"One can overcome the forces of negative emotions, like anger and hatred, by cultivating their counter-forces, like love and compassion." -Dalai Lama
Have you ever felt like your life was on automatic? Someone just pressed the play button and you're doing everything without even thinking twice about it. No emotions, just a constant numbness in your heart that is yet to be replaced with feelings, like love, compassion, sympathy, even an ounce of hate, but sadly, it's looking to be there for a while. Yeah, that's pretty much the exact words to describe the way I'm feeling on this extraordinarily beautiful rainy day.
"Lily Anne Klinkowski! How many times do I have to remind you to go get the groceries? I have a dinner to start, you know!" my vexatious mother's voice called up to me. I gave a snort. Yeah, right. Love, compassion, and sympathy? Am I still sane?
I sighed and got up slowly. Mother had her reasons for being so pesky. Being a single mother of three, she had plenty of work on her shoulders. I couldn't help but despise my father. How could someone walk away from such a big responsibility?
My dinky, not-bothered-to-be-cleaned mirror made my frown deepen. Why did my face have to be such a reminder of him? My sultry, cloudy gray eyes resembled his intensely, as did my red hair before I decided to go blonde. Another dejected sigh escaped my lips as I ran a boar-bristled brush through my entangled lengthy blonde hair, chuckling as I discovered several tufts of light pink hair that was a result of a shindy and several tequila shots. I think that's pretty self explanatory.
I quickly changed into something presentable before skipping downstairs to be met with my mother's disapproving frown. "I'm going," I huffed. She tossed me the car keys and I traveled at a snail like pace.
"Today, Lily," she tapped her foot impatiently. She seriously looked like one of those witches in disguise. I'm just waiting for her to pop out a broom and avra-kedavra me away. Or wait, was it avada-kedavra? It's been a while, Harry Potter.
I broke out into a sprint and quickly slid into the driver's seat. Out of all the chores, this certainly had to be the one I hated most. Our local Walmart certainly did not know how to hire employees. You've got the old man who's really in need of a hearing aid. The dumb, extra-enthusiastic blonde (not meaning to stereotype) that will smile incessantly even if you told her that your grandfather died. The flirty guy who you'd think has a twitch in his eye, he just winks that much. And last but not least, the one that's in need of a toothbrush, soap, a shower, and possibly deodorant.
Yes, certainly not my favorite place to be. I pulled into the unnecessarily huge parking lot and was greeted by the familiar sight of Walmart written in huge, blue letters with a yellow star at the end. Oh, and let's not forget the 'Save money. Live better.'
Those words irk me to no end. I parked the shabby, old car at the spot closest to the entrance and dashed out. It was still raining hard as I ran in for shelter, being greeted by its exceedingly annoying smell of...well, everything that was in it.
I grabbed a cart and with a huff, began to push it in the direction of the sweets aisle. Might as well get something good while I'm here.
I began loading the cart with my favorites when I heard a group of employees talking in hushed voices.
Now I'm not one to eavesdrop, but the topic intrigued me.
From what I could hear, they were talking about a new employee. What are we getting now? The local bad boy that's being forced to get a job so he doesn't have to do community service and won't even speak two words at you without adding in a curse word? The one that doesn't even speak English? Or wait, even better, the one that'll get all emotional about you choosing the wrong type of shampoo? God only knows with these people.
Chuckling lightly to myself at my unusual train of thought, I ignored the chatter and moved on to the dairy section. I, oblivious to the tall mound of cans that I was approaching from behind, continued walking backwards, picking out everything that we needed.
It actually all happened so suddenly. I don't even remember the part where I collided with the cans. Although, I do remember the husky, male voice telling me to watch out. A little gasp escaped my lips as I backed into the cans, tripping over my own feet in the process. I landed with a hard thud. The person who had warned me began to chuckle lightly. A large hand entered my line of vision, but I blatantly ignored it, pushing off onto my feet. As I turned to glare at the person who had laughed at me, I was caught by a surprising, slightly breath catching sight.
The guy's electric blue eyes resembled a laser beam as they twinkled with humor and mischief. He pulled back his extended hand and ran it through his sandy blond hair that was slightly shaggy and long, dipping over his forehead and covering his ears. My gaze then zeroed in on the name tag on his blue vest jacket that clearly said Walmart on the front. I take back whatever I said about Walmart not being able to pick their employees. I cursed myself for not wearing something at least a bit nicer than a Tshirt and a pair of old blue jeans.
"Well there goes forever and day's work," he said playfully. I blushed profusely. "I'm so sorry. I wasn't paying attention!" I stuttered.
