Flash Poet

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Just In Time

Have I ever mentioned

The slight glamour
That enchanted my younger
State of mind?

8 years past
When the holidays approached
I left my abode
To walk 3 blocks to the corner store

I was on a mission you see
To buy their gifts
Without prying eyes on looking
Before I even had a chance to hide

Stopped once, in and out
Found my desired items
Paid and collected
Ready to continue on the route

Alone with no supervision
On a time crunch as ‘curfew’
I wasn’t supposed to be about
But no one had to know

As long as I returned unharmed
Before they got home
Sticking to the unspoken rules
I could pull this off

Remember to never make eye contact
Keep a steady and rapid pace
Ears open and eyes on the shadows
Never stand out, it’s better to blend in

Well sticking to these golden tips
I found myself with only one concern
Too many people, best watch the ground
Guess what I had found?

There on the pavement
Laid a penny trampled underfoot
Low and behold
This one was on heads

Too young to sustain an income
Each penny was very much welcomed
Pennies make quarters
Quarters make dollars

Bending down I scooped it up
Sliding it into my pocket
Then my eye spotted another and another
Just a little further and further

Not thinking twice
I took another step
Snapped it up
Added it to a soon growing stash

Couldn’t have been more
Than a few feet
Yet I had gathered a dimes’ worth
And idly wondered if the collection was complete

The sunshine glinted off something
That was a little bit to the side
A glimmer of copper on my left
Glancing over, there had to be at least half a dollar

The pile of scattered coins
Tugged at my subconscious
Sending warning signals
I learned to heed

So before I bent back down
I had a quick look around
After all, I was outside and alone
Being in the way would never keep me safe

No one behind me, no one in front
The store fronts’ wall covered the left
Surveying the parking lot
A few people went on their own ways

But what sent alarmed chills down my spine
Was the muscular guy parked curbside
Shades on, windows down and no sound
Gaze watching me gathering pennies

I remember gasping in slight fear
Before scurrying inside
My next destination
Turning back to see if he had followed me

Three minutes past
He remained where he was
So I went deeper in the store
Thinking about what he had just seen

A middle school girl
On the streets roaming alone
Where she was
No one would have known

Bags in hand
Catching sight of the coins
A trail of pennies leading
Directly beside his perch

The bait was set
The lure had been working
Already in motion to continue
For the minute it would have taken

To be enraptured
Ripe for the capture
The future full
Of uncertain horrors

Saved by the apprehension
Once again checking for danger
Hesitation overruled
Saved by intuitive street etiquette

Scared from my unexpected
Rush of adrenaline fueled fear
I quickly gathered what I needed
And made myself scarce, straight back home

Recalling a fairytale
Of two siblings following
A trail of breadcrumbs
Becoming ensnared in a witches lair

Shuddering at my close call
I swore I would never
Fall for such tricks again
Holding dear a lesson learned just in time

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