The Sweet Spot

By: Jessica Pots

ONE

Darien, Connecticut



Temperance



RESPONSIBILITY.

I’d never known the meaning of the word in its purest sense until the last twenty-four months.

Not truly anyways.

I rummage through the bag on my shoulder, digging down to the very bottom of it. I finally find what I’m looking for. Fishing out the box of cigarettes, I stare at it longingly. Flipping the top back, I count that there are exactly four left.

I’ve done well.

I give myself a mental pat on the shoulder and grimace as if I’m in pain.

Only I think I really am in agony.

It’s been a week since I’ve had a draw of nicotine. I don’t know how much longer I can go without feeling a cigarette between my lips. But, I promised her I wouldn’t anymore, and promises mean everything.

A man wearing a big smile nods and says “hello.”

I gift him with one back and keep walking along Boston Post Road.

The streets are fairly empty at this hour, except for the early risers who filter into the local Starbucks across the street.

I listened intently yesterday morning when a waif-thin woman who talked way too much ordered a triple, venti, half sweet, non-fat, caramel macchiato.

Super obnoxious, I know.

Where I come from there’s coffee—regular and decaf.

It doesn’t get any simpler.

I pass three parked Maserati Levantes. All in a row. All squeaky clean. All expensive.

I let out a whistle and walk a bit faster, catching my reflection in the storefront window of a vegan market. Everything on display is made of powder and beans.

My top lip curls up as I come to a complete halt.

Squinting my eyes, I peer closer at one of the boxes which has a photograph of a smiling woman on the front who’s cooking. My eyes lower to the words and I chuckle when I realize the box in question is hamburger mix.

I rock my head from side to side, debating. I should probably try eating beans and powder for a week. I’ve probably had so much red meat in my lifetime I might just be on my way to having heart disease faster than I can blink.

“Come on, Temperance. Hurry up!”

I take off again, walking as fast as I can, passing all the storefronts to our left. I’m carrying everything. It’s my excuse this morning for moving so damn slow. With a huff, I adjust the heavy bag on my shoulder.

The people here are friendly. Most of them anyways. There’s the odd asshole every now and again. The residents usually say, “good morning” and “good evening.” They all dress well day and night as if they’re going to church. They aren’t the flannel and denim-wearing sort of folk. And I don’t think I’ve seen one cow since we’ve been in this uber-expensive town.

It’s Friday which means it’s payday for most. But not me.

Taking a breath, I drop the pack of cigarettes in the handbag of junk I’m carrying and stare at the loose cash and coins at the bottom of it. Aside from what I see, I have a bit more in my pocket and after it’s gone, we’re flat broke.

I need to get a job…

“Good morning,” a middle-aged woman with perfectly coiffed long red hair says with a pasted-on smile.

“Good morning,” I say back in the same phony way.

Her long ponytail swishes from side to side as she skips ahead of me. I try my best to keep up. Giggling, she glances over her shoulder. “Come. On. Temperance.”

“I’m right behind you, Georgia.”

Skipping ahead, she smiles showing me all her pearly whites. The two front ones are new since they’d just come back in after falling out a few months ago.

I eyeball the pink checkered dress she’s wearing and think about how much it had cost me yesterday—exactly fifteen dollars at a thrift store on the other side of town. Who’d have thought a place like this would have a consignment shop…

Most of the items the store sold were labeled second hand but they looked brand new—designer handbags, designer dresses and designer shoes. Often, the items were priced so outrageously—more than what a reasonable person would pay for them brand new, but I suppose as long as they’d been owned before one could say they were now “second hand.”

Georgia had begged and pestered me for the dress she’s now wearing. I didn’t have the heart to tell her we didn’t have the money for it. I don’t deny her everything she wants but most things I do.

Top Books