Chapter I: Fifield's Gas and Convenience

Clover was restocking, putting away chips and soft drinks. The cold of the fridge hit them like a cloud, and they shivered. They were finally tall enough to not struggle when it came to reaching the highest shelves. They would go on to clean the counter, wipe down the soda fountain... but was it worth the discomfort? It had nothing to do with their parents, heavens no.

But when they would reach up to put away their given items, a stabbing, searing pain would shoot from within their lower gut all throughout their body. Occasionally it was bad enough to have them on the ground in agony. All it took was a stretch of the arm or leg too far, and there was the chance Clover would near seize with a stabbing ache in his stomach. When they told their parents they rushed them to the doctors right away. Clover barely listened to what the providers had to say. They could find nothing wrong however, not even a hormone disorder. The family was simply told to keep an eye on their child, and if any other symptoms occurred to return to the hospital.

But a new torturous pain was beginning to find its way into Clover's system, and soon they could ignore it no longer. It had started as a simple pain in the chest, but had grown to the point of feeling like a thousand bees were buzzing around inside their ribcage. They hadn't told their mothers the first time it happened, as it had only lasted a few hours and then disappeared. It was back now, much worse than before and around four days going. They would try to hold out as long as they could before saying anything, clutching their chest while saliva formed in their mouth.

It wasn't before being called into their mother's breakroom that they finally approached their parents, stumbling into the room with a pale face. It was a cluttered space- various papers, astronomy items taped to the wall, and an old fan that rattled as it rotated. Both of their moms were there, greeting them with a warm kindness. And concern. Halley was there too, a twinge of mischief shown in her star-like eyes. Always excited to see Clover, the small feline ran up to them, meowing, and circled around their legs like a centipede. Of course they didn't mind, despite almost being tripped. It brought a sense of calm.

"What's up champ? You alright?" Jake ran her hand through her hair, never breaking eye contact with Clover.

They hesitated before answering, not wanting to admit to the fact they couldn't do something as simple as stocking the store.

"My chest hurts."

"In what way?"

"I dunno. It feels like I got punched and the stinging never went away."

The second Winnie looked at them, they could tell she was about to go into a panic. Jake knew this too, and went to put a hand on her forearm.

"How long has this been going on Clover?" asked Winnie.

"Well, It happened last week. Then it stopped... Then it came back."

"And why didn't you say anything?"

"I dunno! I was trying to just ignore it."

Winnie and Jake looked at each other, clearly worried. Clover grew embarrassed then, feeling a shame about their body and all the pain it'd been causing them. Why wouldn't it just stop? Why couldn't they just stock the store? Why couldn't their body be simple? "Clover, you know you can tell us anything," Winnie said, "You don't have to hide anything from us. Especially if you're in pain." Now, a new type of embarrassment filled their chest. Why DID they feel the need to hide this from their mothers? They'd always been patient, supportive, kind... So why did they feel they had to hide it from them? "I just didn't wanna worry you I guess. I know how worried you get." This was a lie. In reality, the discomfort their body caused them was simply too much to bring up. "Clover," pressed Jake, "you don't have to hide anything from us. You're a very special kid, and if anything is wrong you have to tell us."

Special. Clover would always scoff when their parents said this. They never knew what their parents meant when they told them that.