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3.6 Day Two: Lizzie

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You'd think I came to the grocery store to rob it.

People I passed gave me weird looks and held their bags closer to their chests to keep the grubby looking frizzy-haired gremlin from snatching their stuff. I dashed through the front sliding doors, keeping my chin planted on my chest. In my brain, if I didn't spot Parker on the way into the store and just happened to run into her while checking out, that looked way cooler.

Yeah, cause everything about this SCREAMED cool.

I decided that "something" meant Flaming Hot Cheetos and a random can of spaghetti off the shelf. I debated grabbing more, but that made me wonder how much visiting Parker at work would cost me on my allowance of twenty dollars a week that was really just supposed to be for gas money. I didn't realize being crazy was so expensive.

"Lizzie? What are you doing here?"

I jumped, fumbling with my stuff. My can of spaghetti slipped from my hands and smacked the tile floor. Parker stood right next to me. I blinked, almost not recognizing her at all, as if I needed to wait for my eyes to adjust in a dark light. It was definitely Parker with her freckles, her copper hair piled into a messy bun, and with every single one of her nails painted a different color, but she wore plain black pants, black ruddy shoes, and a belt. She even wore a navy blue polo that was tucked in, underneath a typical winter coat with a furry collar.

"Uniforms don't suit you," I blurted before I could stop myself.

Parker snorted. "Right?" She raised her arms to show the true horror of the outfit. "I'm dressed like my father and that sucks. Can you believe they wouldn't even let me put pins on the apron?"

"There's an apron added to this mess?"

"It can always get worse." She chuckled and picked my can up for me. She rubbed her finger over the dent and replaced it with a nicer one. I smiled, feeling a bit shy all of a sudden. My cheeks warmed as I accepted the new can. Parker asked again, "So, what's up? Why are you here?"

The truth would sound something like:

"I was worried about you."

"You seemed upset earlier and I wanted to make sure you were alright."

"I've come to offer you snacks in exchange for a smile."

Instead, I told Parker, "Camille demanded chips. I didn't even know you worked here. Are you on break?" I remarked on the bag hanging off her shoulder.

Parker nodded. "Nah, I don't clock in for like an hour, so I'm just loitering. Do you wanna hang out? We could go check out the decorations downtown."

My heart thrilled like a hand raking across the full length of the piano keys. I loved downtown. This whole place was just another nightmare inside suburbia, but the Historic Downtown area let me pretend to be from a place bigger than me, a special place.

To avoid something I didn't mean again, I bit my lips together and nodded. We walked by the Friendly Finds Deli and grabbed some stuff from the cooler before heading to my car. Parker asked if I wanted to grab some hot chocolate and that was always a big yes for me. She had me drive to our downtown area, about ten minutes away and instead of pulling up to the coffee shop that houses the best iced coffee in the entire world, we walked to a homemade stand.

"Awesome," Parker greeted two bundled up little kids at the table. They were wrapped in more layers than I had layers of deep-rooted anxiety. They had big brown eyes peeking through their hair and their scarves and little button noses. Parker said, "I thought you guys would be closed by now. Lizzie, this is Crissy and Mitchell."

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