Elijah Everett, Eli to most, sat on a stool with his back hunched over and his elbows propped on the counter near the register. His hand absently kept flicking his dark hair from his eyes as he looked down at the rumpled paperback clutched in his other hand. The words on the page were as familiar to him as the voice of his mother and he couldn't keep himself focused on the storyline.
He was at work, as he was every other weekday from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon. The sign out from read 'Martha's Books', though Eli wasn't sure why the used book store was named such. The old man who owned the place was by no means named Martha, his name was Jim, and as far as Eli knew, no one named Martha worked there. Perhaps, he found himself thinking, Martha was the name of one of Jim's old love interests, or maybe he just liked the ways 'Martha's Books' sounded in comparison to 'Jim's Books'.
I'm sure most of you are asking yourselves why it mattered so much to Eli why the store was named what it was, but that's just how he was. He wondered about the most mundane and random, seemingly unimportant and trivial things that most other people wouldn't think twice about. He couldn't help it, and once his mind asked a question he couldn't stop thinking of the possibilities until he had a definite answer.
The book store was empty save for a middle aged woman browsing the non-fiction section. Eli didn't do well when he had nothing to occupy his time. When he was idle, his thought became a whirlwind and he was unable to do anything about it. The only way to keep him focused why to remain busy at all times. But that just wasn't possible.
He closed the book and pushed it to the side, grabbing up his slurpee cup with was covered in condensation, leaving a little ring of water on the counter. He brought the cup to his mouth, finishing off the melted, red, fruity liquid at the bottom.
Eli had chronic insomnia, meaning he rarely ever slept and when he did it was disturbed and didn't last very long. Because of this, he was practically always tired and his muscles felt as if they wanted to collapse. He found, that the high sugar content in slurpees gave him a kind of high that made his fatigue more manageable. Sure, he knew that caffeine would be significantly better, but he couldn't stand the bitter taste of anything remotely like coffee, so he would just stick with his ice and artificial fruit flavoring.
"Excuse me," he heard a voice say, a slight angry tone coating the words, snapping him from his roaming thoughts.
"Yes ma'am? How can I help you?" Eli asked, looking up at the woman who had been looking at the non-fiction books. She slammed three heavy hard covers onto the counter with a scowl.
"You can help me by doing your job. I've been standing here for ten minutes as you still haven't rung up my books." She said, obviously unhappy. Eli hadn't noticed her, but she had probably been trying to get his attention for some time and he'd just been too consumed thinking of…well anything…to be of any service.
"I'm sorry, ma'am. Paper or plastic?" he said, as pressed in the prices of the books and printed out a receipt. Twenty-one years old and this is what his life had come to; dealing with disgruntled customers and asking paper or plastic. It was by no means his ideal job, though he did enjoy reading when he could actually pay attention to the reading material, but he needed the money and he needed a job. Eli shuddered at the thought of having absolutely nothing to do during the day if he lost his job. His sleepless nights were filled with silence and thinking, his days spent working were the only things keeping him sane.
"Excuse me," the woman in front of him huffed, "Never mind, just hand me those." She placed the money beside him and yanked the books from his grasp, walking out the door as the bell above it dinged. Eli sighed, he must've zoned out again. If he kept it up, he really would have to figure out something else to do during the day. That was the third unhappy customer of the day and getting fired was becoming a very real possibility.
The rest of the day passed by in a painfully similar and slow manner. Eli got more and more fidgety the closer it got to closing time. At four o'clock on the dot, his boredom would start to haunt him until he could go back to work the next morning. If he was lucky he might get a few hours of peace in the form of restless sleep, but Eli knew better than to hold out hope on that.