Here’s a little something I’ve been working on. Because, that’s so me…work on something and then leave the characters to rot. I’m a horrible mom. Anyways, I started this awhile back in hopes that my husband would jump in and work on it with me. I still wait. See me, I’m sitting here waiting.
Anyway, I have a few different directions I may or may not take this particular piece in. Knowing me, it’s hit a dead end. Unless one of you wants to pick it and toss it back and forth with me? YA paranormal fiction, it’s my thang man.
Without further ado…
Her head hurt. It always hurt when the weather changed and changing it was. The wind gusted angrily, whipping dead leaves across dying grass and grey, broken sidewalks and caused them to cyclone around her ankles. Overstuffed clouds hung low, threatening to burst and unburden of its contents, some form of precipitation or another. Most likely, from the looks of it, snow.
She hunched and braced, wrapping her hoodie tightly around herself as she walked home from school. She should have listened to her mom this morning, a rare appearance, and worn her winter coat but no, she had to be defiant and now, she was freezing. Shivering against her heavy backpack that was smacking her lower back in time with her steps, filled with homework she wished she didn’t have to do. She sighed thinking of the geometry work she had to struggle with. Geometry was her least favorite subject, next was Physics.
With pale blue eyes narrowed to slits, she stared straight into the wind until her mascara traced black lines down her face, giving her a look of angst, which as a teen, she was already full of. A little angst and a whole lot of loneliness she always felt out of place, particularly in her own skin. Other kids had always sensed it and made fun of her, sometimes, if she let it, made her feel even more invisible. She was different and couldn’t help that fact. The other kids loved pointing it out, twisting it and throwing it into her face.
Simone walked quickly and purposefully toward her destination, the antique store. It was simply called Antiques by everyone because the red awning decreed it and so it was. The handmade sign on the window claimed the name Antiques and Oddities. There were very few other people outside, a couple of groups of kids noisily making their way home from school, a woman running out of the dry cleaners trying to hold all the plastic wrapped and stiff with starch clothes being whipped in all directions by the wind, and some suited business men staggering drunkenly and loudly out the door of the popular lunchtime bar, The Rusty Nail.
She had noticed a “Help Wanted” sign displayed in the window of the Antique shop the other day on her way home and had decided that she’d apply. The shop had been there forever, everyone said so. Not many other stores could boast such success. Businesses came and went regularly leaving many empty buildings along the main street deserted. Rumors and gossip circulated, silly stuff about the owner, claiming he was a sorcerer or some other ridiculousness and that the store was full of magical items. Simone always rolled her eyes at the silliness of people. She wasn’t very worried about all the talk anyways, she needed something to do after school so she wouldn’t feel so lonely and also, the thought of having her own spending money was very appealing. Her parents were rarely home, oftentimes they’d stumble in around the time when she was just starting to wake up for school. She never did quite understand what they did at night, they were lawyers not vampires. Having a place to go after school, besides home, seemed like a really good option to Simone. She hoped the job was still available, although she had a hunch that it was.
The store was empty, not a person in sight. Ancient reindeer bells and squeaky hinges complained of company as Simone pushed the door open. Strange that it stayed in business, no one ever seemed to pay much notice to it let alone go inside to add to their personal antique collections. She grabbed the sign from the window and walked around, looking for a sign of life.
A large man, a little bent with age but still sturdy and sure-footed, greeted Simone with a grunt. He was surrounded by a halo of white hair everywhere, his head, his face. The similarities to her childhood thought of what G-D looked like was uncanny. If he had on a white rope with a gold belt, she would think she was standing before Him. In a bit of awe, she held out the Help Wanted sign to let him know she was here for the job.
He took the sign from her outstretched hand and glanced from it to her, smiled broadly and nodded.
“It’s once a week, every Thursday. Come right after school. $50 a week. Can you start this Thursday, I have a big shipment being delivered and could use the help?” His voice sounded as though it belonged to a younger man, not someone as old as the antiques he surrounded himself with. “Perhaps I’ll be able to use you more often if this works out.”
