Angie’s eyes scan the disjointed kitchen for breakfast. She takes a handful of very stale Cheerios and rolls her eyes at the open plastic bag inside the open cardboard cereal box.
She announces to her mom that she is going out to investigate her new middle school. At this announcement, Ma doesn’t look up from the Home Shopping Network blaring from the twenty inch television.
The back door leads out to something between a porch and a den. The windows are for show but the door to the overgrown yard locks with a rusty deadbolt. Angie opens and closes that back door a couple times, in an attempt to learn the sounds of her new way out.
The stickiness of the August day hits her as she funnels the Cheerios into her mouth. Angie nearly gags and considers spitting them into the mailbox but decides against pissing off Ma on their first day.
Standing in the sloped front yard of the house, Angie reaches to her back and unhooks her bra.
“Must be 90 effin’ degrees already,” she says under her breath and tosses the bra into the mailbox.
Angie readjusts her shirt and pulls down her cut-off denim shorts. She finds an old piece of bubble gum in the back pocket and cradles it in her left hand. She looks left and looks right but of course has no idea where the middle school is.
“Eh, screw it.”
All the houses look the same as she walks by; awnings from the 1970s and TVs on in the front rooms. The siding is identical, just painted vaguely different hues of beige and most have an air conditioner roaring.
She kicks a patch of dried dirt as she walks and stops to watch the dust collect around her ankles.
A couple of raucous pick up trucks chug by her, most with men hanging out the passenger’s window, a few with men in the bed who pass around a forty.
“You’re a little girl with some hips,” as they whiz by.
After walking towards the only stoplight she could see, Angie strides past old men with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths and yesterday’s paper in their laps. She avoids eye contact and enters State Street Pharmacy.
Sweat has collected around her eyes but she doesn’t really notice. She is focused on her posture and lengthens her spine in an effort to mature, like someone who had finished middle school. Angie tugs at her shorts again.
She casually strolls through each aisle, pretending to be interested in a whole host of products- women’s vitamins, trail mix, Nair, and some diet shakes. She runs her hand along the nail polish display.
Everything looks like it has been on the shelf for at least a decade. She eyes the huge, antiquated records book the elderly pharmacist writes in. It feels as though there is a thin film of dust covering the contents of the store.
Angie rounds the corner into aisle seven. She thinks she sees what she is looking for but is hit in the face by her own naivety. She feels her face redden and redden again as she sees the cute boy stocking shelves walking towards her.
She tries to maintain her posture and composure but she beelines for the door and lets it swing shut behind her, the bells ringing as she unwraps the bubble gum she forgot she was holding and pops it into her mouth.
Back on the sidewalk, Angie kicks what must be the eighth Mountain Dew can she has seen today, and turns to you, her eyes narrow and she says, “what the fuck is this place?”
Your silence is sincere in that since you moved here 22 months ago, no one has yet answered that question for you .
“Alright, shit. I didn’t mean to scare you,” as she flicks your large hoop earring, “well, you at least know where I can get some tampons around here?”
And then Angie looks you up and down and blows a bubble with her gum that looks like it won’t ever pop.