An Empty Place

Kalen Schack

 Brilliant white fluorescent lights reflect off the speckled laminate floor. Recently mopped
aisles shimmer under the flickering beams above. The mesmerizing sign, hung crookedly from
the window, flashes: “OPEN” on and off in red and blue neon, radiating into the abyssal night.
The harrowingly welcoming message emits a low crackling buzz then falls silent. The air was
pregnant with the potent scent of gasoline, lingering around the tall, plastic pump terminals,
with their ridgid tubing and grimy handles. The keypad’s plastic coverings are worn through
from decades of motorist fingers and scathing sun.

On this night, the rocks are still warm from the day’s light. The clock reads “1:16”. A lit
cigarette wastes itself away in a crack on the sidewalk below a dusty payphone, its dangling
handset vocalizing a hollow tone. In the card reader, a peeling credit card ending in 1182
protrudes from a slot. The message on the screen reads; “Please remove card” and the device
honks its tiny speaker in agreement. Behind the counter, the mosaic of cigarettes looms and
dominates the room. Shining, crumpled packages of snacks want nothing more than to be
adopted into a sweaty truck driver’s mouth. This deserted place provides comfort in its lack of
judgement and its ghostly tranquility.

The frantically spiraling moths with their dusty wings makes a street light flicker. the
beam glowing into the dust of the arid night – a traveler’s respite from the black road.

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