Chapter 1Mature

The flash of the neglected neon "OPEN" sign cast moving beams of light into the dark salon. Faith stared at the flat stomach of her reflection on the store's window as she walked passed. She startled when one strip-mall store slid into another, and the darkness disappeared. A few more measured paces, and she pulled open the door of the drug store, slowly, fighting the urge to dash away at the sound of the bells on the door tinkling.

She closed her eyes and breathed evenly, perfectly, as she walked to the back, and after some amount of pacing through the aisles, she found what she was looking for, and began walking back to the register.

She placed it on the rubber conveyor belt without making eye contact with the cashier. She willed it to move faster, faster to the cashier, faster into the bag, and faster out of the store, feeling the eyes of the cashier judging her. She just stood there, head down, staring at her feet, and wondering what was taking so long, when the cashier interrupted her thoughts.

"Excuse me miss, that will be 15 dollars?" she asked sheepishly. "Would you like to pay with cash or credit?" Faith, startled and thoroughly embarrassed pulled a wad of small bills out of her back pocket and began to count them out.

"Shit!" she said quietly. She stared at the two fives and four ones in her hands and began choking back tears. The cashier, who looked about twenty, with piercings all up one ear, a light blue streak in her hair and a forgiving look (that Faith would have seen is she hadn't been staring at her feet), didn't mind that Faith was short by a dollar. 

"That's OK." she told her. "Whatever you have." surprised, Faith glanced up, but quickly looked down again, and placed the money on the counter. She listened to the sound of the box dropping into the plastic bag, which she reached out for, and walked out the store, cringing once again at the sound of the bell. She set off towards home, a few blocks over, and had to wipe back tears from her eyes.

A few endless lines of beachy suburban houses later, Faith climbed the tree up to her window, and swung back inside. She slung herself onto the bed before getting up the nerve to head to the bathroom. She slowly pulled the plastic stick from the box, and began to fuss with it, trying to figure out the logistics.

In fifteen minutes, after the positioning, the fussing, readjusting, and the waiting, she sat on the closed toilet lid and worked up the nerve to peek. She closed her eyes, and turned it over to look for the pink line.

The End

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