If I ever get out of this shit hole…
If was a word void of promise, though full of possibility if not plausibility. If was a world of obstacles Lilah struggled to believe she could weave around, climb over or plough through. If was this limiting, confining little bubble people never seemed to be able to escape. If was the empty promise she made herself to get out as soon as the stars aligned, fearing they never would.
Born and raised here, Lilah figured she would be stuck here, married off to a local boy if she were lucky and have 2.5 kids, then grow old and die here. Probably be buried right in the old Redfern Cemetery. She was fucked if she didn’t get out.
She called this place East Bumfuck. A lot of people loved it here. Most people referred to it by its given name, Redfern. There was some story about how it got its name from the local Indian tribe – there were a lot of Indian place names around this area –but Lilah never paid attention. Many residents considered life in Redfern to be “the way life should be” and all that Mainer pride bullshit.
All Lilah knew was if she didn’t get out of this skeeve box in the middle of nowhere as soon as possible, you might as well call the time and sign the death certificate now, doc, because she was as good as dead if she stayed here.
Redfern was situated about ten miles north of the city of Old Town where Lilah was a sophomore at Helen K. Holbrook Community High School, “lovingly” nicknamed Hell Hole High. If you blinked, you’d miss it. Redfern spanned only about a five mile stretch along the main highway parallel to the Penobscot River.
From the main road, a couple of back roads branched off. Lilah lived on Oak Hill, which turned to gravel after about eight miles, becoming part of the system of logging and camp roads. The paper company, which closed down its Old Town mill two years ago, still maintained the roads and worked the forest for mills farther up north.
Lilah worked at The Last Stop Market, the little jerk-off store just a ways down from her house. They sold everything a shaggy middle-aged redneck headed out to the woods might need–shiners, fishing tackle, bug dope, gas, ammo. They had the cheapest selection of 30-pack watered-down skunk piss in town and no brand ultra cheapo ciggybutts (AKA Marlboro’s floor scrapings).
Lilah came to know which customers always bought rolling papers and munchies. Pork rinds and old Mrs. Cote’s famous homemade whoopee pies were the most popular.
Every day, the same glassy-eyed customer joked, “You been makin’ whoopee again, Fran?”
She blushed and waved him off.
It was a good part-time job though. About ten hours a week during the school year. Lilah couldn’t legally run the register or work the deli equipment because of her age but sometimes she did anyway when it was super busy. She mostly stocked shelves and coolers, sorted returnables, and cleaned.
She enjoyed the job for the most part, other than being hit on by a much too old regular patron now and then. The owners were nice. They had offered her more hours over the summer but her mother pitched a fit. So just like last summer, Lilah would be stuck at home doing slave labor instead–vacuuming, doing dishes, laundry and whatnot so her mother could sit on her ass and watch her daytime ‘stories’.
Maybe she could find more time to write her book if she could get her chores done early. A little more cash would be nice, but working a few more hours at the Last Stop sure wasn’t going to get Lilah out of East Bumfuck.