The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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This memory was of the day that Robyn realized her first job was a front for money laundering and she quit.

The white landline phone barely rang. No. The white landline phone never rang. 

It had dust between the buttons that stuck to the plastic surface it laid on. The phone was on the single work desk in the back office whose fake wooden top was peeling at the corner. It sat next to an equally old and useless cash register.

Today, the phone rang.

Robyn was in the front of the store when she heard the phone ring. She thought nothing of it, assuming it was another store’s phone until it became persistent.

“Uh, Robyn,” Mikey asked, “do we answer that phone back there?”

“That’s ours ringing?” Robyn had worked at the Tropic Sun candy store for a year and often forgot they even had a phone. She hurried into the back office but stopped short when she reached the phone, hesitantly standing there watching the little red-light flash on and off with each ring. Decidedly, she reached forward.

“H-Hello?” Robyn cleared her throat but her voice still came out barely louder than a whisper, “Tropic Sun, Robyn speaking.”

 “Robyn, it’s Mary,” the voice on the phone answered, “I don’t think we’ve met. I’m one of the owners.”

Robyn turned around to look at the employee pictures on the yellow office wall. At the top she found a picture of a middle aged heavyset woman with brown curly hair. The name tag under her read Mary.

“Is the cash register still in the back office?”

“Yes.”

“Plug it in.” Robyn obeyed. The cash register was clean, unlike the phone, but the numbers on the buttons were almost worn off like you would expect with the main register that is heavily used.

“I need you to enter these kinds of candy exactly.” Mary rattled off a list that totaled nearly 60 pounds of candy that, if it were actually sold, would clear out a third of their stock. “Robyn, you’ve been there for a while, right? Every shift I need you to enter a few of these candies into this cash register. Keep a list in the desk of the amounts and kinds on the dates you enter them.” The phone receiver clicked and then sounded the dial tone.

Robyn stared down at the list of candy in her hand not wanting to put her name on it. She opened the single drawer in the desk and found it overflowing with receipts similar to the one she held, all with dates on them like the way she was instructed. Next to the dates were names of past employees that she had known to be fired or just stopped showing up without an explanation. Her stomach dropped as she realized what this large random influx of cash meant and she wanted nothing to do with it.

“Mikey,” she called from around the door frame. She didn’t want this sweet kid to get pressured into doing anything illegal just as she almost was. “Lock up and tomorrow find a new job.”

Quitting Day

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