The following short story is based on a reality that many teen girls I know have dealt with.
Ah, the rush of adrenaline running through her veins!
She swaggers through the aisles of the drugstore next to her high school in between exams with a bag of books, taking handfuls of lipgloss off the shelf and dropping them silently between the binders marked “Science 8” and “English 8”.
She doesn’t even look at the colours but moves on to the next section and grabs a compact powder and tosses it in among the rest.
Her friends follow behind her at a distance, snickering and blocking the view of the oblivious staff behind the makeup counter.
Georgia had developed a cockiness with her stealing since she started going to the mall with her friends on their lunch breaks and coming back to class with a haul of stolen goods. “It isn’t that bad because it’s not like I’m taking something personal. Corporations can afford the loss,” she thought as she pulled her jeans over 6 new thongs in the Winners changing room.
She digs in the pockets of a pair of khakis, still on the hanger, and finds one more thong with the tag on it. She takes the tag of and puts the thong in her pocket. She walks out and gives the pants and the plastic sign that says, “1 item” to the change room attendant.
Back at home after her final exam, Georgia locks herself in her room with a roll of toilet paper and tries on all the new shades of lipgloss she bought. Pink, Mauve, Purple, Brown, Gold. There is a rainbow pile of toilet paper kisses on the floor when she is finished.
She takes a small suitcase out from under her bed and opens it. There is a mountain of makeup inside and Georgia dumps the ugly colours inside of it.
She takes off her pants and thongs and shoves 7 new pairs of underwear into her overflowing underwear drawer.
She lies down on her bed and falls asleep with the rest of her clothes on. She dreams about getting into Hogwarts and turning down Harry Potter when he asks her out on a date until she wakes up at 1 p.m. the next day.
Georgia is running. Running as fast as she can in a pair of pink flip flop sandals. She’s at the mall again and her best friend Danielle watches her dodge a mother with a stroller. Danielle has been stuck with an oversized shopping bag full of clothes. She pulls out her cellphone and calls her mom.
“Hey mom, Georgia and I are finished. Can you come pick me up?”
Georgia curses her luck as she runs out the front doors only to find she’s still being pursued by the most athletic security guard she’s ever seen.
A portly security guard sits across from Georgia in an underground parking lot office.
“If you had run away from me, I wouldn’t have bothered!”
She is still catching her breath when the guard who chased her comes out from behind the plexiglass booth to inform her that the police have been called.
“I would have just called your parents. Now you’ve resisted arrest and you’ll get a criminal record. I hope you weren’t planning on leaving the country anytime soon.”
Georgia’s throat constricts until it aches. She fights back tears as she thinks about her mother and stepfather shaking their heads in disappointment while they get on a flight to Mexico, leaving her behind.
The portly security guard asks, “Are you sure you can’t reach your parents?”
“They’re both working,” Georgia chokes back.
The guard who chased her, softens a little at the sound of her voice.
“What does your father do?”
“He actually works in the towers next door. He’s a security guard there.”
The portly security guard leans forward.
“Why don’t we just try calling his cell. If he picks up and can come down here we’ll call off the police.”
A female security guard enters the room with a rough looking young man.
“Fake bills, we’re going to do a test,” she barks and they pass through to the back room.
Georgia’s father turns back to look at his daughter, sitting in her pink flip flops and matching pink cheeks.
The athletic guard breaks the silence.
“I’m actually pretty impressed. She ran really well despite her shoes. Nearly knocked over a woman and her stroller, but I run triathlons and she kept ahead of me for quite some time before she gave up in the parking lot.”
He leans against the security counter, smiling at her father.
“You might want to put her in track and field. Sports are supposed to be a good way to help troubled teens,” he adds.
Her father turns to the guard and says, “only just a teenager at 14, but that’s not a bad idea… is it Georgia? You could use some exercise to get fit for modelling.”
Georgia looks up at her father and the fit security guard.
“I’m not troubled, and you know I don’t want to model anymore… I’m too short.”
She looks at the security guards, they both smile at her, “Fit and Fat,” she thinks. She smiles back for the first time, her nerves calmed.
Georgia and her father say good bye outside his office building.
“I guess your mom and I won’t have to punish you. Banned from the mall for 5 years and it seems like those guys taught you a lesson before I got there.” He smiles at Georgia and laughs.
“Thanks Dad. I’ll tell mom when I get home then you can talk about it.”
“Love you Georgia.”
“Love you Dad,” and Georgia walks away to the bus station.
Three weeks later, Georgia climbs out of her father’s car at the high school track field. A small group of teens and two coaches greet her with smiles, and Georgia recognizes a girl from her class.
The girl comes up to Georgia.
“Hey, how come you’re starting track?”
Georgia takes a sip from her water bottle and grimaces.
“What’s wrong?” asks the girl.
“Nothing. I just mixed some vodka with my water and it tastes terrible. I was afraid I would get tired so I thought this would loosen me up a bit.”
The girl laughs, then goes serious.
“You’re joking right?”
Georgia laughs, “Yes, of course I’m joking. No, I put advil in my water. Now I know why they only have it pill form.”
“So how come you’re joining track halfway through the season?”
“Got caught stealing and the security guard said I was so fast I should do the 100 meter sprint. So here I am.”
Georgia pours out her water into the grass.
“Mind if I share your water today? I can’t drink this,” Georgia asks.
The girl stammers, “sure, but-”
“Thanks.” Georgia picks up her bag and walks toward the coaches who are calling for them to gather around. The swagger is back in her step.