"A few weeks in she picked up a job at a local grocery store where an old friend from school had been working. She donned a hideous forest green t-shirt each morning with the market’s insignia screen-printed where a breast pocket might’ve gone. She soon memorized the countless produce codes. She learned how to reject expired coupons with a dead-eyed gaze that said it all. But, as always, she was drawn to the wrong kinds, an inexplicable pull that careened her into the orbit of the ne’er-do-wells. At the grocery store this took the form of a couple of stock boys who had singled her out the moment she’d come in for her first day: her pants too tight, her makeup overdone, her platinum blondness like a homing beacon for the lascivious. And though her appearance may have invited stares by males wily enough not to avert their gaze, she was quite frank in her rejection of them — “You’re really creepy, dude,” she would say constantly to a fellow cashier whose favorite punchlines involved something sexual or suggestive. But he would just smile and shrug, as if it was his boyish unction and charm that possessed him, that it couldn’t be helped and aw shucks wasn’t it at least a little endearing? Kelley did not seem to think so, but there was also a certain lightness in her responding tone—even when she used the foulest of language—that suggested that she was open to conversation in some way, or that perhaps her mind could be changed if you could be funny enough, or provide the right kind of good time; if you gave her something to work with that she did not already possess. And so men fell about her and tried to please her in those ways, to gain favor. Their goal was, ostensibly, to claim her sexually, but many settled to simply orbit her, to make her laugh or to tease her until she’d punch them in the arm or give them a shove. Attention. When Kelley was around, their bland grocery store day-to-day—trolling the shelves and mopping up spilled milk, harping on the same tired inside jokes—was transformed by her exotic presence. They became potential victors, allowing them a greater purpose to be had among the florescent lighting and linoleum, the endless tracks of cereal boxes, the refrigerated pens of thawing meat.”
"She could feel her pulse butterflying at her neck and reverberating through to her palms. The tips of her fingers felt cold, and she felt unpleasantly that she had to use the bathroom, and yawn in excess. Symptoms of anxiety, she reminded herself, attempting to master the very human and anatomical impulses of the body as it seized up at the potential of failure, using the only tools it possessed to primally combat the onslaught. She had read once that the brain housed over one hundred billion nerves. She imagined each one of them now, firing rapidly, lighting up the gray matter landscape with rescue flares, whole segments plotting escape routes, a million others drafting a resignation."