I regret to inform you that this receipt is inaccurate—I stole Hubba Bubba, a stress ball, Revlon tweezers, and a travel sized pack of Trojan condoms. The items sit in my hoodie pocket, pressing into my stomach like the hot stones they put on your back during massages. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been to a spa.
My boyfriend, Adam, says I don’t take enough risks. Motherfucker. Today I took two: I stole that stuff and now this confession.
But please don’t tell on me.
I see you outside now on your break—Jacob, according to this receipt. Your box-dyed blonde hair—did you use your employee discount on it?—almost touches the crumpled collar of your uniform. You suck on a vape pen, so young I think of the vape as your binky. Your head dissolves into a puff of smoke. I can see your lungs shrivel with every breath. Maybe you should quit.
Do you have someone who cares for you?
Adam says I talk too much but share too little. He says I smell like Twinkies and gasoline. He says I don’t have a high enough sex drive. I’m sure you’ve met him—tall, protruding belly, beard down to his chest, stiff as overly-starched jeans, a botched scorpion tattoo on his forearm. He’s a frequent Bud Light Lime buyer. I used his phone number at checkout, and he had $11.00 in Extra Bucks.
When you check him out, do you wonder about his story? Did you look at me today and wonder about my story?
Well, now you have a glimpse I suppose.
You re-enter the store, smoke trailing behind you like a ghost.
I’m running out of room on this receipt. If you see me again in the store, blink three times so I know you remember me, that you remember this note, that you care about me. That someone cares about me.
COURTNEY CLUTE — Courtney has an MFA from the University of South Florida. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Passages North, Fractured Literary, Emerge Literary Journal, Lumiere Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, Gulf Stream Literary Magazine, Parentheses Journal, and Z Publishing’s Florida’s Emerging Florida Writers: An Anthology. Her flash fiction has been nominated for Best Small Fictions and Best of the Net. You can find her on Twitter at @courtney_clute.
Art by MARIEJULIE LAFRANCE — Bilingual, Multidisciplinary artist, MarieJulie won two art scholarships while studying for her DEC in Arts in letters. She obtained her DEC in 2012. Since 2014, as an illustrator-freelancer MarieJulie uses pencils, brushes, digital software, and fabrics as tools to express her creativity. Diagnosed as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), MJ is highly attuned to details, giving her the ability to bring a textured but flowy elegance to her work. Find out more on her website: mariejuliestudio.wordpress.com.