Summary: A young boy wanders into a store. Outsider's POV.
It was dark. It was raining. And I was so bored I was about to open a deck of cards and start building a house out of them. I was not yet desperate enough to open the latest issue of Hollywood, Overdramatized, though. I don't know why my boss had insisted on keeping the AM-PM open regular hours on Thanksgiving, but God forbid we lose any customers. And at least she had a twenty-something girl, who had no life or family within driving distance, as an employee to watch the door stay closed for hours on end.
I let out a sigh, sliding my eyes to the clock on the register again, which read 7:15 PM. I could have sworn it had been seven o'clock like an hour ago.
To my surprise, the bell above the door dinged as someone walked in quickly out of the rain, much shorter than my usual customers, at least those who came in by themselves. He shook off some of the rain before pulling back the hood of his raincoat and looking around the store, his eyes landing on me.
I blinked. "Hey," I spoke up.
He nodded in response. "Hey," he said. He turned and went down the aisle, carefully examining prices, and I leaned my back against the counter as I watched him in the fisheye mirror.
The kid was adorable, no question. He looked about eleven, had blonde hair, which looked like it could use a cut quite honestly, green eyes, and a child's clear complexion. His clothes looked slightly worn, but solid enough to keep him warm enough, even in Florida's winter. He sported a Lands End backpack, empty and damp from the rain. He reached into his pocket and took out the money he had with him, counting it before putting it back in. After going through the next aisle of foodstuffs and examining their prices, pointedly ignoring me, he went back down the first aisle, taking out his money again as if the amount might have changed.
I sighed softly as my mother's words echoed in the back of my head. You can't save the world, Becca. I was always a sucker for a stray. Especially a kid. So I walked out from behind the counter and over to him.
"You need some help?" I asked.
"I'm fine," he said, continuing to be very interested in the products on the shelf.
I paused for a moment. "You know, I'm pretty familiar with the prices of everything here. I might be able to help you get the most out of what money you've got."
The kid finally slid his eyes up to me, taking me in. The green eyes were dark and suspicious, as if he didn't believe I was offering help. This theory of mine was confirmed when he said, "Why?"
"Why not?" I replied with a shrug. "I don't get paid on commission."
It looked like the kid almost smiled at that, but not quite. Instead, he nodded. "Alright. I've got seven fifty-three."
"Okay," I said with a nod, looking over the shelves around me. "My name's Becca, by the way. You?" I asked.
The young boy paused. "Mick Jones," he finally replied.
I smiled at the alias, looking over to him. "Right. Nice to meet you." I went over to the small cluster of clearance items, reviewing what we had currently, and scanned the sale tags on other shelves. "How many are we feeding, for how long?" As I crouched down and took a look at the prices on some of the canned ravioli, the kid remained silent. I looked back over to him, eyebrows raised in a question, and the suspicious eyes were back again. "You hear me, Mick?"
He paused. "I heard you," he said quietly.
I blinked at the non-answer before my face settled into understanding. "I'm not gonna nark on you," I told him, pushing myself to my feet. "I'm not gonna call the cops or CPS. The way I see it, if I do that, you're outta here, still with only seven fifty-three in your pocket, and this time you don't have someone to help you stretch it. You don't look like you're being abused. And you seem pretty smart. If you needed help, you'd ask for it."
The kid pursed his lips, eyes still narrowed, before he spoke. "It's me and my brother. He's seven. My dad shoulda been back from his business trip by now, so it shouldn't be much longer. We're just running a little low."
I nodded. "Alright." I moved my eyes back to the shelves. "Check for stuff that's damaged. If it's open, I can't sell it to you, but if it's damaged I have to give you a discount."
The kid nodded in reply. "Okay." He looked over the shelves with me for the next few minutes, occasionally picking out some stuff, and brought it over to the counter. I picked out the most discounted stuff and brought it over as well.
"So. Guess I'm not the only one in Sanford not celebrating Thanksgiving with a big family get-together after all," I said, glancing to him for a moment.
The kid shrugged, examining a can of soup before finding it acceptable. "There are some TV specials. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is on, then Garfield's Thanksgiving, so Sammy's watching those, then when he goes to sleep I get to watch Lethal Weapon."
"You've got good taste in movies for a kid your age," I replied with a nod of approval. "Sammy's your brother?"
The kid hesitated, blinked, then nodded, not looking to me. "Yea."
He snorted. "He's such a pain in the ass."
I smiled, motioning with what I had in my hands. "Come on, I think we're good."
He nodded and followed me to the counter. I looked over the products, sorting them according to some vague financial plan, and did some math in my head. "Okay…" I mused. I nodded. "I think we're good." I rang everything up, piling it to the left. "Want to know something interesting?"
"Sure," he replied.
"I'm on an twelve hour shift tonight," I told him as I scanned items. "So as long as my register isn't more than five bucks off, nobody'll care." The kid remained silent as I finished before pressing the Total button. The cash register flashed $12.14. "Look at that. Seven fifty-three exactly," I remarked, looking over to him.
The kid stared at me for a moment before he finally let out a small smile. "Look at that," he murmured, reaching into his pocket and taking out his money, handing it over. I pressed the Cash button twice, opening the register, and put everything in, shutting it. I took out the receipt, handing it to him, and he shoved it into his pocket before taking off his backpack and opening it. I helped him put everything into it and he zipped it up, looking back up to me.
He paused for a second, as if wanting to say something. "My name's Dean," he finally told me.
I stuck out my hand. "Nice to meet you."
He shook it, then shifted the weight on his shoulders. "Thanks, Becca," he said quietly.
"No problem," I replied.
Dean turned, walking to the door, and glanced back at me briefly before leaving.
The kid had a great smile when he meant it, I'll say that much.