Sam let the subject drop and finished ringing up my stuff. I took my bag and sat in a bare corner of the store, glaring up at the ceiling as if its cheap plaster tiles were to blame for all of my problems.
I sighed, trying to ignore the elderly woman giving me dirty looks out of the corner of her eye.
I was sick of it. Absolutely sick of it! For the last two years, no one gave me a chance anymore. They took one look at me and assumed I was a terrible person not worth their time. Like this old woman.
I say one or two bad words, and that makes me some insignificant trouble maker. It didn't occur to me that the broken nose and dried blood everywhere was also part of the conclusion. Either way, I wouldn't have cared.
As the woman exited the store, she gave me a wide berth of space, avoiding me as if I were a contagious disease. I glared at her as she passed, and she quickened her pace, almost running back to her car.
"Twenty minutes left," Sam announced impatiently, as if he couldn't wait for time to speed up and let him off his shift.
It was just the opposite of how I felt.
I wanted time to slow down, stop, and rewind ten years, back to sunnier days. Back to when my dad and sister were still with me, and my only worries were if the picture I drew for mom was alright. Back to when people used to look at me and smile, when everything was perfect.
I closed my eyes, sighing, and once again forgot Sam's presence. I was transported through my mind, to a distant memory that I would never forget.
It was a warm evening, the sky growing dark around the edges of the world. Mom was at work, and dad had just got home and was paying the baby sitter.
He came into my and my sister's room carrying two black boxes behind his back, one thin and long, the other portly and fat.
My father wrapped his arms around my scrawny shoulders, hugging me close, and handed me the small thin box. Opening it, I saw it was a silver bracelet with an angel's wing for a single charm. I smiled and watched him walk over to my sister and hand her the big box.
She opened it up and shouted with glee. It was another candle. My sister Elizabeth loved candles. She had a collection of twenty three candles resting on a shelf next to her bed. She placed the candle right on shelf with the others and watched as Dad took out a lighter from his pocket and lit the new candle, then the ten of the others.
He got up, turned off the light and came back to my bed, fastening the bracelet around my small wrist. It was too big, but I didn't care. I laid back on my pillow in anticipation and listened closely as he said our night time prayer.
"Now I lay me down to sleep, pray the lord my soul to keep. And guide me through the starry night and wake me up with morning light. If I die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take."
He kissed me on my forehead, pulled my covers up to my chin and went to the other side of the room, repeating the prayer for my sister. As he gave her a hug, I looked over at her with envy. I wasn't sure why, but I was jealous of my sister just then. Maybe it was a deep foreboding I didn't understand at the time; I understood it now though.
She got the last hug.
He left our room and shut the door. My sister looked over at me and smiled, two of her front teeth missing. We began to giggle at nothing and she threw her pillow at me.
I laughed and threw it back. Catching it, she threw it back at me again. I copied her, but missed. Instead of going to my sister, the pillow flew into the shelf, knocking down the candles. Broken glass littered the floor, but that wasn't what had our interest.
The new candle, unbroken and still lit, rolled over to the pillow that now rested on our hard wooden floor.
"Hey, Claire. You ready to go?" Sam asked, retrieving me from my sad reverie.
"Yeah," I said, pushing myself up off the floor.
We walked out into the parking lot together after Sam finished locking the doors and got into his old, beat up Oldsmobile.