It was hot.
Even with my black Ray Bans on I squinted against the sunlight as I walked to my red Civic.
"If I gave you gas money, would you give me ride home?" a voice asked to my right.
I turned just noticing a young girl with brown skin and beads of sweat clinging to her top lip.
"Where do you live?" I asked. Quick.
"Over by the Albertson's on Abbot," she paused. Her mouth stayed open ready to inhale my no.
I looked at her, she was only holding a gray binder, and nodded.
I pulled my head to left and said, "Come on."
She didn't hesitate and her steps fell into rhythm with mine as we walked to the car.
"It's so hot, you know? I'm from Vegas, but in the last few weeks I've gone from white to brown."
I clicked the car doors open.
"Don't mind the mess," I said grabbing wrinkled papers off the passenger seat.
"Oh, no worries," she said as she sat down, "I'm from Vegas. Land of fast food wrappers."
The car was hot and steamy. The closeness of this strange girl was suddenly very obvious, and I shifted the car into reverse quickly.
"It's so hot here, you know? I walked here earlier, and I just don't think I can make it back. So hot," she nodded with her whole body.
I turned to look at her but only saw my reflection in her silver plated aviators.
"Maybe you should try the bus?"
"In Vegas the buses fun every 15 minutes, you know? The whole city is 35 miles from end to end, like a perfect circle, and the buses run every 15 minutes day and night. Here? I beat the bus walkin' with my legs."
Led Zeppelin's Kashmir was muffled in the background by the blast of the car's air conditioner.
"Yeah, here you have to get used to a slower pace. I mean, Vegas is Vegas," I paused, "Why'd you move here?"
I switched lanes as she answered.
"I aged out of foster care. In Nevada the homes use foster care as a kind of charity to get money from the millionares. They'd like hold me up and say 'Oh, look at this poor girl. Give us money', but there's nothing to do in Vegas besides becoming a stripper, so I came here with my boyfriend."
"Is your boyfriend from here?"
"No, but his family is from Mexico, and he has family here, so we came."
I slowed to a stop as the light turned red.
"Foster care is crazy in Vegas, you know? The way I grew up is a crazy story though. My mom put me there because she decided she wasn't ready to be a mom, but before then we lived in El Salvador for five years," she laughed.
"Yeah, the mosquito's are crazy there. I mean, I think they're bad here, but man they eat you alive there. Salvadoreans are all lime and salt, so the mosquito's go crazy. When I was there with my mom she realized that there were beetles that liked to eat me too."
The blinker clicked in the background as I looked to me left and pulled the car forward.
"So, your mom is from El Salvador?"
"Yeah, and she's famous there. She walked here twice. When I'm there, they're like 'Your mom is legend. She walked twice and didn't die.' I never know what to say. I'm like, 'Yeah, well I'm from Vegas and I haven't done anything," she laughed again.
"So, the Albertson's on Abbot, right?" I shifted gears.
"Yeah, you can just drop me off there. You know, you're the first person I've been able to have a conversation with since I've been here. People just usually 'uhhu' and nod when I talk to them. I don't understand it. I mean, I'm asking about them and they just say, 'I don't know', how can you not know about yourself?"
I smiled and turned to look at her.
"Maybe it's because you're not from here?"
"Yeah maybe, but it's just nice to have a conversation."
"So, just here at the parking lot?" I pointed, my hand on the steering wheel.
"Yeah, I live in those red apartments right behind it, you know, just so you don't think I'm weird."
I pulled to a stop.
"Well it was nice to meet you..."
"Billie. Call me Billie."
"Nice to meet you, Billie."
She held her hand out, and I shook it. Her fingers cool against mine.
She shut the door against the heat, and I watched as she crossed the parking lot toward red brick apartments before pulling away.