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The Exchange MAG
The Exchange by E. D., Avon, CT
I lay wide awake staring at my alarm clock, my eyes open in an exaggerated fashion. The bright green neon lights flashed 11: 30 p.m. I should wait at least one more hour before sneaking out of my house. Waiting was always the hardest part. I could never explain to my parents where I was going or what I was doing. You just knew by the way they talked that they would never understand. I wanted to go back to bed so badly, but I knew that if I let myself fall back asleep, no alarm clock could wake me. I had been performing the same routine every Wednesday for almost a year; by now I knew what it took to stay awake.
But, what the heck, it couldn't hurt if I got the package together a little early. My parents were sleeping anyway. I slowly walked downstairs into the kitchen where I had hid all of the stuff earlier. I prepared everything quickly. I checked it over one last time. I would hate to cheat anyone out of stuff this good. I sniffed it; perfect, I thought, nothing will make him happier than this. I walked over to the closet and threw on my black overcoat and slipped on my hat. Very quietly I exited my house. I knew my contact would already be there; he always was. Not many people go near him in fear he will get mad. People know the corner of 12th Street and Naple Avenue is his territory. The walk there for some reason frightened me. The street lights were my protectors as they led me to and from my destination. On this particularly clear, yet chilly night, many unknown faces were out and about. The regulars all knew where I was going and what I was carrying, but I had to be alert to the faces who did not know me. So, I tightened my coat and walked in measured steps. So many people offered me parts of their measly possessions in exchange for the contents of the bag. But, I knew it would be impossible for one person to supply the streets. I continued my walk to the part of town where not many people wandered. As soon as I reached his corner, I felt powerful amid this pathos. But I suppressed that feeling quickly because I knew that there was no bright line which separated the supplier from the user.
His dark complexion with his gray hair and unshaven face was covered by his torn blankets. I slowly bent down next to him and placed my hand on his undernourished body.
"Charles, it's me, wake up." He sprung out of his blankets flinging me back as he rose.
"Oh I'm so sorry, I am so sorry," he said when he realized it was me.
"It's okay, I know I'm probably early tonight."
"Do I still get the stuff? I'm really sorry I lose track of the time and days."
"Of ... course," I said. "It's still fresh and hot and I know it is your favorite. I'll just leave it here, so you don't have to get out of bed, I know it's going to be a cold night."
I placed the hot spaghetti with sauce and the toasted roll by his side. He looked up at me with a big smile.
"Bless your heart. Will I see you next Wednesday?"
"I'll be here as long as you keep smiling."
I slowly picked myself up from the ground and once again began to follow the glowing light of the street lights back home.