The Devil You Know

I’m safe as long as I keep to a schedule.

Every Saturday afternoon at four, I drive into town for groceries. That late in the day the mothers with their two- point-three kids and the old ladies with their double coupons have cleared out and I can stock up on enough Smirnoff to last the week. “Party tonight,” I always say to the bag boy and give him my best smile. My neighbors probably notice the empties in the trash and gossip behind my back, speculating why I drink my life away when I’m only twenty and passably attractive. Guess by now they’ve forgotten the headlines and moved on with their lives. Must be nice.

I push my cart slowly and double-check my list. Toilet paper, tampons, fish sticks, aspirin. Turning into the produce section, I glimpse a tall man with salt-and-pepper hair squeezing peaches, hard enough to bruise. He drops every other one into a bag.

I stop short, my breath trapped in my throat.

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