This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
One Year Ago
He made his last sale on a bitter cold Thursday night.
Seventeen-year-old Marcus Anthony Gooding stood under a streetlight on the curb, his elongated shadow cast on the sidewalk. The howling wind was the only sound that broke the silence, and everyone seemed to be asleep at 12 a.m. It must’ve been below the freezing point because his fingers and toes were numb.
The only living soul he could see was a gorgeous prostitute standing across the street from him. She leaned against the pole of the bent Castle Avenue street sign, waiting for a fellow to meet her in a cheap motel. The chilling wind smacked the back of Marcus ′ neck and stung his ears. He threw his gray hoodie over his head and watched the prostitute from her feet to her mane of black hair, tempted by her beauty. She ran her fingers through her long, black curls of hair, lit a cigarette in her mouth, and blew a cloud ring from her full, blood-red lips.
Despite the frigid temperature, she wore a short, leopard-printed dress with black fishnet sleeves. The woman also wore fishnet stockings with toe-out pumps that made her look even taller. Marcus could tell she was cold because of her hunched shoulders, but she tried to act like the cool weather didn’t phase her. No girl had ever eyed him the way she did, and especially not a grown woman. Although he was just a teenage boy, he was certain the lady was well in her late twenties.
Marcus felt sorry for her, but more than that, he felt sorry for himself. The prostitute puffed her cigarette again and exhaled, the smoke vanishing in the air. He knew he was no different than she was, and no better either. They were only selling different things, and who could say which was worse?
The high only lasted so long anyway, until his customers had to face the reality of life again. Besides, he wanted to live a long time, so because he knew their effects, he didn’t even take drugs himself.
He was just a salesman.
The rotten pusher.
A sporty car with tinted windows stopped by the curb, a cloud of exhaust blowing from the muffler.
Marcus walked to the driver’s window. He grimaced at the gas fumes tingling his nose, his eardrums vibrating from the deafening beat of the rap music on the car radio. The driver, a big black man wearing a New York Giants jersey and gold chains, rolled down the window. Marcus checked for any police who may be on the watch. Then he snuck a bag of dope out the pocket of his sweat jacket, passing it through the open window.
He saw a frightened, little girl in the back seat, with colorful ball barrettes on her puffs of hair, covering her ears with her hands. The girl looked no older than four or five and was whining and crying. Her large, brown eyes fringed with long lashes looked right at him, as if she was pleading with him for help. He had never seen anything like it. The child was small and frail, making Marcus, for once, care for another’s feelings besides himself.
“Daddy, I’m hungry,” she said, rubbing her watery eye with her small fist.
“You’ll have to wait,” the man said in a deep voice, glancing at the child over his gangster shades in the rearview mirror. He looked at the scrawny, teenage boy standing along his car and licked his index fingertip. The man opened the plastic baggie, dabbed a sample of dope, and licked it, savoring the bitter taste.
He passed Marcus a roll of money out of the window. “Here, Mars. Keep the change.” Marcus took the bundle of dollars and stuffed it in the pocket of his sweat jacket.
The big man flashed a peace sign. “Take care, kid.”
Marcus hesitated. His lips sealed shut, eyeing from the man to the little girl in the back seat. He forced his attention back to the man and gave a weak smile.
“Uh, yeah. Peace out,” he said with a small nod.
Rolling up the window, the man muffled the child’s whimpering. Then he drove away, but Marcus felt terrible this night, thinking of the hungry little girl.
He watched the black car disappear in the distance. “Never again.”
PaulSenkel: If you like Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey, especially The Final Odyssey, then you will probably also enjoy this book. I definitely did.It does, however, address a more adolescent public than the above-mentioned book.I enjoyed the story and finished it in a few days. The overall situation on earth an...
dd1226: I love reading about other countries and I think this story about Cambodia after Polpot creates awareness of the tragedy that happened there and the actions of the U.N. to hold elections. The heroine of the story is easy to relate to, a modern, middleaged woman looking for an adventure, wanting t...
aeratheninja: Interestingly enough, this story touches on different psychological states and was very informing, on top of being a solid story. Although somewhat predictable, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this; I could feel the fear and the frustration of the characters, and was happy when they were happy.Even ...
ernbelle: When I first started this story I was a little unsettled by all of the information that appears in the prologue, and wasn't sure if I would continue. However, I am very glad I did. The plot was very well thought out and really interesting. There were not any page breaks or markers to acknowledge ...
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Sammi Chan: THIS WAS AMAZING!!! My favorite part of this story was the slow build of Merlin and Arthur's relationship. Their relationship was rlly nicely fleshed out and so good :) The way that you handled the magic reveal was super enjoyable. I rlly liked the switching POVs. Good!Mordred was cute and I'm rl...
Lydia Sherrer: I first read The Speaker almost a decade ago when I first discovered author Sandra Leigh. I loved it then, and I still love it now. It is a simple, easy read, yet deep in meaning and rich in storyline. I do not know what kind of research or prior knowledge Leigh has of First Nation tribes, but sh...
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FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."