Lifter | Teen Ink


January 15, 2010
By seven_stones GOLD, Atlantis, Massachusetts
seven_stones GOLD, Atlantis, Massachusetts
16 articles 0 photos 45 comments

I darted down the isles of the pharmacy. It was like a dance. One to three lipstick, hair elastic, magnet. One two three greeting card one two three four chips, hair extensions, pack of bobby pins, snickers bar. I slipped them into my tote bag easily. This was my playground. Everything was so familiar. The gently purring fridge housing icy soft drinks, the hair clips and accessories dangling from plastic nooses on iron hooks in the beauty isle. The thumbprint size wads of Technicolor gum stuck to the floor like dots on a twister game board and the screeching air conditioning system that sounded like a cat clawing up a tin roof. I breathed in the smell of the place. It smelled musty and medicinal with a veil of so much fabreez that it hung heavy and unmoving in the air. I had been shoplifting here for two years. My fingers closed on a bottle of nail polish that I knocked into my bag with the lazy flick of a wrist.
The employees never noticed. They were all pimply teenagers with fringy hair covering their eyes, it was incredible that they could see through their curtain of hair to text, which they did constantly as the sat behind the desk. Beth was here again today. She sat with her shoulders angular and hunched and one earbud of her ipod in her ear. You could hear the fuzzed crackle of indecipherable music exerted from it. She was so skinny that her collarbone seemed serrated and razor sharp, threatening to puncture her pale skin. She wore a too big tan polo and khakis that seemed wrinkled and creased into conflicting diagonal patterns like frost on a window. Her fingers fluttered and jumped on the keyboard of her phone like a butterfly with a broken wing attempting to lift itself of the ground. It was a rather peculiar sight. Beth seemed so animated in texting that her knobby, sinuous elbows smacked against the plastic counter as her hands moved up and down. Her sheet of black hair fell in front of her, swaying with the movement of her body, so you could not see her rather unattractive face. She must have got an amusing text because her face lit up and she made a smile, revealing an intricate latticework of dental aid including braces. She was even more unattractive when happy because she wrinkled her nose and all that pimply pale skin ruffled up on itself and her tiny brows, which were over plucked and hair thin, spread apart to the sides of her triangular shaped face. The pharmacy was silent except for the air conditioning, the faint music, the pitter patter smack of Beth's elbows and the tapping of my heels as I ran nervously down the isle, pumped with adrenaline. I tossed items into my bag faster and faster. It didn't matter what they were. Some were clothes not my size, foundation that didn't match my skin, glasses even though I see fine. I just needed the thrill, the items were worthless. I looked back at Beth. She was still texting. Too easy.
As it inched closer and closer to three more and more people trickled in. There was a lady with a sad scrunched face. She would walk in and buy some bottled water each day. She would walk through the isles first though, looking at everything. Picking things up and squinting skeptically at them. She walked fast, her shoes heavy, smacking the ground. She walked so fast that you couldn’t even hear a tapping of her strides, it was just like one long continuous heavy noise. It would go on forever as she dragged her feet with alarming speed, the sounds of her steps bleeding together into that awful metallic siren of a noise. Continuous like someone screaming who never seemed to come up for air. I didn't like the water bottle lady, or her metal bottomed shoes. There was also a group of kids. They would come in and argue loudly with each other. Usually many were conjoined by ipod earphones that they were sharing. They laughing and drowned out any noise. But there would also be so many awkward silences between them, their usual volume jut making them more obvious. They seemed still in that awkward stage of social ignorance, their conversations stopping and starting without warning and having no relevance to each other.
Of all these people I was probably the last one would suspect. First off, I am thirty eight. I am well dressed and tidy. I am also painfully average. I know that this is the part ware I tell what I look like. Ware I tell you that I have long yellow hair or sparkling green eyes or something remarkable, but that would be a lie. I am average height, average weight. I have the average hair color, eye color, face shape. You could say that I am more of an absence of a person then a real presence at all. But I am observant. I can pick apart an image, a situation and disassemble it in my head. I can take all the little pieces and look at each one. Each tiny detail, each tiny fragment is important. My mind darts from place to place, I used to think I was crazy. I tell myself I am not crazy. I am observant. I am observant. I also have a good memory. I look at something or smell something or feel something or sometimes all at once, and something turns in my mind and I remember it. It most likely is nothing of importance to anyone else, but sometimes the details are painfully important to me. I take all my memories and I put them in a box in my head. When I am alone or upset I open the box and take out all my lovely little memories and spread them out around me. I can go through them one by one and relive them, and they are a comfort to me. The smell of a thick rubber raincoat, how little doubled over buds of carpet feel under my fingertips, the bleeding screeching sound of the water bottle lady’s screeching footsteps. I used to think I was crazy. But I just have a good memory. My mind works in different ways. Nobody could every understand the way my brain works, I don't even. It's like this foreign awful thing that isn't even a part of me. It controls my movements and makes me steal and cry over things that don't upset most people.

I floated down the isles softly. Each item I slipped in was another firework in me. A jolt of nervous bubbling frenetic energy that swallowed up the chance of any remorse for what I was doing. It made nothing else matter but the thrill. Once I lifted so much nail polish I painted each nail a different color. That week I found any excuse to flutter my hand or just unfurl my fingers like a fan in a slow syrupy wave. My bag had grown heavy. I swung my weight and turned on the axis of my pointy heel and walked calmly towards the door. I quickened my pace as I always did before I pushed open the heavy door, eager to burst out into the parking lot unscathed. I walked slightly faster, like when you get a running start before you jump of the diving board, just to prove to the others watching that you aren't afraid of the cold water.

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This article has 3 comments.

509_daisy said...
on Apr. 21 2010 at 6:38 pm
509_daisy, Concord, Hawaii
0 articles 0 photos 7 comments
this is really good, you have such a gift. The subtle way that you depicted the woman. I felt like I knew her, and it is so harshly honest.... the description is incredible.

on Apr. 11 2010 at 8:18 am
seven_stones GOLD, Atlantis, Massachusetts
16 articles 0 photos 45 comments
tell me wut u people think! I can't grow if I get no feedback!!!!!

on Jan. 23 2010 at 10:07 am
seven_stones GOLD, Atlantis, Massachusetts
16 articles 0 photos 45 comments
this isn't really a story... it was supposed to be more of an exercise or study of a character. I like it though.... maybe I will write something with her in it. I tried to make her sort of unstable... so you don't know if there si something mentally wrong or she is just different. I think this kinda sketch of a character is interesting... it's just one of my juicy little confections...