{Short Story Series }


Stumbling through the dark with icy wind nipping at his face, Baby made his way to the back of the Convenience store for his break. It had been a rough day at work, and all he had been looking forward to was to find a quiet place to be alone with his thoughts. Once Baby had found his regular spot, he pulled out a pencil case with a cigarette box concealed safely inside. This was Baby’s darkest secret. No one knew, and he wanted it to stay that way. His greatest fear was his mother finding out and disappointing her yet again. Baby had made a promise to himself that he wasn’t going to turn out like his father or his older brothers. However, the one thing that he had in common with  them was his smoking habit. It was the only thing that could calm him down and he hated  himself for it. There was something about the smell of tobacco that he found intoxicatingly addicting.

Baby fumbled with the pencil case until he was able to pull out the crumpled cigarette box stuffed at the bottom. When he opened the package, he noticed that he had only one left. This time I’m really going to quit.  

He took out his box of matches, struck one, and as he brought it closer to the cigarette in his mouth he stopped. He looked down and noticed a pair of doe-like eyes watching him. A small tabby kitten stared back at him too afraid to move. It must have been digging in the trashcan for food because Baby noticed a fragile skeleton resting just below the kitten’s paper thin skin. “Come here, I’m not gonna hurt you.” Baby stuffed the cigarette into his back pocket and reached out toward the kitten. To his surprise the kitten trotted up to him and began mewing loudly while rubbing against his shoes. “You can’t stay out here. Where’s your mom?” Baby looked everywhere around the dumpster to find it’s mother but she was nowhere to be found. “You’re alone. Just like me.” Snow began to gently fall so Baby picked up the kitten and made his way around the store.

Baby walked back into the convenience store with the kitten resting snugly in his jacket pocket. “Hey boss, I need to leave early. I’ve got some things back home I need to take care of.” The boss looked at baby and scoffed, “That’s the third time this week Sam. One more time and you won’t have a job to come back to!” Baby laughed before heading toward the pet food aisle. This place was so understaffed that Baby knew he wouldn’t get fired. They needed him, maybe a little more than they cared to admit. “You’re still kind of small so I’ll start you off on cans  for now.” With one hand in his pocket stroking the kitten’s head and the other grabbing the cans of food, he picked out a variety of flavors and made his way to the register. As he walked up the woman behind the counter looked at Baby and then down at the cans. ” You got yourself a pet Baby?” “Hardly,” said Baby. He was too focused on the glass case full of cigarettes behind her. It was almost as if they were beckoning him to rescue them from their glass prison. Baby tore his eyes away from the cigarettes, paid, and then made his way out into the cold night. 

As Baby walked, he began to get that familiar itch again. His hands began to twitch as he craved to feel another cigarette in between his fingers. Baby stuck his hand back into his pocket to remind himself that this time, he promised to stop. He needed to stop. He walked around the corner to the bus stop when he noticed someone staring up at the sky by a trash fire. “Hey man, you okay over there?” The boy looked over a little too fast for Baby’s liking. “Yeah I’m okay.” He squinted before trotting over to the bus stop. “Hey you’re that guy that works at the convenience store on the corner, huh? What’s your name again? Sam?” “I don’t go by that, everyone calls me Baby.” The boy raised his eyebrow and smiled, “That’s an unusual nickname. My name’s Ray, nice to meet you.” Baby glared at him, ” You got a cigarette?” “No, I don’t mess around with that stuff.” Ray paused for a minute and said, “And if you do, you should probably stop. That stuff can kill you.” Baby looked at the ground and began to shuffle his feet. ” Everything can kill you these days.” ” I know that’s right. Hey what do we have here?” The kitten had poked it’s head out of Baby’s pocket and was now staring at Ray. “Oh that, it’s nothing. Look it was nice meeting you but don’t you have somewhere to be? It’s getting cold out here.” “Not really,” Ray said, ” I have to sit out here with this fire ’til it dies down. Why don’t you come over? the next bus doesn’t come for another hour and that pet you got there could use some rest.” Baby looked down the street. Normally he would have declined, but he could feel the snow beginning to seep through the soles of his cracked shoes. Baby’s apartment was too far to walk so he figured he could use some rest.

They walked across the street and sat around the now dimly lit  trash fire. Ray rummaged through his backpack, took out some crumpled papers and stuck them into the embers. He prodded the paper a bit until it caught ablaze and then held his hands over the small flames. Meanwhile Baby peeled the top off of one of the cans of cat food for the kitten and set them both on his lap. While the kitten devoured it’s food, the two conversed for an hour until the bus arrived. “Well I guess this is it then,” said Ray as Baby stood up. “Yeah I guess so. It was nice meeting you Ray.” “Likewise, have you figured out a name for this little guy yet?” Baby looked down at the tiny kitten staring up at him from his pocket. “Honestly I was just thinking about calling him cat.” Ray laughed. “I’m sure you’ll come up with something. See ya around!” Baby nodded and boarded the bus. He made sure to sit at the very back so that the driver wouldn’t see or hear the stowaway fighting it’s way out of his pocket. When the kitten finally broke free, Baby noticed that it had torn open his box of matches and chewed on every last one. “Well, I guess I can’t use these anymore.” Baby looked at the kitten and laughed before dislodging one of the sticks from in between the kitten’s teeth. “Matches. I think that name suits you.” 

Hi there. 🙂 If you have read this far, I really appreciate you!  My schedule has been insane these past couple of weeks and I finally had some free time to sit down and write this short story. While working on this post, I decided that I want each story to tie into each other in some way. However, if I come up with an idea that I feel deserves it’s own separate world, then I will gladly begin a new series. If you have already read my first short story, Silent Winter, then you will be able to quickly pinpoint the connection between the two. But, if you haven’t read it and are completely lost, please check it out! I also figure that my stories have plenty of room for improvement, so if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions do not hesitate to email me. Anything helps and I will answer back as quickly as I can. Anyway, thank you so much for reading and I hope you liked it! 🙂 

Until next time,

J’Anne ❤


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