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right, so from the beginning. i woke up late becuase i was tired. i go to bed way too late. the bus was running a few minutes late, so i still managed to catch it and get there with time to spare. i went to the bathroom. on my way out, this black girl came in. i think that could have been christine's black girl. maybe christine is here! so instead of clocking in, i walk the aisles. i go to the back and walk the last half, looking for her. she's nowhere to be found, and with each aisle i check, i'm doubting myself more and more. i stink at recognizing people. it took weeks of working with them before i could tell jp from tyrone. and i still can't tell monique from aleesha, and they've both worked there longer than me. that's pitiful. but i've seen christine's black girl what, twice? and i think i can recognize her? i'm just saying that becuase i want christine to be here. i know she's not. so i don't check the last half of the store, and i go clock in. teena gives me my drawer and tells me to go to 5. there's already customers in line, becuase mark just left and i'm taking over for him. so as i head over there with my drawer, christine walks towards the service desk. i want to kick myself in the fucking head. if i had just checked the second half of the store... auuurgh. i know i don't have a chance now. it's a saturday afternoon. the place is packed. i'm not getting a break anytime soon... fuck this. the girl comes back up front from the bathroom and is talking to christine and i know that was her. why don't i fucking listen to myself when i'm right? i only ever listen to me when i'm wrong. i watch them. christine is hot. there are voices in my head. christine, talking last weekend in a happy voice, saying my baby is coming next weekend. and jim, telling me that christine has sex with that black girl. and christine, telling me no, she lives two hours away. obviously, this is her baby. i don't think there's any other possible conclusions to draw from all the evidence. her baby is here. in my mind, i see their reunion. there's a knock on christine's door. since terrie is out of town this weekend, christine is alone. christine rushes to the door, opens it. the girl steps inside, the door shuts behind her, and they throw their arms around each other, tumble to the ground. their bodies press together. in a fit of passion, they rip each other's clothes off, leaving nothing but skin on skin... dark on light... who needs porn videos when you have my mind? make my head stop thinking. i should have walked the rest of the fucking aisles. how many times am i going to blow my chance? but while i'm yelling at myself, hearing voices, and viewing porn videos in my mind, i'm also thinking that there's a chance that she'll come back tonight. the last time i was here and this girl was here, they came twice. once in the afternoon, and once later in the evening. i'm here pretty late tonight. i could have another chance...

jim is here. that's all i can say about him, becuase he did an excellent job of avoiding me. i never even saw him. i only know he's here at all becuase i heard him call a few people over the intercom. marie is also here, but i guess she embarrassed me enough yesterday, becuase today, she doesn't say a word to me all day.

teena is here at first and she laughs when she sees me. yesterday, marie asked what music i listened to. i told her everything. she asked what my favorite was, and i told her probably rap. she laughed and said she couldn't picture me listening to rap. i joked 'what, why not? dude, i'm a thug.' she thought this was hilarious and made me repeat it for teena. teena also thought this was great. she started asking me about missy elliott and i told her i liked her newest cd. miss e... so addictive. i have it. she just laughed. so today, she's acting all thugged out every time she talks to me. she's all like 'yo, what up dawg?' she goes home soon. so does billie, which is good becuase i'm back to mistaking her for christine from the back from far away. just the backs of their heads look the same, but that's where i look first.

nothing happens for a long time. stabbing westward joins the voices in my head, reminding me i am not your saviour. i am just as fucked as you... i take my first break outside. it's fucking cold, but i don't want to miss christine if she comes back. i sit there and shiver and plan it out. i ask 'do you know why terrie asks why i don't like jim?' and christine answers 'what do you mean?' i say 'well is she just curious, or does she think she knows the answer?' christine nods and i know she understands. she says 'well, she has a pretty good guess... but does it really matter?' and i say 'i just want to know. will you tell me what she thinks?' christine asks 'are you sure you want to know?' and i hesitate, becuase i'm not. but finally, i say yeah. she says 'well, terrie thinks you don't like jim becuase you don't like guys.' and i freeze. now i have trouble. how do i react now? i can't predict what i would do. i think this would be my whole world falling apart. i think i would want to dissappear. i think i would be afraid, really really scared, and all i can think that i would be able to do would be to cry. so, i cry. christine reaches out and gently touches my shoulder. she says 'it's ok.' i sob 'no it's not.' and she reaches out and holds me and i lean into her and cry and feel scared but safe at the same time, because christine is still here. and now i'm stuck again. becuase i don't know what happens now. when you've had a secret for 20 years, and all of a sudden, it's not a secret any more, what happens? what happens to me? and what does she do? i don't know. there's an extra cracker in my lunchable. that bothers me way more than it should.

