I love soundtracks when I write. "Edward Scissorhands" was the perfect melody of magic and suspense.

The gray-haired security guard narrowed his eyes, taking in Daniel's faded pea coat over the hoodie, and his worn out backpack. Months of travelling had left its mark; his clothes were dingy, he hadn't shaved in a few days, and even his skin was pale and tired-looking. Daniel caught his reflection in one of the video monitors that lined the opposite wall, tracking all the movements inside Willard's department store. No one from school would recognize the zombie he'd become.

The man's wrinkled fingers drummed on the antique wooden desk beside Daniel's pathetic, half-page resume. "You left the education section blank," he said curtly.

"I'm a few credits short of graduating from high school." A few plus some more, Daniel thought to himself. Then he added quickly, "I'm hoping to finish by correspondence in the next few months." A lie. A diploma was the last thing on his "to do" list.

"You dropped out?"

"No." Daniel's cheeks grew warm. He faked a cough, hoping to disguise the blush. He hadn't anticipated having to explain his circumstances. "I just didn't finish the last semester."

"Any trouble with the law?"

"No, sir."

"You can call me Mr. Oliver," he instructed. His eyes barely stayed on Daniel before his attention returned to the paper.

"Okay..." There was an uncomfortable pause, then he added, "Mr. Oliver."

"Daniel Gale," he read, his finger going over the resume as if reading it by brail. "Not a very common name."

Daniel stayed quiet, unsure how to respond. He didn't think his name was all that special.

The questions started again. "You're a long way from home. Why?"

"I'm eighteen," Daniel answered, slightly put out by the insinuation he was a helpless kid. "I've been travelling."

"But not anymore?" One white eyebrow arched, but Mr. Oliver didn't look up.

Daniel was struck by a heavy gloom. He needed this job; it was his last hope. The thought of getting on another plane made him sick. Long ago, he'd made a game of trying to guess which of his fellow passengers had someone waiting for them. A woman with an infant would more than likely be embraced by anxious grandparents, waving a new teddy bear. The middle-aged man wearing a baseball cap was always picked up by his brother or sister. And the girl who checked her makeup just before the plane landed was meeting a boyfriend.

But there was never anyone waiting for Daniel.

Before he could put a spin on his situation, Mr. Oliver spoke again. "Next of kin is your lawyer." It wasn't a question, but he paused, waiting for an explanation.

"My parents are, um...gone." Daniel looked down at his scuffed loafers, taken from his father's closet the day he left home.

"Ever work in a department store?" Mr. Oliver asked. Clearly, the fact that Daniel was on his own didn't concern or interest him. Daniel guessed if he'd been purposely going for the sympathy angle, it wouldn't have worked on this tough crank.

"No," he answered.

"Any experience with security?"


"How long have you lived in the city?" he asked suspiciously, as if trying to catch Daniel in a lie.

"Just arrived." Daniel felt like he was in his school's state hockey championship all over again, but this time, every slap shot was missing the net. His fingers slipped inside his jacket pocket and found the small round object. He managed a half smile—feeling the Magic 8 Ball keychain always made him relax.

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