Meg Sefton’s work has appeared in Best New Writing, The Dos Passos Review, Danse Macabre, Dark Sky Magazine, Emprise Review, and other publications. She received her MFA from Seattle Pacific University and lives in Orlando, Florida.
Just before Julie’s morning break, the security monitor flashed on a girl with black hair and kohl lined eyes. Julie zoomed in on her to get a better look. The customer stood at the ladies’ jewelry counter, perusing a turnstile of watches. She then summoned Rosemary to unlock the clear plastic case. A few minutes later, she slipped a watch into her jacket pocket.
Julie was just about to alert her undercover shopper when the girl stopped and looked up at the camera. It was Chloe. Behind the dark hair and goth makeup was the face of Julie’s own child. Julie stroked the monitor with her fingers. Chloe hadn’t been home in a long time.
As if in response to Julie’s touch, Chloe shot her the bird. She then stormed off to the womens’ hosiery department. She slid the watch into a ladies’ pantyhose sleeve, holding it up so her mother could see what she was doing.
“Do you want me to go down there and handle it?” This was Julie’s boyfriend, having watched the events from the security room. He had been a witness to many such mother-daughter scenes, but nothing was ever stolen. Things were merely rearranged.
“Leave it,” she said.
The divorce had created a new child, someone Julie didn’t recognize. To make matters worse, Bob rarely called, and when he spent time with Chloe, it was to let her know her mother was a whore.
By the time Julie arrived on the floor, Chloe had gone. She tipped the watch out of the sleeve and held it in her hand until it was warm. It was deceptively heavy.