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All Is Dull at the Kum & Go

Makaila McGonigal

“It’s not that I let the dog lick it,” the woman at the counter with the sling said. “She just gets after it and won’t stop.”

Past the woman and the attendant and Little Debbie and the slushie machines with their twirling faces, Lexi shook the locked beer cooler. Lexi wore a pair of orange basketball shorts and had once crushed a boy’s pinkie in her fist. Her fake ID said HarleyMarie Ross. I was sleeping over but we’d snuck out, after curfew. Lexi was buying beer for us to drink in the playground behind her mother’s apartment. She’d done it once before and we fell asleep yin yang, toe to nose, both grounded, whatever that meant.

The Kum & Go was down the street from the only Dunkin’ Donuts I’d ever seen. They had iced coffees big enough to fit my forearm. I wanted to go there. I wanted to sneak back in with donuts and watch Supernatural on Lexi’s bed. Lexi wanted to drink beer.

She rattled the door again. Her whole family was full of rage. My mom talked about them like adjectives, “Well, you know, they’re Turtles.” Lexi kept trying to bully the lock. She liked Stephenie Meyer and beating the ass off girls who got salty. I liked being sad and high. She was my muscle and I was her dealer. Also, I’m super smart, which doesn’t help at all. I warded off razors and pills with my library card.

“Fucking horseshit. Hey, jackwagon,” Lexi waived her hand at the clerk, who had narrow wrists and terrible hair. He kept looking my way. “Hey, why is this closed?”

“It’s 12.”

Lexi looked at her phone then visibly flexed. I’d seen her whip a girl’s mouth in the locker room with a knee brace for saying she had big shoes. The girl, bleeding, had knocked me over and Lexi caught me one-armed. Lexi made me feel fragile.

The clerk said, “It’s 12. That means no beer.” He looked my way.

I saw the bad possibility spiral out in front of me. Lexi chucking a can of Bing in a frozen line to the clerk’s bad hair, the clerk innocent like Germans and pipeline workers. Us running out the door, the clerk one-eyed marking Lexi’s height. The cops take me in long enough to put my parents in a bad way moneywise, because we’re in a bad way moneywise. They put Lexi on a raft to the end of her life. She was a Valkyrie. I wanted her to bearhug me between two six-packs and run me safe to the playground behind her drunk mom’s apartment whispering “gay” in my ear.  I pinch her arm. I say, “Let’s go get sixty donuts.”

At the counter, the woman with the sling kept telling the clerk, “I guess it’s healing, I don’t know. It feels like it’s burning all the time.”