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corner corner Hunting Grounds

First Experience

by needywriter
July 22, 2004

The young, inconspicuous woman drove the car into an unoccupied space in the parking lot of one of the most visited malls in the state. Her heart beat quickly in her chest, pounding so loudly that she apprehensively glanced around her at the empty cars beside her own. She occasionally, and quite unconsciously, smiled and laughed at her own silliness, but she couldn't contain the enjoyment of the moment even though she feared it might be a matter of embarrassment, and that's what made her even more nervous. After all, she was new in town and had only visited the mall once before.

She turned off the ignition of the uncomely car, a simple white 1992 Ford Escort, nothing that would attract unnecessary attention. She placed her hands on the wheel and nervously rubbed them from side to side, staring blindly ahead, once again asking herself the reason for this trip. She knew she was stalling for time, and looked at the black large shoulder-bag in the passenger seat. She giggled again, opened the stuffed bag, and saw the tools of her new summer trade tightly packed one before the other in two rows. "Okay," she said aloud, the volume - or resolution - in her voice startling her. She smiled again. "I can do this."

She opened the driver's side door, pulled the black bag toward her, and placed it over her head onto her right shoulder. It was unexpectedly heavy, the weight reminding her once again of the mission she was about to undertake on her own. She locked the car, looked around the parking lot, and smiled, almost laughed out loud had the action not risked attracting unnecessary attention.

The young, inconspicuous woman inhaled the urban air deeply, and entered through the automatic doors, the cold, conditioned air cooling her flushed face. She leaned against one of the walls furthest from the doors and any storefronts, and opened the leather flap of the seeminlgy indistinct bag. Carfully, she pulled out the first book, a simple paperback with creased, yellowed pages and a slightly bent cover. She looked about her wittingly, the palms of her hands sweaty where they met the spine of the book. Nobody seemed to have noticed her slatternly entrance, though she felt her pulse racing. She carefully opened the cover of the book and read the notes she had written to herself identifying the location of the book's drop-off.

"On the Pepsi machine by the Lord's & Taylor." She nodded thoughtfully and closed the book, walking slowly, indistinctively toward the marked location. The mall's electronic directory was unnecessary since she had taken a copy of the map of the mall the night before to identify important, indistinct locations for the drop-offs. She did not look at anyone, though many people passed her, but she simply walked ahead toward the Lord's & Taylor wing staring at the Pepsi machine as soon as it came in view.

She reached the well-lit machine, consciously looking around her again, and placed the book on top of the machine, thanking God that she could reach up to it without having to get on her tip-toes - that would be difficult to explain. Her arm froze in mid-air as a man's voice spoke loudly behind her, shocking her and arousing a deep blush in her cheeks. She dropped her arm immediately as the loud man passed, contemptuously speaking into a cell phone,not having noticed her at all. The woman laughed nervously, but quickly moved away from the machine, her heart in her mouth.

She slowly looked back at the paperback book atop the Pepsi machine from the corner of her eye and smiled with satisfaction, feeling the success of her first drop-off.

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