My bones were heavy and it felt like I've been working for more than sixty hours a week. My alarm had been slammed off a couple of minutes ago. It's a bit past six and I have to be at work by nine.
I let out a loud groan as I pull my self up and out of bed, scratching idly at my tummy as I did so. It takes a couple of minutes to shower and get myself ready for the day. I pulled on dark jeans with rips on it and a grey shirt.
One thing I've learnt after living by myself for so long is, you won't feel loneliness creeping in until you wake one one day with a dull ache in your chest.
I was chased out of home at fifteen after my mother found me kissing Michal, a former friend of mine from school. She had gone berserk, she threw things at me and screamed. I was thrown out of the house with the clothes on my back while Michal stayed behind. Heck, he had even joined my mother to scream at me even though he had been the one to initiate the kiss. I was on my own and moved from one homeless shelter to the other for years, taking up little jobs until I finally got a job at the convenience store.
I grabbed the box of Cheerios and the carton of milk from the fridge. I let my cereal soak in the milk before eating. I didn't have a smartphone or a tv, I couldn't afford to pay rent, light and water bill as well as phone bill. Instead I had a flip Nokia and an old acer laptop that I took to the store. I use the WiFi to download movies and things.
Once I was done with breakfast, I dump the plates into the sink and made my way back to the bathroom. I grabbed a brush and tried to flatten my hair but it was still going every which way, I let out a huff and grabbed my beanie, sliding it on and folding the tip a bit. According to the time on the clock, it was fifteen minutes past eight. I grabbed the bag containing laptop and phone and dashed out of th house, locking the door on my way out.
It took me thirty minutes to get to work from where I lived. I ran all the way to the bus stop and let out a relived breath when I made it. I wasn't late. I sit on the branch, the bag resting in my lap as I waited for the bus. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait long.
Once I was on the bus, I leaned my head against the window and watched as the house flew by and things became a blur. It used to frustrate me knowing that some people don't know that I was suffering in silence someone, existing and not living. It used to frustrate me but then I understood. No one would care because no one knows me, heck, some people don't even know I, Jesse Morris, a twenty five year old with no family or friends or nothing to his name beside his small dingy flat, exist. Nobody besides me know about my pain, the loneliness, the feeling of helplessness I often feel.
It's just me.
And I have to take care of myself.
I've got no one to do it for me.
When I was at the shelter I used to read books where the guy appears and sweeps the woman off her feet. He'd buy her things, take care of her, they'd have kids and live happily ever after.
I used to dream about finding a love like that. I used to dream about finding someone who would take care of me, someone who i would trust and hand over the reigns of control to.
Once the bus pulls to a stop, I got down from the bus, gripping the strap of his bag tightly. It was a short walk from the bus stop to the store. Once I got there, I went in through the back door which was thankfully open. I found Mr. Dalton, taking in the inventory.
"Good morning, Mr Darlton." I greet as I drop my bag in the small locker, he had given me when I first started.
Mr. Stanley Darlton was an older man with salt and pepper hair and square pecs, he had an husband, two children and one grandchild. He liked to talk about them all the time.
"Jesse, darling! How are you today?" He asked, as he caps his pen.
I want to tell him how tired I am but the words don't leave my mouth. Instead I smile at him. "A little cold but pretty good." I reply. I grabbed the black waist apron and tied it in, I also took out my name tag and clipped it on. "How are your husband?"
Mr Darlton chuckles. "He's turning fifty eight tomorrow an he keeps pouting everywhere."
I laughed at that. "Give him a little cake and he'll be happy."
"I know but I have plans with whipped cream and what not included." Mr. Dartlon winks and I immediately got the mental picture that I never wanted to have. I stuck out my tongue and pretended to gag.
"Don't be silly. How do you think we stayed married for thirty years?"
I couldn't take it anymore. I shook my head, trying to get rid of the manual picture of Mr. Darlton giving his husband a lap dance. I have seen Mr. Darlton's husband, Charles, so the image was bright and clear in my head and this was not how I saw my morning going.
I've worked at the convenience store for four months now, Mr. Darlton has four employees. Since I didn't have school or part time work, I got to be at the store from 9-7 in the evening. Mr. Darlton and his husband had been skeptical about it at the beginning because no one wanted to work those insane hours but I had to beg them and tell them a little bit about me to quell their worries. They agreed and instead allowed me to work three times a week.
I loved working at the store, the owners were nice and so were my co workers, even some of the customers were nice too.
On tuesdays, I spend my mornings with Agatha and in the afternoons, I spend it with Jimmy. It's like clock work.
I step behind the counter, from where I was I could see Agatha stacking up the canned food aisle. Agatha was a tiny girl with bright eyes and she was bald, by choice.
"Jesse!!!!" She cheered when she sees me. I covered my ears and scrunched up my nose in faux irritation but like always she saw through it.
"Your screeching makes my ears hurt."
"That's how my people show love." Agatha says as she made her way over. She stops briefly and switched the sign from closed to open.
"What people? Your parents are Jewish and you are an atheist." I said as I reach for the packet of mentos Mr. Darlton always kept for me in the drawers.
