“Cierra Part I”
Human beings are creatures of habit. We long for the stable and the routine. We sink into our ruts. We dig in our heels and get dragged away kicking and screaming by change. The morning commute is full of humming noise that we block out. The minutes tick by, and they never stop to give us solace from our grind. They imprison us until that fated moment when our comfort is shattered. It’s at that time, even if only for a moment, our lives change.
This day began like any other. I wake up to the shrill alarm I programmed into my phone so many nights. My body’s on auto pilot as I rush about the trailer, gathering my clothes and preparing them for the day. Wrinkles. If there’s one thing I hate about my clothing, it’s wrinkles. Shirts and pants are tossed into the dryer again and again to ease my mind. Breakfast is quickly made and devoured. Yet another ham and cheese sandwich with a can of soda is forced down my throat and into my growling stomach. Take your medicine. Take a shower. Wash the sleep off of you. Get rid of the self loathing from the night before. Dress yourself. Don’t put on your uniform yet. You’ll change into them later. Wear that vintage Star Wars shirt. That decision was what changed my life.
I make my way to my car in the circular parking lot in front of my trailer. Lot 117. Seventeen… that number has followed me all of my life for some reason. Never mind that. The minutes are ticking away and you can’t be late. Turn the key and light a cigarette. You can’t drive without one of those Turkish killing sticks filling your lungs with its sweet nicotine. Down the road to the gas station at the main intersection marks the first stop of my journey to work. Left hand turn to pass the assholes who haven’t been able to drive since the Reagan administration. Out in front of the teenagers who are in imminent danger of crashing Daddy’s car. Slowly into the parking lot now. Don’t hit the old lady. I know she’s annoyingly slow, but you don’t want to spend the day filling out a police report. Park the car. Walk through the door.
The cold air of the Speedway greets me with a smile. I’ve always liked colder temperatures. I have driven with the AC on since spring. Open the gigantic glass door that holds your morning energy. Two cans. Can’t make it through the day without them now, can you? The slow walk, and even slower line, to the cash register begins again. Something is different. The routine has been shattered. She stands there quiet as a mouse. She slowly grabs the next patron’s items and scans them through the machine. She has milky white skin. I have always loved a woman with pale skin. Pale skin just seems more pure to me. It’s untouched by the harsh fake tans or harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun that I do my best to avoid. Her medium length curled red hair frames her face perfectly. She is beautiful. My god, she is perfection! Get a hold of yourself kid. No one of her caliber would ever be interested in you.
I step up to make my purchases and smile. She has barely shown any emotion since I noticed the deep pools that are her eyes. She looks at me and then down at my shirt. Our connection. That moment when the normalcy of human interaction in a gas station is ended abruptly.
“Nice shirt,” She says with a slight smile on her face.
“Thanks. You know you should smile more. The job can’t be that bad, and besides, you look better when you smile,” I say with that classic cheesy grin of mine.
She smiles wider. I pay for my items and leave. Little did I know, my next month would be a routine shattered again and again.
© Jesse Cole Short Stack Story Time 2014