Page 2

“Excuse me,” said a voice behind me.

I jumped, let out a small frightened squeal, and tightly grasped the pocket of my smock with both hands. I turned to find one of my regular late night customers. She was a willowy creature, tall and stick thin with long wavy brown hair, big pale blue eyes, and pillow-like lips. She was the kind of woman who could be beautiful if she only cared enough to make the effort. Usually she came in after work, wearing a dirty Taco Bell uniform. Tonight, she was dressed in a hooded sweatshirt 3 sizes too big and an old ball cap pulled down to partially conceal her face. 

“Sorry,” she mumbled under her breath.

“It’s okay; I just thought the store was empty. Guess I didn’t see you come in.” I said.

“Yeah, you looked kind of busy with the candy.” She reached up to pull her cap farther down.

“Yeah, um, did you need help with something?” I said, my face reddening. 

“I was just wondering if you could tell me how much I have left on my food stamps.” She said as she brushed a small piece of hair from her face, drawing my attention to her eyes. She had tried her best to conceal it with her hat and make up but I could see the right side of her face was swollen and bruised. Our eyes met for a brief moment and she realized that I had seen.

“Uh, no, I mean I can, but you have to buy something first.” I said. Eyes downcast, she nodded and walked towards the back of the store. 

I took a deep breath, reached into my smock and grabbed the candy bar. For a few short seconds I considered stuffing it back behind the M&Ms where I had found it. I knew the candy bar would most likely sit back there for months, only to be thrown away when someone else eventually found it. I thought of the starving children in Africa mothers always bring up when attempting to guilt their children into eating all their dinner. Yes, I decided, better for the candy to be of use, even if it was dishonest. 

The End

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