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[07] butcher shop

Mom's out of cigarettes. She hands me money. It's a cloudless summer day. I study the rainbow strap wedged between my big toe wondering if the flip flop sound is the sweat and stick of my feet. I walk fast knowing that my mom waits. The sun heats up my tanned skin. My head feels like it's under a magnifying glass. At the end of the block I turn left and am out of the sun's reach. I suspect a train will thunder down the tracks before I get to the butcher shop. I'm halfway there and it's comfortable in the shade. With butterflies in my stomach, I wish. Please don't let the machine be empty. I don't want to go to the counter. Opening the door signals all eyes on me. No one says a word, and I walk straight over to the machine. I scan the choices. The machine takes my money, and with muscle I pull the clear plastic knob. Then I release, and the rod and knob loudly snap back into place. Virginia Slims Lights slides out into the bin. I grab the pack with relief. With leftover change, I turn around and walk toward the candy wall. Filled with gold nugget-shaped gum, I grab the little bag by its thin yellow string. With cupped hand, I add a box of candy cigarettes, candy lipstick, and Fun Dip to the transaction. The butcher gives me a small paper bag with my treats. I peer in. Then, I drop in my mom's cigarette pack, assured by its golden stripes and pretty writing. Passing through the door, the eyes on my back leave. I will come again.

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