I don't know how to introduce or create a header for original fiction. I guess I don't have to, huh? Cool.
Avarice for something other than wealth was the challenge. This is what happened instead.
I left this unbetaed. My use of pronouns is nearly egregious, forgive me. I encourage any sort of criticism. I'm very thick skinned.
“Good luck, fellow graduates. The world is your oyster. Don’t forget to keep a bottle of hot sauce in your pocket.” She waves one last time from the podium before turning and shaking the hand of her Dean.
“Inspiring speech, young lady.”
“It’s an honor, Dean Sampson. Thank you for choosing me.”
“Nonsense. There was never a doubt who this year’s student speaker would be.”
She pumps his fist once more, smiling brightly.
“Alright, students. It’s kickball today. Team captains are Angie and Shannon,” Coach announces.
The rest of the 7th grade girls lean against the chain link backstop behind home plate waiting to be picked for a team. Their numbers dwindle until one girl is left. Shannon rolls her eyes and points at her as Angie snickers.
The girl doesn’t seem to notice as she takes her place out in right field without waiting to be told so. She watches though, from beneath crooked bangs her step-mother cut with dull shears.
You can see everything from right field.
“I’ll be back in your lovin’ arms in 3 hours.”
He laughs. “I’ll be sure to tell the pilot that, sugar.”
“Would it help if I told you I’m naked?”
“If by helping, you mean helping make my dick harder? Then yes, you’re helping a lot.”
“I love you, and your dick.”
“I love all your parts too. 3 hours. The plane is boarding.”
“You know where I’ll be. Hurry.”
For the millionth time, she curses the Gods of Locker Assignment as she rounds the corner. 2:30 on a Fall Friday afternoon and team captain Mike Kelly has head cheerleader Dawn McCullough positioned with her back against lockers 17 and 18. Dawn idly traces a perfectly painted pink nail across the number 22 on the front of his football jersey as he dips in to whisper something in her ear. Her stomach flip-flops as she pauses, watches them with her breath in her throat.
She moves behind them and coughs quietly. Dawn makes momentary eye contact over his shoulder and tugs on his sleeve. They take a side step. She opens #18 and tries in vain to not hear the sweet things they whisper to each other. She’d bet her scholarship that in four years, Dawn will be living in a double-wide in Buena Vista Estates with two kids and married to the filling station mechanic while Mike sells cars in his dad’s used lot and drinks a fifth of Dewar’s every night, or something equally tragic. It’s the way of this town.
But the truth of it, that this is it for them, as good as it will ever get, doesn’t keep her from wanting what they have right now in this moment any less.
“Are you sure? I just - it’s so BIG.”
“But you love it, don’t you?”
“Yes.” She hesitates. “I do.”
“There’s room for a garden in the back yard. We can both have our own offices, with room left for house guests, and kids…”
She turns with a blush, smiles. “You said it first.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He admonishes with a wink.
“Okay, let’s get it.”
She hasn’t needed an alarm clock since they moved here. Nope. Not with the 5:30am Northbound freight train speeding past 15 feet from her bedroom window every morning. At least this rental is made of wood and not corrugated tin perched on cinder blocks. She gets out of bed, pads across the cold worn floor to the bathroom, wondering what her odds are for hot water this morning. The bathroom fixtures are so old, they don’t include a shower head, just an old ancient tub, leaky faucet, and a small plastic pail they all use to rinse off.
Her step-mom is making gravy out of lard and watered down milk when she comes to the kitchen. A plate of steaming canned biscuits sits on the table of the rickety dinette set. She plops down and looks out the kitchen window. Her dad’s truck isn’t in the white rock driveway.
“Did he call?” She asks. Her step-mom just shakes her head. She watches her shoulders slump just a little from the admission. A spike of empathy pokes its way out from somewhere deep in her chest. “He will. He always does.” Eventually.
“I can’t do this, mom. What was I even thinking?”
“That you love him and you deserve to be loved by him.”
Her daughter touches her veil nervously. She smiles, presses her palm to her girl’s cheek.
“I do. I do, momma.”
“Save those words for him, baby. Now lets get you going.”
She’s learned to tune out the beeps and pings and wooshes of the hospital machines and focus just on her voice. Her mother tells her everything she thinks she needs to know. But she’s 11 and knows she’ll never remember it all.
“Earn everything, darling.” Her mother tells her last. “But know that no matter what it takes to get it, you deserve it all.”