The first day at a new school has never really mattered to me, people always say that new places bring new beginnings but I beg to differ. New school, new surroundings, new people but one thing that never changes is the staring. Eyes that peer into your soul, assessing every part of you, clinging to your pores making you break out into a cold sweat. I know that most of them are staring at me because I’m dark-skinned or simply put’ black’. Some of the stares may be friendly, some cold, some nonchalant but one thing that remains steadfast is how it unnerves me. I’ve never been one for crowds but I’m good at hiding it. ″ Office, office, office, come on where is it″ I chant to myself.
I finally spot it and relief pierces through me. “Excuse me ma’am my name is Naiah Augustus and this is my sister .....” I turn around to indicate Carla but she is nowhere to be found. I release a breath of frustration, I grab my schedule and books, thank the receptionist and take to the hallway .” Two minutes” I mutter under my breath with a scowl ” Two minutes on school grounds and she is already gone, that must be a new record, where ....” I’m cut off mid-sentence as I spot her.
She is in the middle of a group. The sun streaming through the window catches her dark brown hair making it lighter as it bounces around, her face is lit up and her porcelain white skin glitters, as she smiles the dimple in her cheek appears, her light silver eyes glittering with humor and a hint of mischievousness but as she spots me the expression is wiped off her face. “Come on Carla, we have to go. ” I glance around the people beside her. ” But the bell hasn’t even rung ” she replies with a tiny frown on her face. My arrival has completely removed her previous joyous expression, with Carla its always been like that, and I’ve never been able to figure out what I did wrong. Apparently, I’m not the only person who has noticed the fact that she is trying to decapitate me with her glare.
" Yeah! ” A jock agrees ” We’ve got at least 10 minutes left .Who are you anyway? ” he sneers at me. They are all snobby and have an air of meanness about them but if Carla likes them I might have to tolerate them since they might become her future friends. ″Alright, I guess we can spend a few more minutes but...″ I’m cut off as I look up and see that she isn’t even listening, none of them are. All of them are too caught up in their own bubble as they continue chatting and completely ignoring me. I have to admit that it stung but I just let it go.
I’m just standing there waiting aimlessly when suddenly what they are saying interests me. I watch and listen as an animated brunet narrates a funny story of her older brother. It’s a bit mean and I totally feel sad for the poor guy but that doesn’t make it any less funny. By now I’m so caught up in the story that I didn’t even notice that people were staring at me. What brought that fact to my attention when the brunette suddenly said ″ Hey guys, can we move a bit to the side since we don’t need outsiders interfering with our private matters.″ At that, everyone glanced at me and moved as far as possible as the hall would allow them. It was as if I had a plague that would affect them. After giving me looks of disgust they all continued with their conversation leaving me feeling hollow and unwanted. I let this go too for it has always been a norm wherever I went.
I had already decided not to let any of it bother me but what stung the most was that Carla never said anything. She chose people she met a couple of minutes ago over me. Even though we weren’t biological sisters I’d do anything for her. I just swallowed my bitterness and let it go too. I just rolled my eyes to conceal my sadness and decided to wait for a few minutes so they can finish.
The longer I stood there the more I realized that they had no interest in stopping ,they slowly continued talking with no care in the world whatsoever. Time was slowly ticking and the staring was getting more intense. Before it was just tiny glimpses but now people were stopping in the middle of the hallway and blatantly staring. I knew that my color was unusual even for a black American since my skin tone was that of dark chocolate but I was slowly getting overwhelmed. For once I decide to be bold instead of cowering away.
“That’s a wonderful story” I interrupt the blond cheerleader mid-sentence ” Since you all love my sister so much that you aren’t willing to let her go after meeting her literally 7 minutes ago.“I deadpan. I turn towards the jock that sneered at me earlier ” Then you can go get her new schedule, fill in all her forms, get her assigned books, lead her to class and finally get to your own class, thankyou.” I give him a fake smile and begin walking to my class. Spinning on my heal a couple of feet away ” Oh, I just remembered you only have 3 minutes before the bell rings.” Then I go on my merry way. I wasn’t one to blow my fuse so easily but lately, my patience with Carla was getting thin. I was trying hard but deep in my heart, it was getting hard to forgive her. I decide to deal with it later since I have arrived at my history class.
