A Flash Fiction by Melanie Maggard
You’re at the mall, ringing up purchases at a pharmacy in a backwoods mining town, over the railroad tracks from where you were born. You’re a girl in acid-wash jeans and knock-off Keds, a green smock blanketing your cravings as you sell nuclear pop, pork rinds, and candy bars to teenagers to fuel their acne-pocked rage. They drive and punch and slaughter their way through the arcade across the hall, playing at being monsters or men or both. You hide from their glaring eyes stalking you over aisles of beauty magazines and Band-aids. You write lines and lines of sappy poetry behind the counter. You’re scratching at the walls around you, rows of cigarettes and canned tobacco reminding you there are easier ways to suffer. Here, now, you’re stuck being who they imagine you to be. Sometimes, while standing at the register, you reckon this is it, you’ll never leave this place, every day of every year you’ll park your red Chevy sedan in the same space and go home smelling of cash and Scotch tape, mustard-stained fingernails from lunch. You’re in high school, and they say you can be anything, be anyone, that these years are your best. But at seventeen, with your mind swirling with what you need to know and should know and wish you didn’t know, you can’t see what’s so wonderful about this age. You curse your aching feet and the weight of your thighs, not yet realizing how beautiful your body is or you are and you won’t until it’s too late to undo the damage you’ve done. You tease your hair so high maybe you could fly. You worry about everything but tell everyone you’re going to be a doctor so their awe can eclipse your doubts. Your head floats with diagrams of cells and organs, when all you crave is for someone to see you as more than your component parts. You suppose this job is good experience, but it simply reminds you how bored you are, how you don’t really know what you want but you do know that this isn’t it. Here isn’t it for you. Your reflection in the mirror is fuzzy and faint, but you keep looking, hoping to be seen.
Author: Melanie Maggard is a flash and poetic prose writer who loves dribbles and drabbles. She has published in Cotton Xenomorph, The Dribble Drabble Review, X-R-A-Y Magazine, Five Minute Lit, and others. She can be found online at www.melaniemaggard.com and @WriterMMaggard.
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