The sun sets on Southgate Boulevard and the bookshop across from the convenience store. People are coming to the bookshop for deals—the shop is going out of business. Everything is forty to eighty percent off. The convenience store has brought out bags of candy corn. Two bags for three dollars.
But now the day’s ending, and the sun has mostly given up to streetlights, lit-up storefront signs, meandering cars, and whatever starlight can pierce through. People standing at bus stops have their hands in their pockets. Some stare at the convenience store, which has windows that serve as the brightest lights on the whole street. Brighter than the moon.
A big man with a big mustache leans on a big concrete pillar outside of the convenience store, holding a small pink bike between his legs. His hands are on the handlebars that have glitter streamers coming out from the sides. He is in his work clothes—dirt on his shoes and on the bottom of his slacks, a company logo embroidered on the right side of his chest. He looks tired.
Across the street, the bookshop has its last customer before they close for the night. A man buys a novel for half the price it has printed on the back cover. The man wanted this book for a while, but the price drop finally pushed him all the way to the counter. The owner of the store happily rings the customer up, wishing him a good night, even though he has yet to find another job to sustain himself after the store closes for good.
There is a little girl inside the convenience store, buying a tall can of iced tea and a candy bar with a couple of crumpled dollar bills and some change. She is seven cents short, but the woman at the cash register doesn’t mention it.
The little girl trots out of the convenience store and grins at the man with the bike, holding her treats with her hands stretched out towards him. The man smiles back, takes both from her, and puts them in his back pocket. Relinquishing the bike, the man says that she can have her candy bar when they get home.
To the girl, the unfolding ride is an uncharted journey across the sea in a pink boat with glitter sails. She is the pirate captain, and her father is her first mate, keeping watch over the treasure.