I step into the classroom and all eyes are on me, I shrug off the stares and keep walking. I am about half-way to a seat in the back when a deep, soft voice rings out. ″Good morning class″ The students murmur out some kind of greeting. I am about to continue to my seat when the teacher calls out for me. ″Miss Augustus, would you care to introduce yourself before you have a seat.″ I’m still having an adrenaline rush from my confrontation earlier so I spin around and walk to the front of the classroom. Giving everybody a polite smile I reply. ″My name is Naiah, I just transferred from St.Mary’s Girls school to appear here,″ I said gesturing to the classroom. ″Yeah, we can see that″ A boy in the back retorted. Some of the students chuckled. Before I get a chance to continue he lowly adds .″ I would have thought you came from some jungle in Africa.″ At this now everybody bursts out laughing. My confidence slips at that and I lose my psyche to continue.
I turned to the teacher who by now is scowling,″ I think I’m done.″ I say as I beseeched him with my eyes, I really just want to sit down at this point. Embarrassment and shame were now curling in my stomach and the staring was starting making me anxious.
″ Jason you will see me today after school for detention.″ The teacher barks at him. The teacher then smiled at me gently and nodded. I immediately take off finding my way to my seat , standing there just gave them more power over me. I don’t even bother with the rest of my introduction.No need to give the students more facts to make fun of me with. From my timetable I learned that the teacher’s name was Mr. Harris, I committed his name to memory. For once I had a good feeling about someone.
Soon the classes ended and Carla and I headed home.″So how was your day today? We barely saw each other because of our busy schedules.″I asked. She ignored me. Our relationship has always been rocky but I always try anyway, wish I just knew what I did to her to make her feel that way. I’m pretty sure if I had a dollar for the number of times I’ve asked myself that question in my life, I’d be a billionaire. The whole journey home is filled with silence. She immediately went to her room once I opened the door. I heaved a tired breath. ″What’s wrong?″ My dad who was on the phone asked as he watched Carla stomp to her room. I just shrugged. ″Anyway...” He ignored the elephant that was always in the room which is the tension between his two daughters. “Jess is on the phone.″
A smile immediately blossoms on my lips as I run to the phone.″Hey Jess.″
″Hey yourself Darlin″ Her Texan drawl immediately soothed my soul.
″Oh, how I missed the sound of your voice″ I swooned like a fangirl. I just sometimes wished I could talk to Carla the way I talked to Jess. Life would be easier that way. I let out a breath at that thought. If I didn’t find a way to fix our relationship, it would continue to eat me alive. My guilt for snapping at her friends in school didn’t help either. Wait! what was I doing before this?
″Hello?″ Jess asked ″ Is anyone on the phone or I’m I talking to air here″
″Sorry Jess, what were you saying.″ Remorseful for spacing out on her.
″You sound stressed Darlin, tell mama what’s wrong″ She sympathetically said. She still referred to me as her child even after I left the foster home and found a family. ″Its okay mama″ I said. ″Somethings are better handled with patience″ I said looking towards Carla’s room. It had taken her so long to find me family. “So what is the occasion″ I said changing the subject. ″What, someone needs an occasion to call their favorite child″ She sassed me. I chuckled as I imagined her standing in the kitchen, hand on her hip as she gave me a piece of her mind. I smiled fondly. ″Ryan! Don’t do that!″ She suddenly yelled. A tired breath followed after.
″ Darlin, sorry but I have to go,″ I could hear her frustration. ″Its okay mama, I know the kids can be a handful.” She muttered something under her breath in response and I laughed. Jess was an old Texan woman who was as sweet as a pie but the sailer’s mouth she had on her could put a gangster to shame. It was probably better that I hadn’t heard what she said.″ Maybe you should come and help out with the kids a couple of days.″ She slyly suggested. I laughed replying ″I don’t think so, I’ve already served my due time,″ She laughed as well but something about it was off.
