Runner-Up, August 2012 KidPub Writing Contest
The bell attached to door jingles as I step inside the Quick Mart. The air conditioning that greets me washes over my like a cool tidal wave. My tired aching feet manage to guide me inside before I stop. A bored looking employee glances up at me from one of the magazine racks. A tiny satisfying chill creeps over me as the air conditioning sinks into my boiling blood stream. The beads of sweat gathering at my hairline disappear.
The inside of Quick Mart, which is always seems to be the same the same temperature year round has no windows. It holds no evidence that it's 104 degrees outside and the whole world is melting. It has no idea that even though the world is predicted to end in a few months, the heat might just end us all today. The employees and the Quick Mart itself, doesn't really give off a sense of caring. My ragged breathing slows and the previous events catch up to me as I reach the frozen foods isle.
Tess had scowled at me. “My boyfriend is not a jerk!” she had shouted defiantly over the roar of the lawn mower outside.
“Then why did he completely blow me off, and why have I seen him eyeing Kristen Tenner!?”
My best friends face went from a look of anger to shock, to horror. Then back to anger again. I’ll admit, it was a bit mean of me to say he was a jerk. But Tess asked me what I thought of him, and I thought she could handle the truth.
“You just say the meanest things Olivia Harris!” she spat out.
“You know what? I’m tired of hanging out with someone who I can’t stand!” I had shouted.
Caught up in a rush of anger and adrenaline I grabbed my phone off the kitchen table and ran out the front door, willing tears not to fall.
Still hot and angry with Tess, I the freezer door that holds the frozen vegetables and let the cool air chill my skin, and temper. My reaction was a bit dramatic, but so was Tess’s. I breathe in deeply, trying to erase the erratic breathes escaping my body.
It didn’t help I was supposed to spend the night at Tess’s house. My bag and pillow are probably still on her pink rug, sitting untouched. But I couldn’t give her the satisfaction of sitting there and letting her words chew me up. So I ran 10 blocks to Quick Mart. One of the only places in town with consistent air conditioning and people who won’t try to comfort you if you cry. In their eyes, you’re there to shop and pay them.
Without thinking, I reach for a bag of frozen snow peas. I press the cold plastic bag on my sweaty neck and try to cool the angry feeling ebbing away at me.
The door slips from my fingers and a sour looking employee races around the corner.
“I hope you plan on buying those.” She says, “Because I’m not letting them go back in the freezer case.”
I sigh as she walks away. Smug faced and all official looking in her ugly red vest. I crouch down on my aching legs and pull a damp 10 dollar bill from under the tongue of my shoe. It’s so hot even the money’s melting.
Up at the cash register, the same smug looking girl awaits. I notice her brown hair isn’t dirty with sweat and she didn’t just run at least a mile to the store. In fact, her hair is in a frozen like bob style and a clip is holding back her perfect bangs. It looks like she’s never ran a mile in her life!
Not about to give her the satisfaction of cheating me out of my money, I pick up a pack of gum and slap it down with the snow peas.
“Do you have a Quick Mart Card?” she drones scanning the items.
I’m fourteen. Does it look like I own a Quick Mart Card?
“No,” I say flatly.
She drops the items in the bag and rings me up, handing me my change. I grab the plastic bag and she drops the change into my outstretched palm. Of course, at this point I have to leave. I can’t just wander around pressing cool vegetables to my skin.
Outside, the heat rushes at me and hits me hard in the face. It feels like decades ago I was in air conditioning. I fumble with the bag for a minute and drop the change in. Quarters and bills. Given my awful coordination, one drops and falls to the concrete.
I stoop down and grab it. But as I stand up, I do a double take. There’s another coin on the ground. One that I didn’t drop. I hunker back down and scoop it up. It’s just a penny. Heads up, shiny and new. I grin. I need all the luck I can get today. I toss it in the bag with the rest of the coins. This penny gives me the luck I need to get back home.
15 painful minutes later, I’ve just about collapsed onto the floor of my kitchen. My mom and dad are at work, given it’s only 3:35. The contents of my Quick Mart bag spill onto the linoleum floor. The now defrosted snow peas are worthless and the gum is melted. I scoop up all the money. My eyes land once again on my shiny penny.
The tiny bit of anger still left in my dissolves as I scoop it up. Abe Lincoln’s familiar face is shiny and bright, and the date readable. 2017.
I look again. That’s not possible. But sure enough, there in that thin font is 2017. It’s clear as day. My heart skips a beat and my mouth goes dry. It’s probably just an error. I tell myself nervously. Olivia, the US Mint doesn’t make errors. Says the logical side.
A thought occurs to me. What if, what if this coin is from the future?
My fingers reach instinctively for my phone, ready to call my mom. What would I tell her? “Hey mom, I found a penny that says 2017, and I think it might be from the future, but I’m not sure…can you come home?”
She’d probably tell me to lay off the sugar or it’s a manufacturing error. I breathe in, and out. I close my eyes and pinch myself. When I open them, I half expect aliens to be in my kitchen. But they aren’t. I’m still just a sweaty teenager with a messed up penny.
I look at it one more time. Then, I do the only thing that seems logical. I look at it and tell myself good things.
“Life goes on.” I whisper softly, feeling a light floating feeling inside. “The world isn’t going to end in a few months, the sun won’t black out. This thing with Tess and I isn’t going to last forever, and if it does, I’ll know I still have the future.”
The cheesy line I spewed out makes me feel embarrassed, but it’s also true.
“Life is going to go on.” I tell myself. “There’s proof right here.”
And sure enough, there is. In the warm palm of my hand is a copper disk with the inscription 2017. And for now, that’s all the proof I need.