ONE | Just June
There’s a little paper me,
And a little paper you.
And in a pop-up population people’s problems pop up too,
But even if the whole world fell apart then we’d still make it through,
Because we’re people.
JUNIA Hollick may have hated her name just as much as she hated the warm weather. Despite her going by the nickname, June, she had never been a fan of the month, or summer in general. It was tragic, really, especially with her working in customer service. She either received comments like, “June? Like the month?” Or, “Why did you parents name you Junia?” She usually didn’t like to answer these questions. With a name like Junia, clearly her parents hated her from birth.
June, on the other hand, didn’t hate a lot of things. But, oh – did she hate summer. It might’ve been the way sweat constantly made her makeup slip off her face, causing her face to look oily. Or it could’ve been the way her shirts stuck to her body in the most uncomfortable sense. Or even the way her summer clothes showed off just too much of her body, making her already large thighs stick out of her shorts like fat sausages.
There were other reasons. None that she could think of at the top of her head.
As June continued to sweat behind her cash register, she was currently reminded of just how much summer weather made her want to pluck her eyeballs out. The air conditioner at Harbor Aid Pharmacy rarely worked, if they even had one. They were one of the best pharmacies located in the heart of Bar Harbor, leaving her to assume that there would be something in the budget to afford them a store air conditioner. (She was wrong on that one.) Seriously, even West End Drug Company had a cooling conditioner in their tiny store. Although, that store did tend to be more of a tourist spot than June’s work.
Adjusting her dark red top, June wondered just why her uniform suddenly felt so snug. She never ordered the right size clothes for herself, seeing as her size wavered between a large and an extra-large in just about everything. The tightness of her shirt combined with a fresh coat of sweat underneath her armpits was the cause of her peril. She shook her head and looked to the stack of magazines sitting to the right of her register. June never liked to stare at them for too long, knowing she’d compare herself to the celebrities on the covers, like any cliché, self-deprecating young adult would. She wondered if there was a way to control her muffin top as most celebrities did. June sometimes wore sizes smaller than usual, and although she thought they made her look better, it certainly did not help her muffin top stomach.
That was unspoken rule of curves: you would never be able to fit in one certain size.
June continued to look through the newest edition of Cosmopolitan for another half hour, knowing fully well that she probably had another task to do than manning the register. They barely had customers today anyways, due to the unfortunate weather that caused most people to play outside. Her manager had been staying up in the office for who knows how long, and June knew Michelle was doing anything but watching the store from above. She was probably playing Candy Crush on her phone, so June was going to continue flipping through the article in front of her. It was titled, “Squats: Our Worst Enemy … but also Our Best Friend?”
A hand smacked itself down on the counter in front of her. Half-expecting it to be a customer with a shitty personality, June already had her best fake smile on her face. When she realized it was just her manager, Michelle, a frown formed once again.
“What are you doing?” Michelle asked in a snarky tone. June noticed she was wearing a bright yellow shirt, almost hi-viz, that reflected off the dark tone of her skin. Michelle was frequently hit on while on duty, and June couldn’t blame her – she was pretty and could be seen from a mile away with all the vivid shirts she wore.
June blinked for a moment, looking around the store. The pharmacy looked like they were bustling in the back, despite the lack of customers present in the store. She swore she saw a tumbleweed carefully drift behind Michelle. “Manning the front store,” she answered in a bored tone.
“I asked you to stack the magazines, Junia.”
June’s expression went deadpan. “Michelle, I’ve been working here for over a year. Why can’t you just call me June?”
“Why can’t you just do the job I asked you to do?” Michelle tapped her manicured nails against the counter, mouth curling into a smirk. “I think its much more important to make the front of the store look nice than worrying about names. Right? Right.”
June rolled her eyes once her manager’s back was turned. Michelle could be funny and relaxed at some moments, but this wasn’t one of those times. The district manager must be visiting some time this week, June predicted as she spun to the magazines down the counter.
“Oh, and hey,” Michelle called out, causing June to twist around. Her manager pointed a finger towards her. “Put your hair up. Its getting frizzy.”
June picked up a loose, brown curl from her hair, noticing the split ends and frizz. She sighed dramatically while pulling her hair into a bun. The humidity was truly her worst enemy.
The store reeked of silence, with the exception of Michelle exclaiming words at the pharmacy employees in the back. June reorganized the entire magazine rack near her counter, seeing as the spot was cluttered anyway. Different magazines were placed in different sections and some even hung open on the edges of the rack. Customers never put anything back where they belong, and while June was guilty of the same thing, the problem still pissed her off. She hated having to clean up another person’s mess.
June heard a pair of doors open, and she wasn’t sure if it came from the store entrance or Michelle entering the staircase that led to the upper office once again. As she turned around with her best “customer service” smile, June noticed the two entrance doors sliding to a close. She found the lone customer carrying a skateboard. He was heading for the store brand lollipops, causing her gray eyes to narrow into thin slits. The candy aisle was famous for housing most thieves.
She guessed he had short hair or none at all, due to the hood covering his whole scalp. From her spot at the counter, June could tell his eyes were dark, and he had the rough image of a typical, young thief. His outfit suggested it all: baggy, khaki shorts, a black shirt with some musician on it, and a dark hoodie that didn’t quite fit him. He also wore socks with sandals, which made June want to barf all over her counter.