″ Besides.....″ The line suddenly went dead. I stood there shocked for a minute as the realization that she had cut the phone call sunk into my mind. Eventually, I just assumed a kid had fell the phone which cut me off, then started on dinner.
″ Carla can you please come down for dinner ″ Dad yelled. When Carla finally came downstairs, I had already served dinner. Dad then gave us our allowances for the month. It wasn’t much since we weren’t that well off but it was enough for me. Carla looked at the money in disdain then snatched and strutted out of the house. I smiled reassuringly at dad and gave him a comforting hug knowing from experience how Carla could get to someone. We then sat down and ate. Carla always pretended to hate my cooking but I knew that when she finally came home she would eat it. I therefore always left a plate for her.
I had decided to get out of the house for a bit to be able to get some fresh air and explore the town. Damn it was hot. I heard it a lot that Arizona is hot but you had to be here to know what they mean. I knew I was a little chubby but my sweat knew no bounds as it flowed like water. I saw a coffee shop up ahead and thought I should stop for a drink to cool down and relax or in my case chillax. At the corner of my eye, I suddenly spotted an ally that I probably missed earlier while lamenting about sweating profusely.
In the corner, well tucked in, I spotted a big dusty glass window. Walking towards it I peeked. Inside was a well-equipped gym with a boxing ring in the middle. Through the glass I spotted a couple of men in fighting stances. I just stood watching as the men fought, I was completely hypnotised. I was yanked back to reality when someone asked me or more like spitted out. “Hey lady what do you want?″ I stopped and looked around as I realized I was in the gym. Oh shit! I thought panicky. When did I even get in here? I asked myself puzzled.
Now that I was inside I noticed that the gym looked like it had seen better days. The paint was peeling off the counter and a large bulky man stood behind it. He was looking at me impatiently and before he could bark at me again I saw a flyer behind him that said ‘HIRING CLEANERS’.An idea popped into my head.
″ I’m here for the job,″ I said smoothly since I couldn’t explain to the guy I had just found myself here. The guy gave me a once over before he smirked at me. ″Your a little late for that sweetheart, the boss just hired someone 10 minutes ago but perhaps I can find some other job for you″ He finished suggestively. ″I don’t really need you to find me a job ″I said quickly as I took a step back away from the counter. I smiled uncomfortably under his leering gaze while I steadily backed away. ″ Why not sugar?″
Great, just great. The first person who doesn’t comment on my color or appearance wants to eat me for lunch.
He slowly got out from behind the desk as he stalked towards me. He stared at my lips and hungrily licked his own. At that, a shiver of disgust ran through my spine. I glanced at the exit but it was all the way on the other side and it also didn’t help that he was blocking my way. ″ I need to be away from you″ I blurted, my filter usually broke when I am nervous and it’s like I can’t control my mouth afterward. His jaw clenched in anger, I had clearly annoyed him but I couldn’t help it he was too revolting for me not to say anything.
Suddenly a voice broke through the tension. ″ Can I help you miss.″ It was more of a statement than a question and it was delivered by a gruff voice. ″ I’m here for the job ″I said and pointed toward the poster on the wall.
“I’ve already hired someone” he replied harshly and started walking away leaving me with the creepy man. I made a split-second decision, the grumpy old man was definitely better than the one undressing me with his eyes “Maybe, but I going to offer you a deal you can’t refuse” I replied. “I’ve already told you l....” He started. “And I already heard” I retorted cutting him off, he clearly didn’t know how far I was willing to go to get away from that man.
" How about we take this conversation to your office,” I said smiling. He sighed with a look of resignation and I knew I had him.″ I just need a little bit of your time.″ By then that creepy man should probably be gone, till then I could make something up with the grumpy one.“You’ve got five minutes” he coldly declares. I smile knowing that is just how much I need.