“Um, sure. Yeah, OK. Great, but, don’t I need to fill out an application or anything?” She felt so small and safe next to the old man and was thrilled he hired her so quickly.
“No, that’s not necessary. You’re the only one who has applied so it’s yours. Like it was meant to be, no? No hard work, just lots of it. Cleaning the antiques carefully. Inspecting and logging the new pieces in and tagging them. I’ll train you as we go along. I’ll buy you dinner every Thursday, I know your parents work late into the night.”
“You know my parents?” They had never mentioned the antique store owner but, then again, her parents really didn’t talk much to her about anything except a quick hello, good night or wear your coat, it’s going to be cold today. She figured that her mom wanted her to wear a coat so that she wouldn’t run the risk of getting sick and having to go to the doctor. That would mean a few hours off of work for her mom and that never made her mom very happy. The daughter of workaholics, she felt as though she was mostly in their way, not truly wanted, just dealt with.
“Of course I do, my dear child. I know everyone in this town, I’ve been around pretty much since the beginning of time.” He chuckled softly at his private joke and walked off to the back of the store, “See you Thursday, Simone.”
“OK. See you Thursday.” She replied to dead space, he disappeared somewhere into the back recesses of the antique store, realizing she didn’t even know her new bosses name.
She glanced around to briefly inspect the merchandise closest to her. Nothing seemed all that interesting, just very, very old and worn. She tucked herself into her hoodie and walked to the dusty glass front door. No one was around which meant she’d be able to walk home in peace.
She bowed her head down to brace herself for the cold wind, which seemed to have picked up a bit while she was inside the shop. She took a deep breath, opened the door and walked into the wind toward home where there would probably be no one wondering why she was coming home later than usual from school.
Simone walked slowly in the direction of her house. A few cars passed but the street was fairly quiet. Most were probably warm inside doing homework, hanging out with friends or Internet surfing, none of which were much of Simone’s thing. She didn’t have many friends, aside from Iris, her best and only friend but she was in Florida visiting family and wouldn’t be back for another week.
Iris was the complete opposite of Simone in every way. She was perky, happy and popular. They’d been friends since Kindergarten and whether they stayed friends out of habit or out of true friendship, it didn’t matter, friends to the end is what they always said. 11 years and going strong.
No one made fun of Iris for being friends with Simone but she was sure it was questioned when she wasn’t around. No one ever bothered Simone when she was with Iris, either. It was a nice reprieve, those moments when she was left alone. Neither of them really cared that they were called “The Odd Couple”, that was one that made them both laugh.
Thinking about Iris made Simone even lonelier. She always dreaded when Iris and her family went to Florida because they always went for a month, the week before Winter Break to the week after New Years. She knew that when she arrived home, there would be no one there to greet her and Iris wasn’t around to come keep her company. There would be no dinner cooking in the oven and no parents having a drink at the dinner table, catching up on the day. Most of the time, Simone just felt like there was absolutely no one in the world who really cared about her except for Iris and that made her feel impossibly sad. Thankfully, she wasn’t prone to depression because she really believed that, if she was, she’d probably have grounds to off herself and leave behind a really venomous suicide note full of blame and finger pointing.
Instead of suicide and being a depressed kid, she simply went through the motions of school, art class on Mondays and dance on Wednesdays; which always surprised her when her parents showed up to her recital, smiling proudly and taking pictures. She tried her hardest to get good grades and always made Honor Roll, she knew that it would be one of the only ways she would be able to get away from this place, go to college and never come home. She looked forward to Fridays when she hung out with Iris and weekends when she didn’t have to deal with anyone from school at all. She just went about her somewhat lonely life, hoping that someday things would turn around for her. In some way. She was hopeful, always hopeful.
With a new job at a mysterious Antique store full of gossip and rumors, she wondered if maybe she was actually headed in the right direction.