Flash Fiction: Shoes and Notebooks

They’d lost her shoes. Lane ground her teeth as the exit clerk shrugged and told her that such things happened. She hadn’t grown much in the last two years, so at least the jean skirt, knit top, and leggings they’d managed to return fit fine. Lane vaguely remembered a sweater, but maybe they’d lost that too.

The clerk eyed the notebooks under Lane’s arm. Technically all school supplies the inmates used belonged to the delinquency center and couldn’t be brought out of the schoolhouse. How the girl had managed to sneak them all the way to exit processing was a mystery. The clerk shrugged, not feeling this particular battle, and handed Lane a large envelope.

The list of hostels and job-finding websites inside were all but useless, even if you could find your way to the city fifty miles away. Unless you had something waiting for you, with no money and no experience aside from a criminal record, no one was going to hire her.

Lane slipped filled notebooks into her returned backpack, shouldering the strap.  The system could keep her shoes and her sweater. The commissary notebooks were the only possession that mattered, she’d filled the pages with contacts, phone numbers, and plans. Those were hers.

Once outside, she paused. A few other kids had been released today. One was getting into a minivan. The other, like Lane, just stared down the parking lot. Fresh into official adulthood, not even the system was looking out for them anymore.

Lane took a breath and walked over to the other kid. He was tall, with pants that were too small and only went to the top of his ankles. He still held his envelope. “C’mon.” She said.

He frowned at her and looked at her bare feet.

“I don’t want to hitchhike alone.” She said. That must have been a good enough reason for him, because when she started walking, he followed.

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