The next morning George skipped breakfast and headed to work without speaking to his family. He didn’t want to interact with them and risk them finding out about the five cuts on his arm. As he parked his car, he glanced at his phone. Nothing. George sighed heavily and texted Timothy:
Good morning, how was your night? What time do you come into work today?
He waited a moment for it to send, and then went inside without acknowledging who was there and who wasn’t. All he wanted was to hide his pain from everyone.
“Can I go get carts today?” George asked his supervisor numbly.
“Normally, no one asks to go get carts when their shift starts, but if it’s what you want to do, then yes,” he replied.
George slipped on the orange vest, grabbed the double ended crochet hook, and nearly ran outside. He wanted time to himself so that he could process his feelings. Each and every one of them were screaming at him. He needed quiet so that he could hear them.
The dream. What, or who, was that? I don’t think it was God. Or maybe it was God disguising himself as a voice of reason? How can I be the one that’s in the way of my happiness? I didn’t do anything wrong. I just want Timothy and me to be together and happy.
BEEEEEPP! George nearly pushed the carts into a vehicle as it was backing up. The driver screamed at him to pay attention. As he pulled the carts back, George heard a soft chuckle from behind him. He turned around to find Hannah covering her mouth, but her eyes twinkled with laughter.
“What’s funny? Almost ramming carts into a car?” he asked defensively. He felt embarrassed.
“No, I mean yes and no. I hate the customers here, so I’ll give you props for nearly damaging their vehicle. But I hate some of our co-workers even more, which is why I’m out here. I had to get out of there.” She sighed heavily and rolled her eyes.
This is your chance to get your mind off of things. He thought
“Oh? Why do you hate our co-workers? What happened, if you don’t mind me asking?” George began pushing the carts again as Hannah ran beside him.
“Linette. She doesn’t like me and I have no idea why. She throws shit down the conveyor belt at me. I didn’t do anything to her, but I got so mad at her that I wanted to tackle her to the ground and punch her face. Hannah’s voice rose and became heated, but then she pushed the carts faster, relieving her anger. “I decided to come out here to calm down.”
“That doesn’t make any sense to me. She can’t be mad at you for no reason. I’m sorry.” George and Hannah pushed the load into the lobby, and then went back outside to grab more carts.
“I don’t know. I try so hard to be nice to people, but they keep teasing me.”
“I understand how you feel. I try so hard for everyone, but it seems as though it’s never good enough. You know…we should have fun. Fourth of July is coming up in a week. Meagan, Becca, Timothy, you, and I could pitch in and buy some fireworks to shoot off!” George grinned at her, and her face lit up.
“Yeah, I’ll ask my parents! You’ve just made my day! Thanks!” Hannah giggled, and then stopped as she saw George’s arm. “What happened to your arm?” She asked with concern.
“I…uh…was fixing dinner last night and burnt my wrist on the stove.” He scowled to himself for not making up a better excuse.
“Did you burn the food?” Hannah giggled softly as they latched the hook onto several carts and pulled the strap tight.
“No, I’m a great cook. I just wasn’t paying attention. Anyways, how long have you been working here?”
“Two months. I started back at the end of April. I’m also a cashier. Maybe they’ll let you on register and either Meagan or I could teach you!”
“Yeah, maybe,” George replied skeptically.
“Hannah, you’re needed up front to the register. It’s getting busy,” Timothy informed them from behind.
“Oh my god, I don’t want to go back in there with them! I swear that old bat will get what’s coming to her.” She ripped the orange vest off of her shoulders, and then handed it to Timothy as she stomped away back inside the store.
“Are you angry? George, I’ve been getting your texts, I’ve just been busy. I just got a second job yesterday to help my parents with financial problems. I hope you understand.” Timothy laid his hand on George’s shoulder as George shuddered with uneasiness. Timothy had never mentioned his parents’ financial troubles before, and why hadn’t he told him about applying for another job?
“I understand, but you could have sent me a text letting me know. I would’ve understood.” George pulled his load of carts out of the corral, and then struggled as he realized he didn’t pull the rope tight enough. George growled at himself, but was stopped by Timothy.
“My mom was watching me like a hawk yesterday. Let me do it.” Timothy tightened the carts more and grunted. “I couldn’t text you back because she monitors my phone. Trust me.”
And again with the trust card. He went to the movies last night…should I trust him?
George nodded silently, pushing the carts easier than before and headed back into the lobby.
Maybe I’m just too paranoid about getting hurt again, but what is this heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach?
George clutched his stomach abruptly as a wave of nausea washed over him.
“Hun, what’s wrong? Are you sick? And what the hell happened to your wrist!?” Timothy shoved the load of carts in the lobby then forcefully grabbed his wrist.
“I’m fine! I burnt myself last night making dinner!” George winced in pain from Timothy’s grip and pulled his arm away.
“You better not have cut yourself, or I won’t speak to you anymore. You’re worth more than that.” Timothy hugged George tightly. Tears were forming in the corners of George’s eyes as he tried to be brave and hold it together.
“I… love you, Timothy.” He breathed, fearing someone would hear.
“I love you too,” he kissed the top of his head softly.
George backed away, wiping his eyes with his shirt, and then recollected himself. “So, I was thinking maybe we could do something together for Fourth of July after work. Set off fireworks? My sister wouldn’t mind us coming to her house. I was going to invite you, Hannah, Becca, and Meagan. Are you up to it?”
Timothy’s grin faded and a frown took its place. “I’ll ask my mom later, but that sounds like a great idea. I’m in!”
Despite Timothy’s reassurance, George couldn’t escape the feeling of paranoia that was gripping him.
“Did you have fun last night?” George blurted out, unable to stop himself.
“What do you mean by ‘fun?’” Timothy glared suspiciously at him.
“You went to the movies last night, right? Your mom posted about it on Facebook. Which movie did you go see?”
Timothy stared out the window absently, “Jargon.”
He went to the movie you’ve been waiting to see for the past year without you. You wanted to go with him. We had been planning on going sometime this summer…
Anger began to burn throughout his body, and for the first time George wanted to slug Timothy in the face.
“All I can say is that you better find some way to make it the Fourth of July.” George turned away, distancing himself from Timothy, and went back to work.
Follow along from the beginning