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Losing Time

Cassandra Norton

Losing Time

His eyes flick to the clock for the third time in 5 minutes. 4:22, He gets off work in one hour and 38 minutes. He will then walk to his apartment, arriving at about 6:55. It's a long walk. It will then take him 8 to 23 minutes to find the $47 he hid over a month ago. He needs $60.

A customer at the ticket booth he's working calls for his attention, forcing him to wrench his eyes from the arching, crawling hands of time.

He throws on a requisite, sarcastic half-smile.

"How can I help you?"

He wonders if she can see him shaking. Her kids won't notice, kids never noticed. 4:23. One hour and 37 minutes.

"One adult, 2 children for the 4:30 show, please." Her polite response is almost sickening. Fortunately, she doesn't notice his trembling hands as they take her money. His jaw is inexplicably clenched as he relays the order to the printer with the quick tick tap of keys. A moment of silence between them -4:24, one hour and 36 minutes- as the printer hacks up the tickets with a sputtering snarl.

The inevitable, unavoidable, 'Thank you', followed by a photo-finish smile, and she's gone, herding her children toward the snack bar. Just in time. He retches behind the counter into a plastic trash bin, relieved that his current finances prevented him from eating breakfast, or anything besides the cheeseburger he’d had two days ago.

He sits down for a moment, 4:26. One hour and 34 minutes. Six hours and 13 minutes earlier, he and Jess had broken up. Well, not really, but she was mad, he was tired, and they had been fighting so much lately. He let her leave, knowing she probably wouldn’t come back. She didn't love him anyway. He blamed himself. Scratching, picking absentmindedly at the tracks, he glances at the clock. 4:27. One hour and 33 minutes. Oh joy.

A customer walks up: Douchey type, mid forties, almost balding, and a biker type leather jacket. Fuck me.

"Hey son,"-he hates when they called him 'son'- "gimme two tickets to the best movie playing. And make it snappy kid, I gotta date comin' "

He wonders if the date is a prostitute or the douche's hand.

"$18, I don't know what movie you should see."

He cringes as the man laughs boisterously, as though he's trying to tell the world 'my life is a fucking riot'.

"You gotta know something good, you work here right?"

"Nope, sorry." I’m gonna lose it.

"Come on son, gimme something. I know you have to have seen a shit ton of the flicks here, for chrissakes, just name one."

"I have no fucking idea what movie you should see, so please just buy a damn ticket or fuck off."

The man stops and stares for a moment. He might hit me. The thought briefly turns to an elaborate fight scene where he beats the piss out of this guy, before the asshole snaps back into reality, turns, and stomps around to the other side of the booth, demanding the manager, loudly. 4:31. One hour and 29 minutes. Potentially.

He sits down to await John, the spineless shit stain currently managing this sad excuse for a theater. He does sums in his head, trying to figure out how to get the $13 he still needs. He could sell his guitar. He really only played for Jess. Besides, he could use the extra money, maybe buy some food.

4:34. That was fast. One hour and 26 minutes left, though it’s an irrelevant calculation at this point. The manager is obviously furious as he marches up to the ticket booth. The dick-wad is nowhere in sight, probably got free tickets and now comfortably jerking off in the theater.

He is told that, not only is he fired, but it is a relief to finally have a reason for getting rid of him and that he should not expect to ever use this place as a reference. It’s all just a dull roar at the back of his mind. He waits silently for a minute before calmly side stepping the manager -whom is by this point so furious, he has reared up to his full height of five foot seven- and proceeds to leave the theater. The manager stops at the doors like a ghost at the edge of its haunting grounds, howling with rage at his victim’s escape .

Standing just around the corner, ****** checks his watch and drags a cigarette. 4:41; he'll be one hour and 27-39 minutes early. A girl sidles up next to him, trying to seem nonchalant and smoking like someone who just picked up her first pack last week. He's used to it, knows he's attractive. He looks at her at for a moment and is faintly surprised. She is what one would call cute. Not gorgeous, not sexy, just cute.

"I really like your coat dude."

He thinks she may have been holding her breath because the words sort of whoosh past her lips. He smiles in spite of himself, glad the cold is enough of an excuse for his shivering. If she’d come back with me I could keep my guitar.

They stand silently for a few moments before he checks his watch again. 4:45. He should go.

"Thanks." After flicking a smoldering filter, he begins his brisk walk back.

"See you around, you work here right?" He pauses, almost doesn't answer.

"See ya". 4:46.

In roughly 5 hours and 12 minutes, he will be found laying on a hardwood floor, needle in arm, sirens wailing almost as loud as the girl, still trying to shake him back into a life he left 5 weeks, 3 days, 6 hours, and 47 minutes ago.

Cassie Norton
Cassie Norton
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