Settling Down

I put the key into the ignition and as it clicks into place, anticipation radiates from my 2005 Buick Century. Cars may or may not like driving. This one, and I know this is true, likes the way the breeze moves against its sides as it cuts through it like the sharpest blade in the knife block. Nobody ever stops feeling thrill, not even my car. But it definitely has seen better times, and it slowly but surely is coming to its end. It doesn’t matter. I love driving my car.
The coffee pot on the counter beside the microwave has a two hour automatic shut off. I live with someone who wakes up exactly one hour and fifty nine minutes before me every morning. Three cabinets on the wall above the coffee pot hold nothing but different brands of the same coffee. For some odd reason, we have too many mugs to fit in the cabinet on the far right yet we put them in there anyway. Two mugs sit on top of the microwave and make small vibration sounds as I cook grits that came from a pocket of recycled paper. Sometimes they don’t vibrate, because sometimes the newly installed bar of light nailed to the underneath of the cabinets on the opposite side of the kitchen make strange popping sounds as if it’s settling or melting slightly when the heat from the bagel in the toaster rises. Those times are better. I can just move the toaster. I have nowhere to put the mugs.
I’ve only read 1/3 of the books on the bookshelf in my room but if you’d ask about it I’d say I’ve read them all twice. The closet doors belonging on the frame of the random depth in my room aren’t even there. They lie in the attic where it is too hot for me to bring them down. I never wanted them anyways. I read five articles I haven’t read before about how to find a career or how to chose one or how to make money. Does every college student do that? Am I even a real college student yet? Anyways, I sit in front of my laptop trying to find the answer to a question that never has and never will exist. Nobody can plan your future for you. I think about how I don’t have a defining moment and I don’t know if I should be worried about that. I wake up in this bedroom in the same bed I’ve been sleeping in since grade 3 and I go to work every day. I’ve never been raped or arrested or fired or in love.
Every day, around 5 but sometimes 4 because I work two jobs and one of them gives me more hours, I’m leaving my house. “See you later,” I say to my mother upon leaving and “Hey, dad,” I say to my father upon arriving. She says “drive safe” or “see you later” or “love you” or all three. He always just says “hey, Emmie.” He only comes in the house three times in the afternoon. Once at 5 when he comes home, once between 7 and 7:30 to make dinner, and lastly at 10 to fall asleep on the couch. This is where he is when I come home.
4:57 P.M. is when I step out of car into the heat of summer and walk roughly forty steps to the front door and then another forty to get to the break room where I let out a heavy sigh and punch in at 4:59 P.M.. “Hey, girl!” Most employees say to me. They don’t remember my name. Most don’t want to. Forty steps back to the front of the store. A sheet of paper with times of day written all over. Emily: 5:00-10:30. Break: 7:15-7:30. Register 2.
I follow its orders and log in to Register 2. The first shitty person of the day walks up to me and probably is on the phone and won’t answer my questions or they want another markdown on something that is already marked down or they interrupt me. Same three questions, over and over again, for five hours. “Hi, how are you today?” “Did you find everything okay?” “Would you like to save 10% and apply for our credit card?”
Over and over and over again until we close. The trash gets taken to the back with the security tags I removed from clothing all day. I straighten the shelves whose only purpose is to make people buy things they don’t need. The soda cooler gets filled with drinks. I might help out in a different department. As I take the trash to the back, I’m riding the cart like a child because usually my foot hurts too much to walk or I need something fun. Tanya is on the aisle with the towels and she’s folding the blue ones. We finally go home and I drive down the road, take a right, another right, go straight, take a left, go straight, take a right, take a right, go straight on curved roads, watch out for wild animals trying to cross the road, take a left, take a slight left, take a right, take a left. My dog sniffs my tires. I wash my face and go to bed. I write a bit or read sometimes but most times I go right to bed.
The day comes that I finally quit my job and start doing what I love. Maybe the articles did help. I don’t make a lot of money but I will if I write five novels a month. Two hundred-sixty novels a year. No more settling down. No more normal life. I don’t even care that I’m broke as hell. As long as I am far away from customers and cash registers and that deer in the woods by my house that always stares at me when I come home. I don’t know why but I always felt as though we were alike in some way. Who am I kidding, it’s just a deer. It’s nothing but an animal I almost ran over. I’m too happy and poor now to care. Now I wear a huge puffy coat in December instead of a thin sweater. Both were gifts.

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