The day was busy, just like every other. Thomas was going back and forth between restocking and checking.
One of his coworkers, Ralph, happened to be getting a cold and was going home within the hour, leaving Thomas to take his check stand and his shift. He wasn’t a huge fan of overtime, and now he had to work from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
Sighing, he texted his mother that he wouldn’t be home for dinner, and proceeded toward the stand.
By the time his lunch rolled around he was exhausted, and he still had 7 more hours to work.
The break room was deserted. No one ever spent much time there, even though the place was rather large. To Thomas the back of the store was quiet and relaxing, but to the rest of the employees it was a prison. Tommy certainly didn’t hate his job that much. He understood where they were coming from though; it was good to get out for a while. He didn’t spend every lunch period in the break room either. He sometimes left to hang out in one of the nearby diners. It didn’t matter to him, he just went with whatever he felt like that day.
Taylor strode through the doorway as Thomas got out his lunch bag.
“Hi.” Tommy yawned. Taylor was on his lunch as well, but he never spent time in the break room. He said it was too bleak for him.
“Do you want to come with me to Reuben’s?” Taylor asked.
Thomas shook his head. “I don’t really feel like walking all the way over there.”
“Oh yeah, you took Ralph’s shift, huh?”
“Yeah. Linda practically begged me to.”
Linda was there store manager who absolutely adored Thomas. She reminded him of his grandmother, so he didn’t mind her affection, even kind of liked it. His grandmother had died when he was 12, and he missed her greatly.
Thomas said nothing. Taylor removed his workers apron and grabbed his backpack before exiting the break room, leaving Thomas among his own thoughts.
While he knew or had seen nearly everyone that came through the check stands, the blonde girl now approaching he had never seen before, and she didn’t seem like the type to be visiting Riverside. She looked as if she belonged in Beverly Hills, possibly with a Chihuahua in her purse and a guy like Charlie Sheen at her side.
“Hello,” she said rather awkwardly. Her personality didn’t seem to match her looks at all. She fumbled with her purse as he rang up her groceries, all the while looking uncomfortable and upset about something.
“Hello…” He was supposed to smile and be friendly to all his customers, but there was something weird about this girl.
She finally found her wallet.
“That’ll be $36.84,” he told her. She handed him the money in a messy pile of bills and change.
“Do you live here?” she asked him.
“Yes.” He held back the need to say, of course I do, did you see any other towns around here? It would be jerky to say, and very unlike him, but something about the girl made him uncomfortable.
“Do you know where…” she pulled a paper from her pocket, “Sunrise Apartments is?”
“Sure. If you leave here and turn left out of the driveway, keep going until Birch Street and then turn right onto it. It’s on that street, you really can’t miss it. It’s like one of those Hilton places, with a huge neon sign and stuff.”
“Okay, I’ll remember that. Thanks.”
He finished bagging her groceries. “Do you need any help out today?”
“Oh, no, thank you.”
She took her bags, smiled at Thomas, and left Geil’s without another word.
By the time his shift was over, he felt as if he was going to fall over. As he approached his bike, he wondered if he really had the energy to pedal all the way home.
Instead of starting straight home, he sat down on the bench just outside of Geil’s and rested, putting his feet up and rubbing his forehead.
He could only keep up small talk with the customer for so long, and the mats in the check stand floors really didn’t help much. Since he’d worked at Geil’s for around two years now, his feet had somewhat gotten used to the near everyday labor, but today they ached like it was his first day.
After about ten minutes, he forced himself onto his feet yet again and mounted his bike.
He’d rarely rode home this late at night. He wasn’t used to the the town drenched in full night. It didn’t scare him, but it all looked so different in the dark.
He didn’t even see the girl until he hit her.