i go inside. i get my second break. jeff and rashid and gina are back there. gina is from floral and she's tight with jane, and knew christine pretty well. i forget what we start out talking about. oh, i ask about tommy. i ask if he quit, and jeff says yeah, becuase he played too many sports and just didn't have time. then he says that tommy was laurie's grandson. i say yeah, and he went for walks with kristen. jeff asks 'kristen who?' i forget kristen's last name. so i describe her. 'the one who used to work in the office. that customer was obsessed with her, and then with christine, and now i don't know what he's going to do, since they're both gone.' gina fills in kristen's last name, and then asks about christine. she asks if she went to jail. jeff says he thinks so. i tell her just for a night or so, i think. she says that she had thought christine was banned from the store. i laugh and say 'i don't think so, becuase ever since sunday, she's been here every time i've worked.' jeff says yeah, he thought she wouldn't be allowed to come back either, but he's glad that she is. i am too, but i don't say it. gina says yeah, she figured she mustn't be, becuase she saw christine here on wednesday night, she thinks. i wonder why she comes here so much. i'm not complaining. maybe becuase this was her life. without school, and with 'her baby' living 2 hours away, maybe she had nothing to do with herself. i don't know, but i'm glad she comes.

around 7, it's slow. on game day, columbus becomes a drinking town with a football problem, and nobody wants to go to the grocery store. there is a game tonight. i am supposed to be on express, but instead i go talk to jeff on self-check. one of them is broken, and i tell him i want to play with it. so he goes and asks jane if i can, and we get a screwdriver and open it up. i reboot it and let it start up the software and it works fine. i am not a computer genius. they are just computer illiterate. they're all mighty impressed though. jane and michelle say how i must be really good with computers. right. i know where the power switch is, and i know how to start in windows. what a genius. i tried to explain but i can't really talk so i don't think they understood that i didn't have to do anything but watch it reboot and press a few buttons. then me and jeff mess around a while more, just taking stuff apart for the hell of it and putting it back together. we're bored.

then christine comes in with her black girl. (i wish i knew this girl's name. i feel pretty rude describing her as 'the black girl', like being black is all there is to her. but i don't know anything about her besides what she looks like. and that if jim is telling the truth, that christine has sex with her... and i just like 'the black girl' better than 'the girl christine has sex with.') i go insane again. i get a customer right as she walks in, so i can't get to her then. she goes to the service desk and is talking to jane. i don't want to interrupt her and jane. so i wait. then she's talking to her black girl. then the black girl goes outside to wait and christine goes back to jane and michelle. i go wait by the door, looking out into the parking lot, so i can intercept her on her way out. there are 3 other cashiers besides me, and none of them have customers either. christine is saying bye to them, that she has to go. i'm not missing this opportunity for anything. she's in a bit of a hurry, but i'll make it fast. i say as she heads to the door 'hey can i ask a question?' she stops and says sure. my head is spinning. i'm doing this and i am scared. i ask 'you know terrie?' she says yeah. i can't get out now. i already started. i wring my hands and shift back and forth and ask 'do you know why she asks me why i don't like jim?' christine smiles and says 'oh, she just likes to tease you.' she's serious. or she's a really good liar. if terrie does have a reason for asking, christine doesn't know it. my head is spinning. i am so scared. i say 'oh. she doesn't think she knows the answer?' christine answers, sounding slightly confused, 'i don't think so... i don't know... we haven't really talked about that...' as she's answering this, everything in me is falling apart. what i thought i knew was wrong. she has no idea. she looks at me, sees how bad i look and promises 'i'll talk to her.' i say ok... she goes to leave, and turns around and adds 'don't worry about it, loser.' not just tossing it out there like she's making little of my worries. like she really means it. i don't know. she's sincere. like she's honestly worried about me worrying. she does care. she is nice. but she has absolutely no idea. she is just as clueless as alana and katie and the whole rest of the world...

luckily, i go home in about 10 minutes. i struggle through the rest of the night, fighting the urge to kick everything i see. when i turn in my drawer for the night, jane takes it from me and asks, in a voice like you might use with a seven-year-old, 'loser, did you tell teena that you were a thug?' something about the question and the voice she used to ask it makes me laugh. i tell her yeah. jane says 'she thinks that is sooooo hilarious... she's telling everyone...' michelle asks 'a what?' i answer 'i told her i'm a thug,' and they both crack up. they tell me bye, still smiling, and i leave. the bus doesn't come for a half hour, but i need to get out of this store, even if it is freezing outside...

