They had not sold anything in the two hours they were there and it was enough to make them look into the sky and beg for a falling anvil. The sun was oppressive, though hidden, lurking in the gray waves of clouds like an invisible ray beam pointed directly to the back of their heads. Their brains were frying. Slow. Burning, slow. Their tired eyes wobbled underneath their strained necks. They were small, constantly looking up to the grimaced faces of customers. They were in a parking lot, made into a pseudo-swat meet but there was no one to meet. The littered streets were empty, the plastic bags of trash must have been dumped by ghosts. The frugal were at home, the frightened were at home, Sophie presumed. They must have felt safe in their small wooden homes.
"Let's go. My feet hurt." Pip said. Sophie looked at him, her eyes went first before her heavy skull followed. She felt sweat in her overalls and her armpits were wet. Looking at Pip's slick, bald head only made the humid feeling worse.
"This is all your fault, you know that?" Sophie said.
"I told you I was sorry, I didn't think the chocolate would melt." He said. She brought her hand down to the box and felt the clay like substance between two finger tips. Like turds, like the sewer was laid out on their small chair. She looked down to the jar of money next to the plastic table they borrowed. She could see the bottom of the glass, where the street ran broken and black.
"I'm not talking about this." She continued. His head lowered. He rubbed his legs against each themselves and his knees looked just about to collapse. "I'm suspended. You know that?"
"And I said I'm sorry." His voice was high pitched, and his shaking body was getting angrier. He could feel his stomach knot tighten.
"What's sorry going to do for me?" She asked. He bit his lips and moved his nose around as his head struggled for an answer. He was sniffing for something that did not exist.
"I don't know." He said.
"You never know, do you. I'm wondering if there's even a brain in there." She said.
He put fingers into the holes of his shirt. They were at the bottom, where the red and blue stripes began to stretch out. He pulled, it was just a goodwill shirt anyways, wasn't worth much and wearing it, talking to Sophie, he began to feel that he wasn't worth much. When he felt a tear he undid his hooked fingers from the small mouths of his shirt and put his hands down on the table.
"Why do you always talk to me that way?" He asked. This was the first time he had spoken back and Sophie did not know how to feel. She looked around, expecting the faces of strangers to give her a direction but there was no one. They all had their backs to them. A homeless man wandered with a scarf dragging through the dirty floor. The wheels of his cart whistled her off. A local baker in the corner of her eye picked his nose, he was supposed to be brushing leaves and grass into the dry street gutters. It was a very lonely place, here in the parking lot. The silence made her angry. She slammed down on the desk this time.
"Why do you always mess everything up?" She asked.
"Why are you so mean?" He asked.
"Why are you such a coward?" She asked.
"Why are you a bitch?"
"Why are you a pussy?"
He was silent. His gaunt face looked out to the street where the pickup trucks were roaming in their low hum that sounded more like a bee than an engine. It was the mild buzz of the city, like white noise, a television channel that no longer worked.
"You never cared about being suspended before! How many times have you gotten in trouble? You can beat up half the school without caring." He said "No, you're mad because your mamma doesn't care about you. No one does and I'm just here to make you feel less alone. Aren't I?"
Her right eye twitched and she felt her hair split and move like bugs were crawling and picking at her scalp. These small sensations came to her neck and waved all across her body. She rose and kicked one of the table stands, it felt like the earth was shaking beneath Pip's scrawny hands. They looked like spider legs and danced back to the sides of his hips. The crows above the roof tops heard the noise, they too ran and left half-eaten cigarette buds on the floor. Some people looked at them now. Most of them curious and not so much concerned with stopping them as they were with watching, entertaining themselves with folded hands over their fat chests.
"Don't you talk about my mom." She pointed to Pip. "I've known you for six years but I don't care to lose you. When'd you suddenly get balls anyway?"
"I'm just tired of you screaming at me. You're a bully." He said.
