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You're A Steal

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As per the norm, Daniel Smith is bored again. His heavy eyelids droop closed for what must be the hundredth time today, his chin lazily resting on the palm of his hand as he leans on the counter-top, where the till lives. It has been, without a doubt, another Saturday well wasted in this lifeless old shop on the street corner.

It wasn't exactly his choice to be here; taking the offer for the job from his elderly neighbour who owns it was an awful idea, but when he had mentioned it briefly to his mum, she had forced him to take it, threatening to go and tell the man herself. As a result of the job, Dan hardly has a social life any more (well- if he really had one before), thanks to the job! All he ever says is sorry, I'm working, working. Work. Work! He hardly even gets time for himself, apart from the hours of which he is asleep.

What sort of seventeen-year-old wants to spend the entirety of their weekend, and every other weekday after college, in a shop? It goes far beyond boring. Hardly anyone ever comes in unless they either need the essentials- bread, milk, gas, electric and so on- or they need alcohol (which could be argued as an essential). Legally, Dan isn't allowed to serve or sell alcohol because of his age, but nobody ever checks. Anyone who comes in never cares, of course. God knows how the place has lasted so long.

 

As he does most nights, Kyle Simmons has itchy fingers. The constant need for the satisfaction of taking something again is far too mighty to ignore, and although he doesn't want to let the urge suffocate his body, he knows it eventually will, anyway. He hates it. He despises the need and the voice that controls his every movement. A nasty habit that the boy can't seem to kick, one that has been with him for longer than he'd like to admit but short enough so he doesn't really know how to combat it.

He's fully aware it's driving him down a road that he isn't really that keen on going down, but he just can't help it.

The corner shop on the corner of Hudswell Avenue in North London seems to be pretty empty, which calls out to Kyle straight away as a potentially easy target, and the voice in his head agrees. The teenager tries his very best not to listen to the things the voice says, but it's not like he can put some headphones on and block it out. 

He digs his nails into his palms to try and distract himself from the thoughts, but it doesn't work. The need to steal is so strong and he can't rid himself of the desire that is so hungrily eating away at him.

"You're an idiot. A massive fucking idiot." He tells himself, pulling the sleeves of his hoodie- slightly too large- over his hands, and his hood up to defend himself from the late September winds that battle the country. He casually saunters into the shop and looks around.

The cashier, who looks roughly Kyle's own age, looks bored out of his mind, as if he would rather be anywhere else but here. He looks up at Kyle, strands of thick, dark hair waving as he moves. He smiles warmly at Kyle and Kyle does the usual you alright? smile back at him. Then, he disappears behind am ailse to look at an array of items laid out in front of him, calling his name like a siren.

Kyle doesn't do this out of want, need, or desire for the items that he steals. Nor does he do it because I can, or because it gives me a thrill. He does it because he has to. He can financially afford it, because, for one, the most expensive thing he has stolen has been a bracelet- although that was worth more than a few months pocket money-, it's because of his impulse to do it. He hates doing it, but it's too powerful for him to overcome by himself.

Kyle grabs an array of things that nobody really needs. A couple of lighters, one of those tiny pints of milk that he shoves deep into his hoodie pocket, putting his wallet against it so it doesn't look weird, a handful of paperclips and rubbers.

Then, as if he's done nothing at all, he strolls over to the fridge where the shop keeps their drinks bottles and cans, away from the milk, and grabs a two-litre bottle of 7UP, before strolling back over to the till and digging into his pocket to get the £2 coin out.

"Is this all?" The boy at the till asks, a little more lively than he was before. Not trusting his own voice, Kyle can only grunt in response and nod. "Do you need a bag?" 

"N-no, thanks," he murmurs, handing him the coin and receiving his luxurious change of 75 pence. The till closes with a crunch. "Should be alright." 

The cashier looks down at Kyle's hands, one of which is wrapped around the bottle and the other resting on the counter. They're shaking like crazy and Kyle worries he knows something is wrong.

"Is it cold out? It looks it," he states, nodding to Kyle's hands and then looking out of the window. Kyle wishes his hands were shaking from the cold, but it's the fear and adrenaline.

"Yeah," he lies- not about the temperature because fuck, it's cold, but about his hands, "Can't be expecting too much of England in September though, can we?" 

The other boy laughs, nodding. "True. 'Supposed to pour it down all week from Monday," he sighs and shakes his head, "Luckily I'm stuck in here all the time so I miss most of it. Well, I say luckily but... Not really." 

Kyle shrugs and wonders why the cashier is speaking so much to him, but then he guesses if he's here all day, he probably laps up all conversation he can get.

"That's England for you. Anyway, I might see you sometime in the week." 

"Well, I'm the only bugger who's ever here- apart from Mr Woody, the guy who owns the store. He only comes in when I'm at college, though." Kyle vaguely remembers seeing the owner of the shop whilst he was playing football once and accidentally kicked the ball right at his grandson's head, which, whilst the kid actually laughed about it and was fine, his grandpa swore his permanent ban from the shop. "My name is Dan, by the way."

Why the fuck am I making friends with the cashier of the store I just stole from? Fucks sake, Kyle, don't say your actual nam-

"Kyle."

The voice in his head curses him to oblivion. He tries to ignore it.

"Hopefully see you soon," 

Dan smiles, "Yeah. Hopefully." 

 

Kyle sprints home as fast as his legs can possibly take him, his mind crippled with this awful anxiety about getting caught. It smothers him every time he does it, though it never dissuades the voice from telling him to do it. If only the cashier- Dan?- knew... 

