You may (or possibly may not) have noticed that I didn’t post a LJ Idol entry here last week. That’s because I took a ‘skip’ for week four (each writer is allowed two skips.) Work madness + exhaustion + sick kids = Kel didn’t write anything.
However, things being somewhat back to normal, I managed this entry for week five on the assigned topic “My Addictions.” (Three guesses where I was when inspiration struck.)
Steven comes into the store every evening at five-thirty–every evening–for his cigarettes. He’s tried to quit before, more times than I can remember, but he can’t do it. Sometimes I wonder what it is that makes it so difficult for him to give them up for good, what it is about those stinky sticks that’s so appealing? Or is it the being without them that’s so hard to take? The need, the longing, the–
Excuse me, ma’am? Oh, yes. Lotto tickets. How many? That’ll be six dollars.
–emptiness from lacking a Something that should be there, but isn’t? I can see him in my mind, clutching the pack with his strong, thick fingers, tap-tap-tapping it against his rough, calloused palm, pulling open the flip-top box, then finally extracting a single cylinder, almost with a sigh, just like it was–
Sorry sir? Milk? Yes, sir, it’s on sale this week. Three-thirty-five a gallon.
–a lifeline. Just like it was the only good thing he had in his life, a Something he looked forward to every day. Every day at five-thirty. Then he puts it to his full, beautiful lips, slightly parted, just lets it rest there. Because he can’t light it in the store. He takes his lighter out anyway, twirls it in his fingers as he walks out the door with a Goodbye and a See You Tomorrow and–sometimes–he even says my name…
The time, ma’am? Oh, the time is…it’s five-thirty-seven.
He’s seven minutes late. Seven minutes late for the Something that makes his life bearable, that helps him cope with his mundane routine, with the ordinary-ness of his existence, through the endless–
Yes, yes, yes! You do have to show me your coupon before I ring up your order!
–crowd of brainless, boring, idiots he has to deal with, day in and day out. With lotto tickets and milk prices and goddamn coupons and–
Twenty-three cents short? No I can’t help you out with that. What do you think this is, a conveninece store or a bank???
–stupid, stupid, fucking STUPID people and I wonder if he’s okay? If he’s he shaking right now, wishing he had the Something with him? Barely able to endure the need, the longing, the emptiness, the…
“Oh…hey there Steven. What? You’re late? I hadn’t even noticed.”