Socks and I stand outside the bakery, both of us with our pant legs rolled up to our mid shins, our knee high socks covering our legs from the cold. I stand with a gray shirt on, brown bandanna hanging loosely from my neck, he with a home made white shirt that reads:
Printed over the right of the chest. We stand in the twenty six degree cold, outwardly seeming unaffected by the temperate, cigarettes clutched tight between our fingers, raising them quickly to our lips. Heave, hold, and ho as the smoke pours from our mouths and nostrils. We have yet to begin our day.
For moments we stand in silence. Socks tapping gently on the screen of his phone with a free, barely operable popsicle finger. I stare straight up into the night sky and wonder what planet or star that is, over there, just past the moon. The brightest one to my eye. I wonder how many other people are looking at it in that exact moment. The thought evaporates as I’m thinking it. Raise, heave, hold, ho. Smoke from the chimney in my lungs fills the air.
“Oh, God damn it, Mom.” Socks blurts out suddenly.
I look over at him and cock my head to the side. “What?”
Socks’ mom is kicking his ass at scrabble, apparently. While he’s explaining the intensely dramatic power plays and strategies used by both sides of this ongoing war, I dab my cancer out in a half frozen pool of what I hope to be water and it dies with a sudden “hsstt”. Somehow I manage to make my fingers work and I punch in the door code as quickly as I can. It beep beep beeps at me, and the door gives way. I pull it open and slip inside as quickly as possible.