It was the tone of his voice that had me rethinking my idea to go with him instead of the creepy one but I decided against it after re-evaluation. He was definitely better.” That’s all I need.” I reply as I take a deep breath while going over my speech quickly in my mind. As I do this he slowly makes his way to the chair behind the desk. I’m still not sure exactly what I’m doing but it couldn’t hurt to try and actually get the job, I have a lot of stuff that I need and I can’t always ask dad for the money.
So with this thought, I put on my game face and begin.” So I’m guessing that you pay around $20 per day for cleaning this place” I casually look around spotting the tough to clean spots as I await his answer.” $10 per hour” he responds gruffly. This encourages me and I continue ” It takes about 3 or 4 hours to clean the entire gym which means approximately $40 per day. I’m guessing that this place is cleaned about 2 times a week. That means per month you part with $320 give or take” I raise my eyebrow waiting for confirmation.
" What does that have to do with anything ” he questions testily.” Cool your growl old man and answer the question.” I say giving him a hard glare as well as trying to buy time to think of what to say. “Yes,” he replies curtly with a scowl. I sigh frustrated with his short answer. Time is slowly ticking and 5 minutes pass with silence, I’m now panicking since he looks like he is about to stand up and walk out and that is when something hits me.“So what I am proposing is I clean the gym and you pay me $160 per month.“I smile inwardly proud of my plan. ” No.” He simply says and gets up. He is about to walk away from me. I grab his hand and stop him. ” Are you seriously turning me down?” I asked incredulously. ″ I’m practically offering you half the fee and you are turning me down to pay some chick who can barely clean″ I say pointing to the dust bunnies I spotted earlier.
His lips parted to give me a smile. “You a feisty one and you have guts.” He commented. “But that’s not enough, give me one good reason why I should give you the job″ I scoffed . ″ Give you a reason? I should give you a reason why I’m good enough to clean your gym?“I laughed sarcastically.″Yes, I want you to prove to me you are worth getting the job″ I walked to him and got in his face ″I don’t need to prove to you anything but I will for my own amusement ″ I retorted furiously. I then grabbed a broom lying around in the corner, got rid of all the dust bunnies and cobwebs lying around then dropped it all on his desk. ″ There’s your proof.″
He grinned at me wickedly. ” Prepare yourself buttercup coz by the time I’ll be done with you. You’d have wished you walked out when I gave you the chance” I froze confused. ” Your training starts tomorrow.”
″Wait, What!″ I gapped at him bewildered and he just rolled his eyes at me “You’re giving me the job” I said dismissing my confusion and trying to compose myself. ” No, I’m giving you a trial.” He just smirked as he turned to walk out. “Be here by 16:00 tomorrow.” I smiled to myself as I saw myself out. I had a feeling I had just signed my death contract but my joy overrid all other emotions. I finally made it to the coffee shop then went to re-explore the town.
I finally made it home around 21:00. I was about to go to my room to get some shut-eye when dad called me. I walked up to him and waited for him to bring up the topic of discussion. “So how was the town, do you like it? Anything interesting happened.″ Monotonously bordering on boredom I replied. ” It was great but no nothing interesting at all” I lied through my teeth. I don’t really know why I didn’t tell him about my job but something deep in my gut said I shouldn’t. It seemed like he lost interest after that so I bid him goodnight and left.
″What a crazy long day! At least it’s over″ I just sat there recalling the day’s event when something suddenly hit me. I had been so sassy and stubborn today. I don’t even know what I was thinking, the grumpy man could have kicked me out of his gym yet I didn’t even hesitate to come at him. It seemed like I had been bi-polar today, it’s like all my reserved nature flew out the window and I... I kinda liked it. I smiled giddily as I got into bed I couldn’t help but feel more was about to come. I just wish I had known that my new found confidence was going to get me into trouble.
Thank you for reading the first chapter of lost. Hopefully you’ll continue on the journey with me.
Naiah is pronounced as Na..Ya.