Rough Waves
Jonathan “Tate” Barca slipped under the cover of the night. The moonless darkness blanketed him as he quietly picked the lock of the doorknob to a corner store.
“Hurry up,” hissed a voice behind him. Jonathan caught a glimpse of two deep blue pupils, swinging their gaze around as they looked for people. “If you were to go any slower, we’d be caught.”
Jonathan heard the familiar click and rolled his eyes. “If you were to be any louder, we would be caught.”
He gently swung open the creaking glass door. Inside, the smell of packaged chips and candy tickled his nostrils. The dim light of the stars reflected off of the metal shelves of the store, making the room glow.
Jonathan’s eyes adjusted to the light. He crept past the shelves of artificial fruit gummies and bottles of soda.
“How much should we take?” The words startled Jonathan, and he jumped. The floor echoed his feet’s assault to the ground dangerously.
“Alex, you scared me,” Jonathan muttered bluntly as his twin brother walked to his side. The two of them, standing together in the ghostly light, looked like a mirrored image of one.
“How much?” Alex pestered again.
“Not too much for the guy to notice,” Jonathan tiptoed to the cash register and picked it open. The smell of money hungered him more than the sweet food of the corner store.
“But enough for some food and a new blanket,” Alex finished. He fished out the little post-it note that the cashier used for recording the amount of money. Hastily, Alex grabbed a new post-it note. He scribbled down all the numbers, then subtracted twenty dollars from the total of yesterday’s sale.
Jonathan’s fingers hovered over the bills.
“Take twenty,” Alex whispered, “and lock it and we’re outta here.”
Jonathan found a twenty dollar bill and quietly locked the register again. They walked out of the store, feet light as Jonathan gripped the twenty.
“Mom’s going to flip,” Alex said worriedly. “We can’t show the money to her.”
Jonathan looked up to the sky. His thin, ragged clothes were patched together by the last of Mom’s threads, and his jeans were his long gone father’s, three sizes too big and held together by an old belt.
“We won’t,” Jonathan said finally, resuming his walk. “We buy the stuff little by little when we need it the most, so Mom won’t notice.”
They stopped below a street lamp, and turned left, approaching the side of town where people didn’t want to park their cars. The side where most people try to avoid eye contact with anyone living there.
Jonathan fumbled with the keys, finally getting the door open.
An old clocked growled the time at them: 1:00.
“Mom should be home in an hour,” Jonathan announced. The small one room house was all that he had ever known in his life. He laid down on the floor, draping himself with a thin, thread-bare blanket.
There was something hard in the floor.
Jonathan twisted around, uncomfortable.
“Go to sleep and stop moving,” Alex hissed.
“I can’t,” Jonathan twisted again, “There’s something beneath me.”
“Pull it out,” Alex muttered, and rolled to his side. Jonathan got to his knees and looked down. Stuck in the old wooden floorboards, halfway out, was a silvery ring.
Looping his index finger in the hole, Jonathan tugged. With surprising ease, it flew out.
The band of the ring was titanium: silvery, lightweight, and hollow. A piece of the wide ring had been cut out, and filled in with clear, thin glass. Inside of the hollow ring, it was filled with a gold-tinted liquid. The water glimmered, and the light it reflected pulsed rhythmically like a heart.
It looked too big, but Jonathan slipped it onto his middle finger anyway. For a moment, it was loose, but then it shrunk, collapsing within itself to fit his skinny finger.
The pulsing glow of the ring whispered his name.
“What?” Jonathan whispered back to the object. It sounded weird, but it felt right. He shifted sides, staring at the moonlit ceiling, watching the shadows dance.
“Go to sleep and stop moving!” Alex murmured.
Jonathan opened his mouth to protest, but shut it, the weight of sleep gently pushing down on his eyelids.
Then, darkness swelled in his vision, flowing over him in a gentle form named sleep.
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