As soon as he reaches the familiar threshold of his home, he rushes straight upstairs and throws the drink onto his bed to be forgotten about and shamefully pulls the stolen goods out of his pockets. There isn't much there and the total sum doesn't add up to much at all, but if he was caught... God, it scares the daylight out of Kyle.

There's a voice in my head that tells me to do it- but I'm not crazy, I promise.

No one would ever believe him. He would sound like a liar, just like his aunt on his dad's side told him when she caught him stealing when he was just twelve. He never really got on with her after that.

He observes the random stuff and frowns at them, before bundling it nervously up and throwing them into the locked box under his desk, where homework is scattered. The milk, however, is thrown on the bed. Of all things, one pint of milk. One?

Slowly, he picks the milk up and closely inspects it. What on Earth can he do with just one pint of milk?

An idea pops into Kyle's head which makes him feel somewhat like a thieving genius- not that it's anything to aspire to. He goes to walk out of the room, but before he leaves, he pauses and taps on the wall five times, counting under his breath as he does so, certain to get the number right. 

I hate this. I hate this. I hate this. I hate this. I just want to get on with my evening.

 

Stood downstairs in the kitchen, Kyle attempts to pour the one pint of milk into the remaining two pints left over from a four-pint carton. He stands, concentrating on it so he doesn't spill any.

"Kyle?" 

The sound of his mum's voice makes him jump, and he drops the remainder of the milk, which clatters to the floor and spills into a large, white puddle. She appears in the doorway, curious of the sudden noise.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you!" She says quickly, then looks down at the milk on the floor, "What were you doing with the milk?"

"I just... I just dropped it, that's all," he says, his voice shaking. He fears she will hear the nerves in his voice. "I'm really sorry. I'll clean it up."

"Was it the pint that your Grandma sent up?" She questions. Kyle looks down to the shelf in the fridge and sees another carton of milk there.

Christ, they look like they are a family of hardcore milk-drinkers.

"Yeah, it was. I'm sorry." He glances to his mum and quickly screws the lid onto the milk carton, which is now full, and he puts it in the fridge, next to the milk his Grandma sent up. She has a habit of sending up the food and drink she doesn't think she'll use.

Mrs Simmons leaves the room for a moment and Kyle takes the short freedom he has to quickly screw the lid off of Grandma's milk and quickly drink the entire thing, chugging it until it is all gone. He throws both cartons- the stolen milk and the milk he's just drunk- into the bin before his mum comes back, holding some paper towels.

You're digging yourself a hole, Kyle.

 

"Here, let me clean it up," 

"It's alright, Kyle. It goes out of date tomorrow, anyway. Here," his mum hands him the towels, and glances up at his face. "And stop drinking out of the bloody milk carton!" 

Kyle sheepishly, or rather nervously, laughs, then begins to wipe down the mess he has made.

 

The clock hits eleven in the evening and as they do every night, the Simmons' household all retire to bed for the night. Kyle has already brushed his teeth and stripped himself down to his boxers, and he stands by the bathroom door, right next to the light switch.

Please let me go to bed. I'm so tired.

 

If you do go to bed, you won't have a family when you wake up, Kyle. 

The voice tells him, bitterly.

Do it.

Kyle sighs, his eyelids feeling like lead and his own mind stressing him beyond words. He flicks the light switch off, sending the room into darkness.

"One." 

He says, focusing on the numbers.

The room is bought back to life with light. "Two."

Darkness.

"Three."

Light. 

"Fo-"

"KYLE!" His dad roars, making the boy jump, "Stop playing with the damn lights and go to bed!" 

Kyle groans, closing his eyes. "Dad! Just... Just five minutes!" 

"One."

Again.

"Two."

"Kyle! You're going to break the light bulb, stop messing about!" He demands from the master bedroom.

"Dad, the sooner you let me get it done, the sooner I'll stop. Please, just let me do it." Kyle basically pleads, starting again. "One. Two. Thre-" 

"KYLE!" Mr Simmons yells, making Kyle lose his temper. He slams his fist into the wall again and again until he slinks down the wall, bringing his needs to his chest and feeling like he's going to cry. "What the Hell is wrong with you?"

His dad appears by his door.

"Dad," he begs, almost choking on his own breath, "Please, let me just do it. Just don't talk about it, don't ask what I'm doing, just don't get involved. Please." 

"What's going on?" He asks, "Can I he-" 

"No, the only way you can help is by letting me get on with it. Please." 

Hurry up and do it, Kyle.

"No, the only way you can help is by letting me get on with it. Please." Do it. Hurry up and do it. 

Mr Simmons looks concerned, "Kyle... I only want to help you. You do this every night... Y-your hand is bleeding." 

Kyle wipes his face on his arm. "I'm fine. Just go and let me get on with it, please..." 

Mr Simmons disappears again, and Kyle squeezes his eyes shut, reaching up to the light switch, and pressing it. "One." 

"Two."

"Three." 

"Four."

"Five." 

He keeps his hand, shaking, over the light switch for a second. You messed it up. Do it again.

Kyle throws his head back, groaning. Please let me go to bed. Please. I'm tired.

That doesn't matter. Do it.

He presses the light switch once again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and many more times until the voice finally allows him to go to bed.

Hurt and bloody hand forgotten, Kyle lies on his bed in the dark, sniffling.

Why the fuck does it have to be me?