I spent my late teens dusting antacid bottles and condom boxes (quickly, before the boss could crack a dirty joke) in a strip mall drugstore. I filled out hundreds of Medicaid reimbursement forms by hand, space by space.
I watched my middle-aged coworker gaze adoringly at her husband of 20 years every day when he swaggered into the store. When she found out he was screwing her best friend, she blamed the best friend and her smiling pussy.
Friday afternoons, two wizened men came in and bought all the rubbing alcohol off the shelves. We lived in a dry county, far from anywhere that sold refined alcohol that took longer to rot your gut.
I swiped No-Doz for my best friend because we were too scared to buy real drugs from real drug dealers. Of course, back then drug dealers were your brother’s hippie friend who dropped out of school and lived in a VW bus outfitted with a bed and subwoofers blasting Lynyrd Skynyrd 24/7.
We often had tornado warnings — no sirens or texts. We knew one was coming when the sky outside turned green and hung low and smoldering just above the town, wind cussing and thunder thwacking like me, inside. The boss said we had a tornado every time I wore a dress to work. It wasn’t not true. I was a tornado-in-waiting, biding my time til I could toss that place into the green sky and eject myself right on into another world.
Charlotte Hamrick has been published in a number of literary journals including Flash Frontier, Bending Genres, Still: The Journal, New World Writing, and Reckon Review.