at the bus stop, i pace back and forth in the shelter. i'm like a wild animal in a cage. i ignore cars stopped at the light, and do whatever i feel like doing. i talk to myself. 'christine is going to talk to terrie. is she really? does it matter? christine doesn't know. throw the stupid idea of telling her the truth out of your mind forever. she knows nothing more than anybody else. if you walked up to her and flat-out told her the truth, i'm sure she wouldn't ignore you. she would probably be nice, and she would probably care, but for god's sake, so would alana. or katie. or nikki. or lauren. or chris. the only difference between her and them is that she's hot. and that's not a good reason to choose her over them. in fact, it would be a very bad reason to choose her over them.' then, i try to deal with the voices in my head. first, i hear jane's hilarious question loser, did you tell teena that you were a thug? i laugh outloud. but then comes christine don't worry about it, loser. i kick the plexiglass walls of this little shelter. i cannot save you. i can't even save myself... i punch the wall. i am not your saviour. i am just as fucked as you... i slam my body against it. to say that i am upset would be a major understatement. and then i hear jane again and i laugh. the only thing that keeps me from really scaring myself is that i know i'm being insane. if you're really insane, you don't know it, and i know that it's not normal to hear voices and and laugh at yourself and talk to yourself and beat yourself up on the walls of the bus stop. that means there's still hope for me, right?

i ride the bus back here and i'm by myself for about two seconds, when alana comes back all upset becuase she got in another fight with her boyfriend. she says 'i'm leaving.' i ask where she's going, and she say she doesn't know. i would worry, but this is kind of like the boy who cried wolf... alana gets mad at him all the time, for the dumbest stuff. she locks herself in her room and pouts and refuses to speak to anyone. then he comes over and me or molly let him in, give him a paperclip, and he picks the lock to her room. he goes in, and they come out again the next morning, back to normal. we don't even put the paperclip away anymore. we just leave it stretched out, in the kitchen, and he knows where it is. we've only lived here like 3 weeks, and we've already reached that point. that has to tell you what a common occurance this is. the only difference is that usually, she locks herself in her room, and this time she's leaving. i don't know though, i guess i just get sick of every little thing being the biggest deal. i don't make a big deal to anybody about anything. like hi, i just spent 20 minutes beating myself up on the bus stop walls, but when i get back here, around people, i act normal becuase i know that compared to the world trade center being bombed and the starving children in third-world countries, and all the other big problems, the fact that i hate my life is rather meaningless. and becuase someday, i am going to come out of the closet, and that is going to be a big problem. i don't want to waste all people's worries now becuase i'm sure going to need their support then. and becuase i am in control. and becuase i don't feel like i need people worrying about me constantly. she thinks that every time something goes wrong in her life, the world has to know it, and has to worry about her. so i worried at first. and i asked, and tried to talk to her, and told her i would do what i could to help, and asked if she wanted me to talk to him... the first 3 or 4 times. but then molly and i just got sick of it. i don't know how he can not get sick of it. anyway, so then lauren and him show up. they come running inside and i tell them she's not here. they panic. they start saying what do i mean, she's not here? and that she is here, and i'm just covering for her. so i tell the whole story, as i know it. 'she came here, said you called her stupid, and said she was leaving. i asked where she was going, and she said she didn't know. she got a thicker coat and left.' they start yelling at me. 'how could you let her just leave????' i ask 'how could i not?' they are mad at me. i tell them, with as little sarcasm as possible, 'look, she'll be fine. she just decided that locking herself in her room wasn't a drastic enough way to pout, and you weren't worrying enough that way. i'm sure she'll be home in a little bit, and you can tell her how much you worried about her, and you can kiss and make up just like always.' i wish molly was here becuase i know she would agree with me. i'm not good at sticking up for myself. when people get mad, i back down becuase i don't like to make people mad. they are mad at me so i shuffle off to my room and play pete. sweet daze. drugstore alibi. burn. untied. halfway through cold cocked, she comes back. i turn pete. up so i don't have to hear them shower her with 'ohhhhh are you ok?' but i still hear. she goes to her room and he follows her. lauren comes in to talk to me and asks if they always fight over such dumb things, and tells me the whole story about what happened (basically, they both said dumb things, and she overreacted...). i show her the paperclip and tell her how it usually works, and she doesn't really say much. she's not ready to side with me, but i think she sees how my side isn't really so awful. now lauren is out celebrating the win, molly is still gone, and alana and her boyfriend are locked in her room for the night. and life goes on.