The cameras were flashing repeatedly as the model came down the runway, dressed in a beautiful gown that captured the crowd of fellow designers and celebrities. The young designer beamed proudly as many reached out to touch her arms and shoulders, giving it a celebratory shake as they called out their congratulations. Ava Caldwell had been deemed Designer of the Year, and now she was able to witness her collection in action. All the hard work and frustrations had become completely worth it as she was able to see it come to life before her very eyes. The neat seams, the flow of the fabric, mixed with the model walking effortlessly in the high heels, brought it all together.
Everything was perfect, as perfect as it could be in that moment.
“HEY LADY, ARE YOU GOING TO CROSS OR WHAT?!”
The cameras vanished, the runway and people disappeared and Ava Caldwell found herself being honked at by an impatient taxi driver, who was nearly halfway out of the window of his vehicle. She blinked several times and glanced around, quickly noting that she had been given the signal to cross at the crosswalk. She had begun daydreaming while holding down the button, holding up traffic, which was definitely taboo in New York City.
“Sorry!” She said holding her hand up to cab driver before running across the busy intersection. Several cars honked their horns at her, causing her to jump as she attempted to get to the sidewalk. “I said I was sorry!”
The traffic of the city held no mercy for the college student as they honked at her until she reached the sidewalk, where plenty of other people were looking at her. Her face turned a beet red as she looked down at her shoes and continued on down the sidewalk. Adjusting her bag over her shoulder, she tried to make it down the way as quickly as possible to avoid any more stares.
Once again, her daydreams had gotten the best of the fashion student as she tried to look ahead to what the potential future could be. Even if her dream was meant to be, she was still a great distance from it as she was nowhere near being designer of the year. Especially after her instructor had basically ripped her designs apart during the most recent class. He had been sure to point out all the flaws, rather than focusing on at least one positive. But Ava was pretty sure that he didn’t see any positives when it came to her work.
It seemed highly unfair, the world of fashion was not just set one way. There were all sorts of different styles and cultural aspects that went into someone’s work, but her instructor didn’t pick up on any of that. According to him, Ava didn’t have a sense of style. She knew her way around a sewing machine, able to put together beautiful seams, but he never seemed to understand what she was trying to portray in her clothing.
Often her sketches and designs became the ridicule of the class, making Ava question whether she had a place in the fashion world, to begin with. But the woman reminded herself countless times that plenty of people who were currently successful had faced rejection plenty of times.
From J.K Rowling having Harry Potter rejected twelve times from publishers to Shakira being banned from her school choir for sounding like a goat, it was those scenarios that drove Ava forward in life, even if it didn’t seem so fair.
If those women were able to find success after long roads of rejection and people saying they weren’t good enough, Ava was certain that she would find her own success one day. The rejection would just make the success taste all that much sweeter when it was achieved.
Reaching her apartment building, Ava struggled with her keys to pull out the small mailbox key to retrieve her mail. After neglecting to check the box for a couple of days, she knew she had to eventually open it. She was certain that her bills had been delivered on time, they always seemed to find her, unlike the care packages that her mother continued to promise that she would send.
“Ha!” The woman called out triumphantly as she pulled out the small key. “Got you, little jerk.”
She unlocked her box and much to her delight, saw a package shoved inside.
Whenever Ava managed to actually get her mother on the phone, the woman promised that she would send a care package from home. But Ava had been attending the school for over two years and had yet to receive any mail from her mother. She pretended as though it didn’t bother, made up all sorts of excuses in her head like claiming that her mother was busy. The truth was that Ava’s mother had just given up on life in Ava’s opinion.
Since her father was killed during the Iraq War, the Caldwell family had crumbled. She had learned that her father had been assisting displaced Iraqi civilians when he had been caught up in a bombing raid. Leaving him and plenty of other soldiers present to lose their lives, including the other innocent lives.
Devastated to lose her father as well as her best friend, Ava grieved, however, she kept the promise to her father to continue to pursue her dreams. Perhaps that’s what fueled the woman not to give up, no matter how harsh her instructor’s words were. She didn’t want to disappoint her father by giving up, never once did he give up.
She missed him greatly, but even with his absence, he continued to push her forward. Ava couldn’t say the same for her mother.
The death had taken a drastic toll on the woman, who had been a happy mother and owner of a bookstore called “Chapter One” that she ran outside of the city. Ava worked there during the weekends, but when her mother began to neglect her responsibilities there, Ava had to take it upon herself to keep the business running. She hired a couple of college students to tend to the store and once the responsibilities were off of her mother’s shoulders, the woman took off.
Going through boyfriends by the week, she was all over the place. Ava suspected that her mother was dabbling in the world of the drugs, but she couldn’t confirm anything as her mother was never around for her daughter to see. Since starting her time at school, Ava hadn’t seen her mother, leaving her to feel quite alone in the city.
The care package seemed to be the first step at mending things between the mother and daughter as Ava saw it as her mother actually trying.
Curious as to what her mother sent in the care package, Ava flipped the package over and noted the handwriting bringing a frown to the woman’s face. The handwriting that had written Ava’s name and address across the front, did not belong to her mother. Already discouraged, Ava collected the rest of her mail before slamming the mailbox closed and making her way upstairs to her apartment.
Climbing the steps, she passed the other tenants of the building, including Bonnie the Dog Walker and the pack of dogs that she never seemed to have a handle of, as they dragged the woman along. Ava muttered a quick greeting before continuing on her way, sorting through the envelopes of apparent junk mail.
