We don’t need love. You are our pain. You lost our trust. You are our shame.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!” Blue wailed until her throat was scratchy as a familiar voice sang those lyrics over the loudspeaker. Her lyrics. It was her song. She wrote it. She was a founding member of The Revolution, an all-girl rock band that was currently taking the world by storm. She should be with them, out on tour. Last she checked, they were in London. She screamed again, kicking over a display of potato chips. How dare they vote her out.
“Hey!” The gas station manager yelled. “You clean that up or you pay for it.”
“I got it. I got it.” Blue rolled her eyes and righted the shelves, lining up the cellophane bags, playing her own melody in her head to block out any other sounds. She felt a gentle tap on her shoulder.
“Could I have one of those?” A young girl stood behind her, maybe 16, hugely pregnant. Her face was dotted with acne, greasy red hair haphazardly pulled up into a messy bun.
“Sure.” She tossed her a bag of sour cream and onion.
“My favorite. It’s all I eat lately.”
Blue nodded, returning to her work. She heard the girl make her purchase; she hummed a melody Blue didn’t recognize as she waited for the cashier to make change. There was a jingle of the bell above the door as she left again. Blue saw through the window as the girl walked down the dark alley that ran beside the gas station. She dropped the last bag on the ground and ran outside, ignoring the protests of the manager.
“You don’t have a ride home?” Blue asked her, breathless, once she reached her side.
She shook her head. “I’m right around the corner.”
“But still, this isn’t a very safe neighborhood. Especially at night.”
The girl shrugged. “It’s not so bad. I’ve seen worse.”
“What’s your name?”
“I’m Blue.” The sound of police cars racing past, sirens blasting, momentarily interrupted them. “So, Jade, are you from around here?”
She shook her head. “I’m from Miami. When my mom found out I was pregnant… she said I had to go…”
“So you’re here all by yourself?”
“My friend’s mom took me in. I’m sleeping on the couch for now.”
“What about the…errr…father…?”
“He doesn’t care.”
“So you’re just going to raise this baby all by yourself?”
“Looks that way.” She came to a stop in front of a crumbling brick building. “Anyway, this is me. Thanks for walking me home.”
Blue watched as Jade waddled toward the rickety steps. “Wait!” Jade stopped, waiting while Blue ran down the dusty walkway. “What was that song you were humming back at the store?”
“Just something I made up. Something I do to pass the time.”
After seeing Jade to her door and adding her phone number to her contacts, with promises to hang out soon, Blue walked back to her car, humming Jade’s tune, a new skip in her step.