Just a Small Town

The dark clouds boomed loudly, making a thump. I ran quickly into the gas station, splashing water into my shoes. The bell rang as I walked into the candy-filled store. Finally, a familiar face! “Uh- Aira! Didn’t know I’d see you..”, she looks down at the register. Blue shuffled awkwardly, putting her hands behind her back. I looked down, grabbing a white chocolate Hershey’s bar. I didn’t want her to feel awkward. I pull out my small pocket book, meticulously counting every coin. I’ll have to have ramen again tonight. Blue comes back from behind the counter. “Is that all?”, she asks, “Sure.”

I walk back outside into the rain, my apartment is just across the street. I run across, looking quickly for any cars. I glance behind me and see a shadow slipping into the darkness. The Ring doorbell,bright blue light, makes me remember I forgot my keys. Oops. Buzz. “Who is it?I hear in a monotone voice. 

“Ma- Aira. I forgot my keys.” I can never remember the new name. “Hey, uh, Mr.Webber it’s me.” I make an awkward laugh. “Could you use the spare I made for you?” 

I can hear his uneven breathing louder than a choir. He’s old. “Okay,”. I hear the click of the door. I pat off my shiny shoes. The mess of bright orange hair, Toney, the elevator guy, greets me. “Rainy day innit?” he says in a thick Irish accent. “Yeah.” I avoid contact with him, maybe out of habit, or disrespect. The ride is quick, an awkward smile is shared between us. “Bye”, I say, I wave. I hear him say “exiting ele-” and then this weird static when I leave. He’s probably just confirming I got off.  

My hand gets wet when I reach my hand back into my pocket to grab my Hershey bar. I rip it open, smelling the condensed milk. I take a bite, and it melts in my mouth. My eyes shut with satisfaction as memories rush back to me. I remember getting my first car with a basket of hershey bars. My inner peace is satisfied. After the 3 months I’ve had, I deserve it. I see the lump on the rug, and yell “Thanks Mr. Webber!” to the room next door. The door makes a satisfying click when it unlocks, I swing open the creaky door. I switch the light on, revealing my apartment. I’m annoyed at the boxes in the corner, I should’ve unpacked them at the beginning of my move. I’ll just do it right now. 

The pictures in the box brought back memories of everything: pictures of me and my dad, others of me in the pool, in my humongous room, and in the car. God, I miss that room. It wasn’t that long ago before everything changed. I still remember the smell of dollar bills, it was nothing compared to what I have now. My trashy apartment reminds me of the palace I had before. I remember scrubbing the blood stains out of the carpet, the musty smell of the old dish soap, and the bright alarming police tape. I should focus on the good memories. I remembered getting a new Louis bag, marveling over the shiny gold on the luxurious handbag. I should’ve had that, and more. If it weren’t for him… but now all the pictures with my family are worthless, I’ve moved on.  I grab a black trash bag and throw them out hastily, as to not bear another surge of jealousy for what I could have still had. 

I have to clean all of this, it’s a mess. I’ve been out for most of the day. I turn on the radio, it plays “Firework” by Katy Perry. I dance around with my eyes closed, feeling the beat. A moment of freeness and passion always comes in this song, between jumps during the chorus.The music lasts for a few seconds. “Ads… shoot”, I mumble under my breath. Could this day get any worse? I scroll on the radio, finding nothing on the FM channel. “AM it is”. Static. When I was just about to turn it off, I heard a voice. At first it was just static, going in and out. “In- the- apart- 306”. That’s my room number. I listen, furrowing my eyebrows. “Sir? When are we going to take her?”. I turn up the volume. “We’ll decide later. How much will we get, Blue?”. Blue? Blue, that’s my only friend! The only person who had been nice to me. The only one. “4 million, Sir, from dad’s-”, it cuts off. I click the button to turn the radio off, with tears in my eyes. I would never think anyone would betray me like this. Oh God, what do I do? I fall to the floor, bending against the wall. My arms curl towards my head while I sob internally. I can’t breathe! 

I need to call someone, my old best friend. She wouldn’t betray me would she? 

I pick up the phone slowly, dialing her number. My eyes gloss over with tears.  “Ellawyn?” I ask, my voice cracking. “Oh my god, M, are you okay? I haven’t seen you in so long, where are you?”, Ellawyn was always worrying about me. 

I cut her off. “They’re following me, I can’t- I just don’t know what to do.”, she seems confused. “Who’s following you? Are you okay? I know all the things with your dad, you know the court and the will. It was supposed to have you in it, but you’re doing ok…. Right?”. I dodge her questions once more.  “I know, that’s why they’re following me.”


“Look, I don’t know, okay?”. My head is racing, moving faster than a race car. “My dad’s debt, he had all the taxes, right? They must be here for that, he didn’t pay them.” I sob, trying to pull myself together. My head is hot, I just need to get it all out. 

“I know the money was a huge let-down for you, you wanted to go to Yale or whatever. Why are they following you? It’s not your fault, you didn’t make the debt. It went to you when he…you know. But I thought…. Why are they following you? You haven’t done anything!”

“Because I killed him, Ell.”

She goes silent.

Adaline Sand is a 12 year old from West Philadelphia. She goes to SLA@Beeber middle school as a 7th grader while enjoying her time at Mighty Writers every week. Adaline has been going to MW since September of 2021.