"So, I see," he glanced at where I had been standing before my loud, slightly embarrassing, fall. Who am I kidding? I've never been more embarrassed about a fall in my life and I'm not sure if it's because of the guy standing in front of me or the fact that nobody tips over a bunch of cans. "Couldn't choose between the Sunnyside Farms or the Crystal milk?" he chuckled amusedly. This only intensified the redness in my cheeks.
"I'd go for the Sunnyside," he said, bending down and beginning to stack the cans again. I picked up the cause of this and tossed it into the cart. "I'll take your word for it then." I bent down and began to help him but he pushed my hands away.
"It's okay, I'll take care of it," my heart raced at the feeling of his hands against mine.
"No, I caused this. I'd best be helping you out before ostrich-eyes comes after you," I chuckled, referring to the manager.
"Ostrich-Eyes," he looked genuinely confused. I chuckled again. "Mrs. Rhodes. Her fake eyelashes are so obvious." He thought about it for a moment before bursting into hearty laughter. I grinned at him.
"I'm Lily, by the way," I said, as we were almost done. "Lily, you're as beautiful as the flower after that which you have been named. I'm Kenneth," he shot me a lopsided grin. I smiled back.
"Can tell," I pointed at the name tag. He looked down and nodded in realization as he saw it. I placed the final can and straightened out.
"See you around then?" he asked, smiling slightly. "Definitely. I always go grocery shopping for my mother."
"Great! Looking forward to it," he winked before running off. This time I was glad it wasn't from someone with a twitch in their eye. I grinned to myself as I completed the quest I had come to Walmart for. I don't think that grin wiped off until I walked into the house to see my mother glaring at me.
"What took you so long? I sent you on a basic trip to get a few groceries for the house. I'll send Elena next time. You happy?" she huffed as I brought the groceries in.
"No!" I responded almost too quickly. She sent me an incredulous glance.
"I thought you said you hated grocery shopping," she mused.
"I'm starting to take back a lot of what I've said lately," I smiled, walking out of the room and leaving my befuddled mother behind.
What I said was true. Things have started to look a lot brighter. There's one thing, or shall I say, place, that is to blame. That lead me to one realization only, a very surprising, unheard of realization, considering my void of feelings.
Oh God, I love Walmart.
My phone buzzed, indicating I had received a message. I lifted it up and checked it.
It was from an unknown number.
'Hey it's Kenneth,' it read. I chuckled and pressed the call button.
"Um, hey," he answered after the first call.
"Hey yourself," I laughed.
"How are you?" he asked awkwardly.
"I'll be great as soon as you tell me how you got my number," I smirked, even though he couldn't see me.
"I-uh-I. Didn't you give it to me?" he stuttered.
"I don't recall that, no," I chuckled.
"Okay, I may have gotten it from one of my friends. I refuse to give any more information," he confessed.
"It's all good," I said.
"When do you plan on going to Walmart again?" he asked eagerly. I was about to get up and go right then and there but I didn't want to seem too desperate.
"Soon," I replied mysteriously.
"Oh," he sounded slightly disappointed. "Well, I'll talk to you later, Lilly."
"Yeah," I replied. "Bye Kenneth. Kenneth is too long. Can I call you Ken?"
"Everyone else does, so I guess so," he chuckled lightly.
"If everyone else does, then I won't call you that. I want a unique nickname," I smiled mischievously.
"Okay, think of one," he laughed.
"Don't rush it!" I snapped playfully.
"Jeez, okay," he laughed.
"How about Kenster?" I grinned.
"I love it," he said.
"Okay. Bye Kenster," I smirked and hung up.
"Lilly," I heard my name being called. Again. I heaved a sigh of frustration. I had yet to sit down for ten consecutive minutes.
"Yes, Mother," I called. A knock sounded on my door and without warning, it opened. I hated when people did that. Either knock and wait for the person to open the door or just open it rudely.
"I have a shift at the hospital now. I need you to babysit Ellie and Poppy," was all she said. I didn't even have the chance to protest before I heard the slamming of the front door. I groaned as my thirteen year old sister walked into my room like she owned the place. She stuck her nose high in the air and her walk spelled out confidence. And vanity. She had inherited my mother's traits. Both of my sisters did. They got the petite frame. The long, brown locks that shined. The dark, enigmatic eyes. The thing I was most jealous of was the beautiful olive skin and rosy cheeks, contrasting against my pale, white skin.
They even got their love of art and music from her.
"You're supposed to be babysitting us," she remarked snootily. I shot her a sarcastic, sweet smile. "Thank you for reminding me that I have the world's worst task on my to do list, Poppy."
