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youjumpijumpjack
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎06-16-2007
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edit please!

“Oh, right,” Shana said, swiping a flyaway of blonde frizz behind her ear. “You’re starting today.”
I nodded, trying to step towards her, entirely too aware of the fact that my flip-flops were making sucking sounds as they tried to detach themselves from the sticky, sugary floor.
Shana grabbed two bottles of brightly colored liquid from a metal rack in the middle of the snow cone hut, generously squeezing them into a cup of freshly made ice. “You can wash the sugar-water bottles out, I guess,” she said, motioning to a sink in the farthest corner. “When you’re done, stack them in the red crate to the right of it. The red, not the blue. The blue is for dirty bottles only.”
“Alright,” I said, grabbing a purple stained bottle from off the counter. “Thanks.” A second later I heard the door squeak open again and Georgia, Shana’s best friend and captain of the volleyball team, came in. She was freakishly tall, six feet at least, with shoulder-length red hair and her signature white headband. When I saw her at school, I often contemplated over whether she wore the same headband all the time, or if she had a closet full where she could switch them out if they broke or if she simply got tired of them.
“Hello, Julie,” she said coolly, taking her position by the order window. She leaned one elbow on the ledge, resting her chin on one hand and straightening her headband with the other. “I forgot you were starting today.”
“Um, yeah,” I said. I began to walk towards them since there were no customers. But before I could take more than two steps, they both looked at each other, then at me, and I quickly scurried back to my corner to wash out the bottles. Apparently being friendly was a foreign concept to them.
Any thoughts of making friends with these girls were hastily shattered. I could hear them whispering to each other, pausing a few seconds once when I dropped a bottle. The whispering only got louder after that, and I heard one of them, Shana I think, slightly giggle.
“Well, it’s been really hectic so far this summer,” Georgia said to me now, handing an order for a medium flat-top Hurricane over to Shana. “I hope you won’t be too overwhelmed.”
I tried my best not to roll my eyes, instead smiling my mannequin smile again and turning back to the wall that the sink area faced. Behind me, I could hear the ice machine whirring, Shana filling four large cups in a row. I looked at the clock. It was 10:20. Only four hours to go.
By noon, I’d thoroughly rinsed and dried twenty-three sugar-water bottles. There’d been a fair amount of activity going on; some middle school guys had even gotten into a snow cone fight outside, which resulted in Georgia hosing down the front of the snow cone stand, having to repaint the I in CHILL, and posting a sign on the window that forbade anyone to lean up against the north wall until it had dried at least forty-five minutes.
Both she and Shana seemed totally swamped. I felt like an invalid, standing in the corner doing a task that any random four-year-old with half a brain could do just as well. But even if both of them were busy making snow cones, one would shoot over to the window, telling the next customer in line “I’ll be with you in just a second.” The first few times that happened, I figured they were just letting me get my feet under me, learning the ropes by watching them. After awhile, though, it was obvious. In their opinions, I was not needed.
At noon, Shana put a sign on the window that said WILL RETURN AT 12:30 and grabbed her purse from under a counter. Georgia followed suit, removing her sunglasses from the top of her head and placing them again on the bridge of her nose.
“We’re just going to run across the street for a quick sandwich,” Georgia said, already reaching for the doorknob. “I’d invite you to join us, but I have to make a quick stop by the ATM as well. Just be back in thirty minutes, okay?”
“I can stay, if you want,” I said, “And then take my lunch when you guys get back so someone will be here.”
They both just looked at me, as if I’d suggested I could balance a fishbowl on my nose while singing the national anthem.
“No,” Georgia said, the door now halfway open, “this is better.”
Then they disappeared out the door, so I picked up my purse and went outside, walking to the other end of the parking lot and planting myself in one of Ace Hardware’s 25% off patio benches with my chicken salad sandwich. I took a few deep breaths, then laid it on my lap. For some reason, I was suddenly sure that I was about to cry.
I sat on the bench for my whole lunch break, watching the traffic lights change from red to green to yellow. Then I threw away my brown paper bag and went back inside the snow cone stand. Shana and Georgia were already there; though it was 12:30 on the dot, I felt horribly late. They just stared at me as I took my position in the corner.
The afternoon dragged. It was blistering outside, and the line in the drive-thru reflected that. I was still stuck on rinse duty, and my jaded mind suddenly made me feel extremely aware of everything around me: the buzzing of the ice machine over my shoulder and to the right, the squeak of Georgia and Shana’s shoes as they stuck to the cement floor, the noise the window made as it slid open and shut. This was torture; I felt like a mindless idiot. I could’ve been working at the cool coffee shop with friends from school, or even interning at the city newspaper, and I wondered if I’d made the wrong choice. But this is what I had agreed to do.
At 2:30, I finished rinsing the last jug and put it in the red crate, not the blue, then opened my mouth to say my first words in over two hours. “I guess I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
Shana turned her head, her hair blowing in the breeze from the open window.
“Oh, right,” she said, as Georgia gave me a forced smile, “See you tomorrow.”
I could feel their gazes right around the base of my neck as I crossed the little hut, opening the door and practically skipping down the steps. One day down, I told myself. And only a summer to go.