"Must be high school. You want to practice at looking cool for all your new friends, don't you?" She asked, "You should tell them about how you ball up in the floor whenever you get punched or run to me."
He grabbed her pale wrist. His hand was in a tight grip and he was tensing his muscles like he had never done before. It was a bad fist, she noticed. She did not blink. She was not afraid. She was ready for it, had been for a while now and she too began to tighten her own fist. But before they could pull each other into that deadlock of violence, they felt the shadow of a person. It was imposing and set over their bodies. It held Sophie's shoulder and did not let go.
"Don't fight now." He said. It was a man, wearing too tight of a suit, black undershirt, red tie. His brown shoes did not match his belt and that was the first thing she noticed as she looked up to his tall presence. His bald head was spotted brown, his skin was ashy and cracked like sea water had been made to dry and salt his face. He was holding a sign that had fallen over. It was the advertisement, "SOPHYES FAMUS CANDYES, TASTE U-CAN TRUST."
She regretted letting Pip write. She regretted Pip. They pulled away from each other and Sophie detached the arm on his shoulder.
"I thought you were selling food, not a fight." He smiled. "I was hoping to get some lunch, though I'll settle for a good show."
Pip dragged his feet to the table and started looking for the cleanest bar.
"I'm not selling anything." Sophie closed the box on his hand. He whimpered and pushed her, she pushed back and the man stepped in again.
"We found a customer and you don't even want to sell him anything?" Pip asked between his deep breaths.
"We're closed." She huffed back. He began to convulse in anger and pointed to the floor near her feet to spit. She felt her shoes get wet and wanted to lunge but the man held her back.
"I don't want to be your friend anymore." He said. "I'm done with this. We never play games, we never have fun. It's just this dumb shit every day."
"I don't care. You mess everything up anyway. Why would I care? I'll do better off without you. Now go on, run away like you always do." She reached for her backpack. Pip's eyes were swelling and he wiped fresh tears with his sleeve. It was discolored from the constant bleaching, the tears dampened the stain and made it his shirt darker.
"Fuck you." He walked away. He knocked over a plastic chair and stood up to apologize to the nose picker it belonged to. It was an awkward goodbye, him fidgeting just to turn the corner. When she saw his body disappear into the city, she turned around. The bald man was looking at Pip's direction. His eyes were dead. Discolored. Gray. Were they used too?
"Hey, you," She said. He turned down. "We're - I'm not doing business." She said.
"Oh, won't you sell me one. Sweat heart?" He undid a button on his coat. His stomach rolled out. "They're famous, aren't they?"
"I don't sell. Definitely not to people like you." She said. Some people were beginning to close in on them as they felt it in the air too.
"What do you mean people like me?" His bearded face rustled as he twitched his mouth. It was unkempt and grew like wild bristles, she was afraid of getting scratched by it as he lowered his face.
"I mean weirdos." She tiptoed though could not reach him even as he bent. She repeated, louder. "You hear me, weirdo?"
"That's cruel, girl. Is that how you conduct your business?" He asked.
"Yeah. It is. I say what comes and goes, don't you think otherwise." She said. "And don't you butt in either. That's not proper to do."
"It's not proper to fight with friends."
"I don't have any friends." She said.
He backed away.
"Well then." He showed her his loose teeth, it looked like a half a smile. "Have a nice day. Make sure you apologize. It's not good to lose a friend." He walked. He bumped into a plastic chair and he walked, steady in a slow pace at first, then gaining speed as he neared the corner. When she saw him disappear, she felt a drop in her stomach like a needle had fallen down her throat and poked her. But in the heat of it, with her face flushed red with anger and with the noises of coming footsteps and loose sign posts creaking at the intersections, she could not make sense of her feelings. She wanted to get home. She'd be there for a while after all, it would be nice to start her nest.
She reached for her box of melted chocolates and gripped it. She felt the black, ooze onto her fingers and stain her skin.