me down. My face tingling when I saw

Isaiah’s senior photo in the paper. The floor tilting. The red heat

that pulsed from the picture of his crumpled car,

how numbness drummed through me. A heartbeat.

 

Now my store is empty.

 

No businessman swiping his platinum

at the pump or examining his hairpiece in the rearview.

No ragged kids with two dollars in quarters and dimes

debating the merits of Snickers versus Kit Kats.

 

No veteran growling in to buy his Mavericks,

six-packs, and scratch-offs. No teens

who smell like weed, out so late 

that it’s early.

.

I should’ve just given her the goddamn cigarettes.

 

We would’ve lit them together,

inhaling and exhaling

smoke and exhaust

 

until we couldn’t tell our breath

in the cold early air

from the fog rolling in.

 

 

1973446_10202622961552937_1075194894_oJacob Little is the Managing Editor of Brevity. His recent creative nonfiction is published or forthcoming in DIAGRAM, Split Lip Magazine, Gigantic Sequins, and Yemassee, where he won the 2015 Creative Nonfiction Award. Follow him on Twitter @little_jaycup.

 

 

Header Image: Creative Commons, Public Domain, modified.

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