Out of Time

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Out of Time: a trilogy of short stories
by C.J. Darlington



A busy woman blindly rushing through a grocery store.
A hard-working man with a pink slip.
A desperate teen girl who has a terrible secret.

All are running out of time, and the choices they make will change their lives forever.



Out of Time:

I swing into the grocery store parking lot, and there she is, slouching on a bench by the soda machine. Blonde hair, cropped short with purple tips. Nose ring. Probably seventeen or eighteen.

Snatching my purse off the passenger seat, I jump from my Volvo. Gotta hurry. I keep the girl in the corner of my eye as I walk toward the automatic door, my favorite heels clipping on the pavement. Her jeans are ripped at both knees, some rock band on her faded t-shirt. Doesn’t she have a coat?

Go talk to her.

And say what? “Hi, you don’t know me from Eve, but let’s sit and chat?” Don’t think so. I’m old enough to be her mother.
I give the girl a wide berth, confiscating a shopping cart from inside the store to avoid walking past her twice. Gotta rush. I’m on a mission. What was I thinking, inviting the whole Bible study over for dinner? Now I actually have to cook something. And it has to be good. No Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese tonight.

Produce first. Without thinking, I plop four heads of lettuce, three cucumbers, and a tomato in my cart. Hope they like salad.

There’s the girl again. I don’t see her face, but there’s no mistaking that hair. She saunters past me, the frayed ends of her jeans dragging on the floor. She glances around before grabbing a handful of freshly cut apple slices from one of those tempting freebie displays. I throw a bunch of carrots in my cart next to the lettuce.

See if she needs something.

I really don’t have time, and there are plenty of employees around. She doesn’t need, or probably even want, my help.

Off to the bakery. I’ll get a crusty loaf or two. Pastor’s message this morning will make for some nice discussion material for us. He’s always inspiring, and today was no different. Talked about hearing God’s voice, but that’s no surprise. God talks to him everywhere, in the shower, shaving, eating cereal. He’s always hearing something from the Father; but after all, he’s a pastor.

Hamburger. Some nice, lean ground round will do just fine. I’ve got three packs in my hands when I spot the girl again. This time she’s gobbling down salsa and chips from another display, crunching with her mouth open. Gross. Just a few feet from me, too. She glances over, and I quickly pretend I’m examining the beef packs.

Smile at her.

Why? That’s silly. I drop the meat in my cart.

...read the rest of the story, plus two more tales, in Out of Time!

Copyright 2012 C.J. Darlington
All rights reserved. Do not duplicate without permission.