“Male enhancement pill trials?” She read the front of one envelope before glancing down at her body and snorting. “No thanks. I don’t have penis envy, Mr. Freud.”
She reached her apartment door as she came upon her electric bill, something she was not looking forward to at all. With a small frown, she pulled out her apartment key and began jiggling it into the lock, she wiggled it to the left and then to the right before jerking it up to finally get the lock to open.
With a final click, the doorknob turned allowing her inside only to be greeted by an odd smell.
“What in fresh hell is that?”
Dropping the mail and package onto the small couch in her tiny living room, Ava crossed the room and entered the kitchen, only for the smell to become stronger.
“Sweet mercy,” she said placing her hand over her nose and mouth as her gaze fell onto the trash can in the corner. Taking a deep breath, Ava held it as she rushed out and pulled out the trash bag to take out to the garbage chute of the building. Unable to hold it for a long period of time, she hurried as fast as she could, tying the top off and running outside of her apartment. As soon as the biohazard had vanished down the chute, she exhaled and proceeded to gasp for air. However, the smell of the stinky garbage lingered in the hall, causing her to gag a bit.
As soon as she reentered her apartment, the search began for the can of air freshener, which she quickly found in her bedroom. She returned to the kitchen and living room area, dousing the apartment in the floral smelling spray.
Once the smell of death vanished, Ava walked over to her couch and plopped down with a huff. She rested her head back for a moment, closing her eyes, taking a quiet moment for herself, which was highly needed after the day she was experiencing. But the idea of the package resting so close to her piqued her curiosity as she opened up one eye and glanced over at it. Sitting up, she reached over and grabbed the package, setting it in her lap.
She ripped open one end and poured out the contents to have a separate envelope fall out, along with a dusty book. The book caused a small cloud of dust to rise as soon as it hit her lap, causing her to fan her hand in front of her nose. She picked up the envelope first looking over the front of it as it was addressed to her with no return name or address on it. Nor was there one on the package either.
Tearing it open, she pulled out the piece of paper and unfolded it.
“Wow,” she muttered at the sight of parchment paper that unraveled in her hands. No one had ever written her a letter upon parchment paper, leaving her even more curious. Her eyes scanned over the letter, trying to make out as much as possible as the handwriting was quite sloppy, making it difficult for her to read. However, from what she could make out, Ava already found herself in a state of confusion.
If she was correct, the letter claimed that due to a recent death in her family, the family inheritance was hers to take.
“Inheritance?” She repeated to herself. A sense of relief washed over her in the sense that she would be coming across some money, which meant plenty of stress would be taken off of her. There was also a brief mentioning of her able to learn of her family history, which left her wanting to learn. However, she had no idea as to what side of the family the letter was originating from. She assumed it had to be from her father’s side but if no one was able to get in contact with her mother, she was the next in line for contact.
“Well, let’s see, where are we going then?” She asked out loud as she scanned over the letter further. She was straining her eyes so much to read that in such a short amount of time she had given herself a headache.
Finally, Ava picked up on what sounded like a place and typed it into her smartphone, only to have her eyes widened.
“Germany? I thought we were Scottish and Irish…no one ever said anything about German. Hmm…maybe that’s why I got along so well with that exchange student from Germany back in high school. Or was he from Russia….goodness, my memory is failing me and I’m only twenty-three. I’m pretty sure he was German…or was he from the Ukraine…”
Trying not to become too frustrated over her failing memory, Ava set the letter aside for the time being and lifted up the book in her hands. The pages were so frail looking that she was afraid to open the book for the most part. She didn’t want to break it or rip any of the pages. Carefully, she parted the pages from one another and glanced down at what was written but it all seemed foreign to her. From the numbers to what was written beside in some language, she found herself even more confused than when she was reading the letter.
“Dammit,” she muttered setting the book aside gently. The thought of traveling to Germany sounded exciting, however, the expense was causing all the hesitation. She had managed to save up some money but it was meant for emergencies. However, with the promise of an inheritance hanging over her head, it seemed mighty appealing to travel across the world.
If she was coming into money, she didn’t really have to worry about wasting her money, depending on how much she was getting, it would probably do more than even out.
With a couple of new book releases falling upon the bookstore in the next couple of weeks, it would be bringing in some extra money, so even if the trip turned out to be a complete bust, she wouldn’t have to run herself ragged, trying to save up again. It was tempting yet nerve-wracking, she wasn’t aware that she had family out in Germany. Of course, now she didn’t because the one who had left the inheritance was dead, her parents had never mentioned another family member outside of the states.
She was sure she had some distant family relatives in Ireland and Scotland, but not ones that they were in regular touch or in touch with at all. Picking up the letter once more, she wondered if it was a scam, one that she had read countless times in her email as people claimed she was the beneficiary, she just had to hand over her bank account information over.
Although, as she scanned over the letter a couple of times, there was no mentioning of needing any information, however, scribbled at the bottom was a phone number for her to call. Reaching for her cell phone, she decided to get to the bottom of it once and for all. As she dialed the number and raised the phone up to her ear, Ava had neglected the idea of different time zones, until the third ring echoed.
“Oh, shi-” It was half past four that afternoon, trailing into the evening, which put Germany at least past ten o’clock at night. She was just about to hang up and wait until the next morning, however, as she lowered the phone the call picked up.
There was silence on the other end but someone was listening as she glanced down at her screen. She cleared her throat as she lifted the phone back up to her ear.
“Uh…hello? Sprechen Sie Englisch?”