Twenty-OneMature

This is the longest day in the history of days. Seconds feel like hours, minutes are weeks, and I just want to curl up into a ball and sleep.

I can’t stop yawning, my blinks are nearing nap length, and I can’t seem to concentrate on anything. I tried putting out the new stock earlier but the alphabet handed me a dominating defeat.

I could really use a customer to talk to but the last one left two… oh man, only one hour ago? If I could stand the taste of coffee I would’ve ordered a keg of the stuff by now. I wonder if I could get a family sized hot chocolate delivered…

I rummage through DJ’s record stash trying to find the most upbeat, energyful album… no, that’s not right. What’s the word… energizing… energetic! There we go.

“I am not going to make it,” I tell the clock. It mocks me by moving even slower. “Stop doing that you son of a -”

The sound of the door opening cuts me off – luckily for that arrogant time keeper; I was about to really let it have it. I turn to greet my newest customer, reminding myself not to scare them away by being obviously desperate for company, but my words die a strangled death in my throat.

“Hi J, how are you doing?” TJ asks from the doorway, glancing around the empty store. I can’t think of a good reply so I settle for shrugging. “That good huh… looks like you could use some company.”

I nod and sit down on my stool, waving her over. My thoughts are refusing to form a sensible sentence so I wait it out, hoping she’ll take the conversational lead.

“You look like a dog’s breakfast; are you coming down from something?” Oh that TJ, never one for subtlety.

“I haven’t slept at all the last two nights,” I say – coherently, I think.

“You must have taken some nasty stuff J – you gotta be careful, the scene in this city is getting dangerous,” she says with… concern? I blink a few times, trying to make sure I heard her right. “Do you want me to call a doctor?”

“No, I’m just tired TJ,” I say. I consider re-thinking my next words but give it up as too much effort. “I’m clean, by the way – for a couple weeks now.” Has it really been that long?

TJ frowns slightly, her eyes scan my face. It takes me a few seconds to realize she’s trying to figure out if I’m lying to her. Anger is too big an effort right now, so I attempt a scowl instead.

“That’s wonderful J, I’m so proud of you!” She leans over the counter and hugs me hard; my scowl melts into a goofy grin. I manage to tone it down to a satisfied smile before she backs off and holds me at arms length. “Is that why you’re not sleeping, has it been that hard for you?”

“It’s been okay, actually. A weak moment here and there, but generally good,” I say. “The sleepless nights thing is a long story.”

“I’ve got plenty of time and you’ve got no customers,” she says with one of her more captivating smiles. “So tell me.”

So I do. It feels really good to get it all out of my head, to set my worries free from the confines of my exhausted mind. It’s like… therapy, I guess.

When I finish the tale TJ is silent for a long time, but it’s comfortable, like old times. We used to sit on sidewalks together and just listen to the cars, the people, our breathing for hours – I had forgotten how much I enjoyed that.

“So you’re gonna sleep here tonight… you got a pillow or blankets?” she asks after a few minutes.

“No but it’ll be fine – just being in a secure spot will be enough to knock me out. I’m pretty sure I could sleep on this stool… if I haven’t already.”

TJ laughs a laugh that lights up her eyes and I can’t help joining in. Once I start I can’t seem to stop and before we know it we’re both laughing like fools, gasping for enough air to fuel the spasms.

After a long, long time we regain control. We sit and chat and listen to music and we are left to ourselves as the night settles onto the city outside these doors.

The End

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