So many cans. I’m sick of this job. But this isn’t for me so it’ll have to do. Just put the cans away and move on Mal. A shadow appears over my right shoulder. It is the all too familiar shadow of a customer with a question. I turn to look over my shoulder and meet a woman’s face.
"Um, excuse me. Can you help me find the cake mix?" she asks.
“Ah, yeah. It’s two isles down, top shelf.” I smile and point.
“Ok thank you uh-” The lady stops and points at me, “What’s your name?”
I roll my eyes and reply, “Mal.” Knowing from experience the next thing to leave the lady’s mouth is will be…
“Oh. Thank you Mal. You know that’s a nice name is it short for something?” She questions.
I think about just yelling at her but, no. I need this job so I reply, “Yeah. My name is Malice. But I prefer Mal.”
The lady looks at me with a puzzled look. But then telling how she nods and quickly turns away, she figured out that I wasn’t joking. Yes my name is Malice, like in darkness and evil. I absolutely hate my name because in a way it has been true. But regardless of how much I hate my name I return to work. Unloading boxes, stocking shelves, helping annoying customers. My shift ends relatively quick and I head to the hell hole I call home.
I live on the third floor of a shabby, disheveled apartment complex on the “bad” side of town. In my opinion the whole town is a trainwreck but whatever. Cracked steps lead up to the lobby. There is no elevator, just stairs that are covered in a thick layer of grime and broken banisters. The walls of the entire building are stained and crumbling. I get to my apartment. I unlock the door and go in. It’s a three room apartment, if you could even call it that. One bedroom, one bathroom, and a living room/kitchen. Everything is ancient and decaying. And there is always the occasional mouse that runs through. I plop down onto the couch with a sigh. The bedroom door opens. My brother pops out, buttoning a white shirt and slipping on black shoes.
“Mal? You’re home already? I got some pizza for you it’s in the fridge.” he said with a smile, “It’s your favorite.”
“Thank you Chance. But I keep telling you not to worry about me. You have to save your money and study.”
“I know that Mal, but you still need to eat. And plus my grades are just fine. Oh and by the way I’m off to work see you later.” Chance runs out the door.
This kid. He needs to quit his job. I told him I can take care of everything. Chance, my youngest brother. He’s only 15 and he is working part-time as a waiter at a nearby diner. I’ve told him a million times not to get the job. But as he explained it, “You can’t just replace mom, you are only 4 years older than me. If I’m going to stay here, I am going to help you!” Chance came to live with me when our mother died six months ago.
I’ve been on my own since I was Chance’s age. More or less because mom hated me. I hate her too, it's a long story. But it is what it is.
I walk over to the fridge and pull out a slice of pizza from the box and sit back down on the couch. I pull out my phone and text Chance, “Bro, I’m not going anywhere tonight. Don’t stay out too late after work. And thanks again for the pizza”. Honestly he is such a good kid, I feel bad for him that a fuck up like me is the only one providing for him. He deserves better.
Ding! I check my phone. It’s Chance, “Ok I’ll be home right after work. Again,no problem Mal enjoy the pizza. Get some rest.” Again this kid is so selfless. But he’s right I have work in the morning any rest will help. I huddle on the couch and drift off to sleep.