She just rolled her eyes. "Ellie's eating from that cookie dough that Mother didn't put away." I groaned as I dashed downstairs. Ellie was the four year old. The face of an angel, the mind of a devil.
"Ellie, stop," I said as I reached the kitchen. She shook her head and let out a brief 'No.'
"If you give it to me, I'll make you cookies," I suggested. She seemed to think over it for a second before reluctantly handing me the box. I sighed a sigh of relief.
I got out a cookie sheet and began rolling balls of the dough onto the sheet. In ten minutes, I had finished the entire thing and I put it in the oven. I looked at Eliie to see her grinning at me.
"Poppy, distract Ellie for a second, please," I said as my phone rang for the second time in one day. She walked over and picked Ellie up, taking her out of the kitchen. One day, those two will be the end of me. I answered.
"Hello?" I spoke into the phone. I heard a crash and I winced.
"Hey, is this a bad time?" Kenneth's deep, masculine voice laughed through the phone.
"Lilly! Ellie's pulling my hair!" Poppy's voice whined.
"Ellie, remove your hands from your sister's hair," I called over.
"Kinda," I mumbled through the phone.
"Okay," he laughed. "I just wanted to hear your voice." That was so adorable. My breath caught in my throat. No ones ever wanted to willingly talk to me. Not even my own father. My heart clenched painfully at that thought.
"I-I-uh-um, thank you?" I said the first thing that came to my mind. He chuckled lightly.
"I'll speak to you later, flower," he hung up. I was caught in a daze until I heard a scream. I huffed in annoyance as I got up to detangle the two. Poppy smirked at me as I pulled Ellie off her.
"Who were you talking to? A boy?" she smiled smugly.
"None of your business, twerp," I snapped. She rolled her eyes.
“Stop treating me like I am some kid!” she huffed.
“You’re thirteen,” I remarked.
“You know I’m smart for my age,” that was true. I guess we all had to grow up early because of what Dad did. My heart held so much spite for him.
“I’m sorry, Pops,” I sighed. She walked over to me and wrapped her arms around me. I froze, not knowing how to react to her hug. I awkwardly moved my arms, but she pulled away before I could wrap my arms back around her.
“To answer your question. Yep, it was a boy,” I grinned deviously. She gasped. “What does he look like?”
“You want to Facebook stalk him with me?” she nodded with a huge grin. I chuckled.
“Let’s get Ellie to sleep first,” she pouted but went and whispered in Ellie’s ear. She jumped up and started for the bedroom. Poppy always had her way with Ellie. Half an hour and three books later, she finally fell asleep. We tiptoed out of the room and shut the door softly behind us.
“Come on!” Poppy said impatiently. I laughed and opened up my laptop. I don’t know where he got my last name but he somehow managed to find me on Facebook and had added me. I clicked the ‘Accept’ button. A chat message popped up.
‘Hey Flower. I like your profile picture,’ I read. I smiled as I saw the picture of me and my mom.
“Look at his pictures!” she urged.
I clicked on his profile and opened up his profile picture. Poppy squealed.
“That’s the guy?” I laughed at her face.
“Yeah, that’s him,” I said.
“Oh my gosh!” she squealed again. I didn’t blame her. “Reply before he thinks you’re ignoring him!”
‘Hey Kenster. Thanks. I like yours too,’ I replied. He replied with a wink.
‘I think I hear some unstacked cans calling my name. See you around,’ I didn’t reply; I just continued to go through his pictures.
“He’s definitely into you,” Poppy remarked. I was startled, having forgotten she was there.
“No, he’s not. The first time we met, it was because I tripped over a bunch of cans and he had to help me up. Since then, we haven’t seen each other, and I haven’t done anything to show that I’m not the clumsy freak he first met,” I laughed. She shrugged.
“I know what I’m talking about,” she remarked. I chuckled and ruffled her curly hair.
“I let you stay long enough past your bedtime,” I said as she scowled and tried to fix her hair.
“I know when I’m not wanted,” she said and with that, left the room. I stared at his profile for around an hour before I realized that I was being very creepy. I logged off and shut the computer. It was only eleven. I wouldn't be able to sleep yet and I literally had nothing to do. I got up and made my way to the kitchen. I opened the fridge and scanned the contents. I saw a slice of chocolate cake and I grabbed it quickly, as though someone were about to take it before me. I took out a fork and I went to the living room to watch some tv. I turned it on and flipped through the channels before finally settling on the channel that was playing Pride and Prejudice.
I must have fallen asleep because the last thing I remember, I was being covered by a thick blanket and the lights and tv were out.