"It's barely nine and I already don't like you today." Agatha tuts, her lips pursed. I chuckle at her expression, I wanted to reach out and playfully punch her in the arm but I don't want to cross any lines. It took us two months to talk to each other and another two months to be this ... close.
Agatha was the closest thing I had to a friend. There were times that I'd want her to hug me and vice versa.
"Well, that's your business. All I know is, you look splendid today." I tell her. Agatha grinned and spun around. She had on a bright yellow gown and black combat boots, her make up was simple and her false lashes moderate.
"It took me twenty minutes." She snickered. "Unlike other people, I don't have to worry about my hairstyle or color." She stuck out her tongue.
"This took me an entire hour." I spun around slowly, my fingers stretched out. "Don't I look gorgeous?"
Agatha crosses her arms and shakes her head. "All I see is a lazy bum who couldn't bother to brush his hair."
"Not everyone can look as gorgeous as you."
"I am even more beautiful than both of you combined." Mr Darlton cuts in. Agatha and I both turn to look at the older man whose left brow was raised slightly as if daring us to protest. "Now, I don't pay you both to run a fashion contest. So get to work, chop chop!"
The door to the store was pushed open just as Mr. Darlton finished speaking. A group of people walk in, each other heading for different aisles. Agatha goes back to stacking while I ring up a boy with bright pink cheeks, who was holding a box of tampons and a pack of Always.
The boy doesn't look me in the eye and I try not to laugh, biting down on my bottom lip to keep the sound in. The day went by in the blue. People came in and left.
I successfully connected my laptop to the WiFi and downloaded the entire second season of Star. Agatha has left the store by one and Jimmy had taken her place. Jimmy was an English student at the community college, he was a boy with bright eyes and an even dazzling smile.
He made me feel jealous.
Sometimes I'd ask myself why I didn't look that way. Maybe if I was attractive, I'd have like a sugar daddy or something. I have been looking at sites detailing the relationship but it wasn't something I wanted. I wanted more than that.
I wanted someone there for me, someone who would take care of me all day, everyday. Someone I could trust to hand over my entire being to. I didn't even know where to start, it's not like I could type exactly what I was feeling with google and get a result. It was a bit more complex than that.
Once it was five, I removed the apron and headed to the back room. I folded it neatly and kept it in the locker before packing up my laptop. I swung on the bag and walked back into the store, heading straight for the fridge.
Mr. Darlton always lets me take some of the truffles and frozen pizza rolls that were close to expiring. He had offered to give me the fresh ones for free but the thought had left a bitter taste in my mouth. I grabbed them and stuffed them into my bag.
With a quick salute to Jimmy, I walked out of the store and onto the street, or well, sidewalk. The sky was a bit dark and the streetlights were coming on. I stretched my hands above my head and smiled, my head tilted towards the sky.
The perfect end to a perfect day.
I hummed as I began to make my walk to the bus stop. I was the only one there by the time I reached, so I decided to wait, opting to stand instead of sitting. I had spent majority of the day sitting.
I looked down, my feet kicking an invincible stone. I was about to kick it again when I felt something behind poured on me. I let out a gasp and stared at my wet clothes.
What the hell?
I looked up, a frown etched on my face and found the person, or in this case, the people responsible. There were two boys kneeling on the backseat of a convertible with the top folders down and they were holding huge water guns. I took a step forward, mouth open and ready to scream but stopped when they sprayed me more water.
They sped off and I let out a huff and screamed, kicking at the ground a bit. There was a burning sensation behind my eyes and I sniffed. Oh shit, I can't cry. Please. I can't cry.
I try to wipe my face with my hands but it doesn't work. I was close to breaking down, ready to just sit on the street and cry when someone placed something warm around my shoulder. I jerked back and opened my eyes.
The first thing I noticed was the thick black suit jacket draped around me, the second thing I noticed were expensive suede shoes. I gulped and instantly looked up and my breath hitched.
The man standing beside me was breathtaking. His dark hair was styled up, he had on a white shirt with three of the buttons opened and black slacks, an expensive watch glinting around his wrist and soft brown eyes. He looked like a dream.
I wasn't sure if I was seeing correctly.
The man drags the jacket down a bit and pulls the lapels forward. What was he doing? Where did he come from? Questions were springing around in my head.
"Are you okay?" The man asked and lord, even his voice is attractive. What even is my life?
“Are you okay?" The man repeats and I nod.
"I saw what happened before they drove off. Are you sure you're alright? Do you need a ride? You're clothes are wet." The man asked, staring at me with an intense look in his eyes. His voice reminds me of being curled up in front of a fireplace. Warm and tingly.
"Bus..." I mentaller face palm myself for blurting out the word but I had to push on. "I'm fine. I'm taking the bus home."
The man nods, he takes a step backwards and was about to turn away when I yelled. "Wait! Your jacket."
The man looked at the jacket and then st me. "Keep it."
He turns around and I just wanted to see his face again, so I yell. "I can't."
He doesn't fully turn around, he just looks to the side and smirks. "You can return tomorrow. My card is in the pocket." He said and walked away, his long legs leading him away from me.
I dig my hands into the pocket and pulled out a black card and read the words written on them.