by Thane Thompson
Their shrill screeches echoed around my cramped newspaper kiosk, straining to carry over the throb of their iPods as they performed bitchy-sounding gossip at each other; only getting louder as an impatient queue grew behind them before finally taking a moment from their overacted pantomime to shout "Cosmo!" and "People!" and "Us!" at me. The tall, chesty, blonde-haired one, with a few less smoke lines above her tight brittle mouth and pale lanky fingers made for hand shakes and hand jobs, handed me a C-note and turned back to her friend faster than I could point to the "No bills larger than a $20" sign or ask her for something smaller. I stood there for a minute, weighing the possibility of them pitching a full-blown hissy fit and scaring away my other customers, then dug under the register for my only $50, added three crumpled $10s and a still-crisp $5 to the top of the stack, and then handed the pile over to them. They didn't even notice my hesitation; standing there juggling the change, the magazines, two cups of Starbucks half-caf frappa-whatevers and some over-schmeared whole-grain bagels above the kids in the color-matched Bugaboo strollers. Her daughter cringed at an especially loud epithet and then peered up at me – reaching with her eyes from the wells of her soul towards a real live human rather than a walking, talking blow-up doll with too-tight spandex jogging shorts that showed all the wrong things to all the wrong people. I deferred turning back to The Contest of Faculties to smile at the girl and give her a friendly little wave, which she was in the process of returning when her mother noticed me and whipped the stroller around, hiding her from my sight and stabbing me with a "pervert" glare for good measure.
Thane Thompson writes literary prose and poetry, fantasy, and science fiction. His work has appeared at The Writer's Eye Magazine, Pen Pricks Micro Fiction, and is forthcoming at Tiny Lights "Flash in the Pan." He lives in Ohio with his wife, daughter, and two highly opinionated cats. He freely admits to liking cheap wine, expensive movies, and hand-blown glassware.