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The Merchant Devil Part 1

Alright folks, this is my first story I’m posting. It’s about a young girl who goes through some strange periods of time in her new life and she is living to regret every choice she ever made. Enjoy!

The Merchant Devil

By Terrin Jarrell

Valerie Dalton knew she was going to die. It was an inevitable fact that she could not escape. But that did not stop her from lying to herself that it was going to be alright. She thought she had led a good life, but in her final days, it was becoming more apparent that wasn’t entirely true. At the underwhelming grand age of twenty-four she’d accomplished absolutely nothing in life and the only thing she understood was being a terrible daughter and a worse girlfriend. Thinking of Jack sent a wave of nausea and upset ripping through her stomach. Watching a stream of blood flow out of her nose, she picked up a filthy blue rag off the dirty motel room floor and dabbed dully. She was dying of course, and it was all due to that man. That dreadful man with the too-wide smile that seemed to know everything yet revealed nothing. Wearing a black suit and white tie, he managed a rather old time respectable and almost handsome look if not for that smile, that seemed to be plastered to his face like drywall.

“Excuse me ma’am, I believe you dropped this,” he had said to her with a smile.

So charming at the time but she had felt a stir of unease and an almost urge to flee the scene, flee his smile. Instead she returned a flashy array of white teeth with what she’d hoped was her most pleasant waitress smile and said,

“Thank you.”

“My pleasure.”

Accepting her napkin back that day, Valerie knew she had sealed her doom. He almost seemed to be saying, “Excuse me ma’am, you’ve dropped your life and I’m here to pick up your pieces.”  She remembered leaving work, the time was 8:14 pm and upon looking up from locking the door and leaving behind memories of a horrific day of ungrateful guests and screaming babies, she’d noticed the man from lunch hour standing under the street lamp outside the Whispering Eva Café. The night had fallen quickly, with only a sliver of the sun exposed. The shadows of the evening caressed the street with long greedy, dark fingers. A chilled breeze sprang up from nowhere momentarily feeling like an autumn afternoon and Valerie had found her arms covered in goose bumps. Early fall leaves swirled through a densely thick fog that started rolling in and got stuck a midst her loose auburn hair. Remarkably he was still smiling and had raised his hand in her direction. He looked like a black specter risen from the deathly fog. With a confused smile, she waved back and returned to locking the door unsuccessfully.

“Dammit,” she’d muttered and behind her in just the same smooth fashion he had presented himself with earlier, he said from behind her, “Are you having some trouble? Allow me.”

He’d reached his hand around her and she became rigid with fear and unknowing. He was very close to her, almost a hairs breath away from kissing the back of her neck and she’d felt his hand embrace hers. And then their hands turned slightly, feeling the click of the door lock. He’d removed his hand just as quickly as he had grabbed it. She faced the door still trying to catch her breath, still trying to understand and form some kind of thank you around her lips. Regaining composer with little ease, she’d turned around to find him nowhere in sight. Sweat had dotted her forehead and she’d become aware at how warm it had become. She’d laughed out loud at the absurdity of the situation and walked home through a remaining fogless night.

Looking back at that day, months ago, she realized that was the same day she’d broken up with Jack. Rushing to the bathroom toilet to vomit what she felt was surely her rotten insides trying to snake their way out of her mouth, she tried to recoil to a happier memory. The memory helped, a vision of her mother rubbing her back and expressing concern. She could almost feel the soft touch of her mother’s hand, always smelling of sweet scented creams, feeling the slow, rhythmic circles up and down her upper back as she continued to heave into the toilet.

When she turned seven her mother had fallen horribly ill and at the age of nine, her mother passed away leaving her alone in the world with nothing but a drunkard of a father with no job and no steady income.

“She went. Dead. W’rms prob’ eatin her body or sumthin’,” he’d said in a slurred drunken tone. He’d glared at the little girl before him that so constantly reminded him of his lost beloved. He’d raised the remaining bottle of Jack to his mouth again and a dribble spilled down his chin.

“Git to yur room, dammit! I dun wanna see any tears fer that slut. She left us, she left you! Left us to rot, the bitch!”

Valerie had flown to her room. Her pillow was her new solace now, her new warm hug at night. Now curled up, propped up against the bathtub squeezing that same dirty yellow stained pillow, she realized seeing her mother again was never going to happen. Especially with what she had agreed too. She was back on the walkway outside her work, laughing obnoxiously again, warmed by the night. She’d rubbed her neck, remembering the tickle of his breath like a lover might and she’d realized she had liked the sultry, sexy feel of his breath. It was unlike anything she had ever experienced, even with Jack. Jack. The fight was about nothing, as usual yet that time it felt like everything was different. She was different and it had showed.

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