June wasn’t trying to judge a book by a cover. She just called it like she saw it.
Trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible, June abandoned her spot at the magazine rack and tip-toed her way to the candy aisle. One of her favorite things to do at Harbor Aid Pharmacy wasn’t even helping people; it was catching thieves. She always got such an immense satisfaction catching them in the act. June moved to the front of the aisle, looking down it with keen eyes.
However, she saw nothing out of the ordinary. The hooded guy was picking up bags of lollipops and Smarties, minding his own business while he did so. June was caught off-guard for a moment, but she was smarter than that. Michelle had taught her that the second you asked a thief if you can help them find a product or aisle, they’ll usually bolt.
June cleared her throat as loud as she could, but the male didn’t move a muscle. He bounced his head around and ignored her presence completely. June coughed again, louder this time, and still no recognition. Scoffing under her breath, she stomped her way towards the hooded male. When she was a foot from him, she waved her hands in his face while clearing her throat.
Finally, the guy looked her way. She had been correct: his eyes were the color of warm chocolate. (June was suddenly craving a Hershey’s bar in that moment.) He looked startled, blinking his eyes incredulously at her. June took a step back as he ripped out the wireless headphones that she never realized he placed in his ears, and then pulled off the hood he had secured tightly on his head. He had shaggy, dark blonde hair that looked like it hadn’t been washed in a while.
“Huh?” He asked loudly. The store was so quiet that June flinched at his deep voice.
“I didn’t say anything yet,” she clarified, taking a step back. “Do you need help finding something?”
Here it comes, she prepared herself. The bolting was imminent. She expected it to happen any second now, but … it never happened. Instead, the shaggy-haired boy continued to blink at her, almost as if he had wonder sprinkled in his eyes. A smile tugged at the corners of his thin lips. “Nah,” he said, “I’m alright.”
June pursed her lips for a moment, and then nodded her head. She began to make her way back to the magazine rack, but she found another pair of feet following her. She halted her steps quickly, almost bumping into the boy as he reached his right hand out.
“I’m August Michetti,” he introduced, looking down at her name tag. “Junia?”
After a pause, she carefully shook the stranger’s hand. “Its just June.”
August grinned big, wiping the sweat off his hands once she let go. He liked that they were painted a sparkly blue. Suddenly, the two bags of candy in his hand felt like air. June was staring at him like he was psychotic, but August didn’t notice. When did it get so warm in here? He wondered.
“So,” he tucked the bags of candy underneath his arms and placed his skateboard on the ground, sticking his large hands in his pockets, “do you – how long have you –”
The entrance doors slid open once again, and in ran a short boy with a round body. All June could see was his black hair, due to him currently breathing heavily while holding his knees. The new boy stood up and looked at August with his arms up. “C’mon, Gus!” He exclaimed. “I want to at least eat some of those Smarties before my mom shoves gluten free pasta down my throat tonight.”
June took that as her best way out of the situation. As the new boy walked over to August, who she learned was named Ethan when August called out to him, June moved away and back to the magazine rack. There was an odd feeling in her stomach, and she wasn’t sure if it was anxiety or just hunger. She didn’t notice Ethan looking from his friend to June as she continued organizing the magazines. August stared at her like he knew her, but June had lived in Bar Harbor her whole life, and not once had she come across any August Michetti.
When June began to sort through the new magazines and newspapers that needed to go up, August finally came to the register with the two bags of candy he originally had. He didn’t steal anything like June thought he would. Maybe she did need to stop judging customers by the way they dressed, but in her defense, most people who wore the same outfit as August were usually thieves. She always had to be on alert.
Ethan had already left out the door, but when June found even more confusing was August’s lack of words once he was in front of her again. Throughout the transaction, he was silent, just stuck his debit card into the reader and waited for the beep. He didn’t wait for his receipt. He simply walked out with his skateboard and candy in hand.
But he made sure to smile at June before the doors closed behind him.
June’s face contorted, as if she just ate something sour. She never cared much about boys anymore. June had spent so much time in high school obsessing over what people thought of her and the one boy who never knew she existed. It got exhausting, and she didn’t want to continue that once she entered college. Now that she was in her second year, she found it much easier to focus on herself, grades, and future, rather than boys who didn’t look in her direction.
So June was not enticed by August Michetti’s odd mannerisms, and she found their interaction weird and uncomfortable. Working in retail allowed June to have many awkward conversations, but this one had been different. Was it because he was probably her age? Was it because she had basically accused him with her eyes of being a thief? It could’ve been one or the other. Despite all of this, June was interested – in a way.
She was interested in why any male would bat an eyelash at her. June never dated anyone. The only real romantic interaction she ever had was kissing Tyler Spence at the sixth grade dance, and he had cried about it afterwards. Since growing into her body, June had received only a few flirtatious visitors at work, but not a lot to brag about. The situations either made her confused or uncomfortable.
Dating made her hesitate. Maybe it was because of her parents’ divorce. Maybe it was because she was accustomed to being “painfully average,” as her sister would call it. She didn’t look like she was special. She didn’t have pretty freckles dotting her cheeks. She didn’t have bright blue eyes that looked like the night sky. She was just good ol’, average June.
June had tons of awkward visitors like August. She’d, thankfully, never see him again.