The Hand You’re Dealt

by 

Author : Sierra Corsetti

Marie snuck a glance out of the corner of her eyes as the card dispenser beeped and dropped three slips of plastic-coated paper into her waiting hand. She dropped them into the front pocket of her leather overcoat and swished out of the pharmacy, merging into the early-morning foot traffic as she fingered the slick surface of the cards.

Though the cards had been legalized a decade ago, they were still treated as taboo, something that shouldn’t be discussed openly. Marie knew the fear of the unspoken truth was irrational, since everyone over the age of 13 bought their daily limit and used them. Even Marie herself was reluctant to discuss the life choice she has made unconsciously one day after school shortly after her 13th birthday.

Marie sidestepped through the throngs of people commuting to work, and ducked into a small coffee shop. She ordered her usual house brew, black with a touch of sugar, and sat down with the day’s newspaper. Hiding behind the inky newsprint, she slipped the cards out of her pocket to inspect them with a straight face.

No Free Lunch today, but the Unlimited Cab Fare could be handy, as well as the Free Hit. The I Haven’t Been Drinking Officer, I Swear was a shame since she only had need for those on the weekends. Marie decided the other two made up for it.

She downed the rest of her coffee and glanced at the clock. School would start in half an hour, but she could dally over the paper longer today. She had a free ride.

In second period, Alex McCann made fun of her for her dreadlocks. Marie fingered her Free Hit card, but decided that Alex McCann wasn’t worth it. An hour and a half later, someone ran into her in the hallway and made her drop her armful of books. Since the whole thing was an accident, Marie decided to hold on to the card for a little longer.

After school, Marie took a cab downtown and wandered the streets, window shopping until past dark. A man cornered her in an alley on 32nd street. Marie pulled out the card and smiled as she felt it turn into knife in her hand.

An hour later, she walked through her front door, mouth watering as she smelled the spaghetti sauce her mother was cooking for dinner.

“How was your day, honey?” her mother called from the kitchen.

Marie rubbed at the bloodstain on the sleeve of her coat and made a mental note to have it cleaned before school tomorrow.

“Great,” she replied.

 

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