Chapter 3: Complaints
Time just flew because we found ourselves again standing in front of Ania’s place. An inner peace takes me over, and in an odd way, I realize that Ania’s plan, whatever that was, had worked. I felt somehow better, waiting for an answer. I wasn’t hanging on some hopes, for I didn’t like having big expectations from people, so I remained at the nice dream state.
We stop at the corner shop to buy something to eat. A big box of ice cream draws my attention, and even if Ania tells me that’s not good, I insist on buying it at any cost. When she sees she’s losing the battle, she puts it into the shopping cart. A woman passes by us and hits the cart. She apologizes and moves forward.
We get out of the store and open the building’s door. I step on the stairs leading to what’s going to be my new home for a while. The apartment’s door creaks in a disturbing way when Ania pushes it.
“Weird”, she mumbles.
I sit in the armchair and I sigh with sound, remembering that I can’t stay that hidden as I wish, because I have a job and food doesn’t grow on trees, neither the bills which I’m going to split with Ania from now on. She makes me the couch in the living room, then she heads to her room. Soon, the tiredness says its word and, even if it’s daytime, I fall asleep quickly.
An artificial light disturbs my rest.
“Come on. We’re late for work.”
“What time is it?”
“A little bit past three.”
“I slept only three hours?”
“You mean one day and three hours…”
The sleeping mood disappeared quickly. I grabbed the clothes from Ania’s hands and I ran into the shower. She had been shopping that day, but I didn’t hear the door. I was that tired. She bought me what I needed for my personal hygiene.
Even if it looked like it was going to rain, we decided to walk to work. It was ten minutes away from Ania’s place. When we walked into the bar, Andreea welcomed me with a mean look on her face. Perhaps she was still mad at me since the incident between us from two days before. I wasn’t in the mood for her behavior, so I decided not to talk to her. I put on my apron and began the work.
I wasn’t really fine, but I was doing my job like a little robot. The tips left by some drunk customers didn’t excite me anymore, and the mean comments didn’t affect me at all. My eyes were stuck on the front door as if I was waiting for Daniel to barge inside and continue what he started. I didn’t get any of that on that evening.
When the last customer left, I sat on a chair at the bar.
“Well? How are you?” asks Ania from the other side of the bar.
“I had better days.”
She puts in front of me a bottle of liquor and two glasses.
“Let’s just forget for a second that we work here. Let’s think that we found the door opened and we entered and now we can drink whatever we want.”
“Jim will not be too excited about this”, I laugh.
“Jim won’t find out. I’ll cover it all.”
Her idea was great actually because the next two hours passed really fast.
“So, what’s with that book you’re working at?”
“I didn’t get the chance to tell you, but it’s gone since Daniel sold my laptop.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. You know you can work on mine whenever you want.”
“It’s ok. I’m not in the mood of making that dream come true anymore. I have other things on my mind now.”
“I would have wanted to know the details about your life”, she says.
“I can tell you on our way home. It’s not a big deal, anyway. A sad story. I didn’t have an ending for it. You know… about how I was moved from home to home, how I changed families, how ones were treating me worse than the others. How I decided to run at the age of seventeen and how I changed jobs. And how I finally got here. After a lot of nights when I slept in the train stations and days of wandering around, I have finally found a purpose here. I’m lucky that Jin took me in, even if he had no clue about my story.”
“I don’t know, but I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. Everything happens for a reason. At least this is what I believe because if I wouldn’t I would probably be too demoralized. Honestly, you’re the first person I attached to in all this time.”
“You inspired my trust and I see that I wasn’t wrong.”
“Of course not.”
I threw the glasses into the sink and I grabbed my purse. Ania followed me.
“You tell me about it?” she laughs.
We walked home slowly, supporting each other’s arm. When we arrived in front of the block of flats, we saw the front door was open. It took us a couple of minutes to get to the second floor. Ania dropped the keys and we both started laughing hard. But our laughs disappear the moment we realize the door’s not unlocking. Ania decides to try the door handle, and we notice that it’s unlocked.
“Do you remember if we locked the door when we left?” she asks me waking up from the dizziness.
“Honestly, I don’t remember anything right now.”
“I don’t forget to lock the door. It’s like a habit, a reflex to me.”
We stepped inside unsecured and we turned the lights on.
“Hello! It’s anyone here?” asks Ania.
“Do you really think that if there were someone, he would respond saying: Yeah, it’s just me, the thief! I’m waiting right here for you?”
Ania bursts into laughter, but she comes quickly to her senses and locks the door.
“It’s nothing moved around here. I think they would have taken the TV, the laptop, the microwave… you know.”
I look at her suspiciously.
“This if they came here to take something”, I tell her.
“Oh, God! What if they put something in here?”
“Ania, today they don’t put microphones to spy on you anymore. The phones and all the electronics from our lives do the job for them. I was talking about something else. Drugs maybe? It would be a thing if the police show up now.”
“I believe that you’re thinking too far… But let’s take a look around.”
I rolled my eyes and we started searching around.
“And what are we looking for, exactly?”
“I don’t know! Something weird. Something that is not in its place.”
“This time I believe that you’re the paranoiac one. Maybe you just left the door unlocked.”
Ania overturns the stuff from the table in her rush. The search continues for the next hour, but we can’t find anything missing or weird. Finally, she gives up and throws on the bed.
“I’m going to sleep!” she says and hits the door with her leg.
I remained sitting in the corner of the sofa, trying to put together the thing that had happened during the day. I think about every face that I saw at the bar, trying to see if someone had a stalker face, but my eyes close slowly and I fall asleep with a lot of unanswered questions on my mind.
The dawn’s light finds me on the couch. I turn on the other side to continue sleeping, but I forget that the couch is not Daniel’s bed, so I wake up on the floor. I hear a laugh and I rise my ruffled head. Ania was standing in the door, laughing hard. I respond her by making a face, then I rush to the bathroom.
After ten minutes, I get out ready to go.
“You’re a woman?” she asks me surprised.
“Am I supposed to prove you somehow?” I ask her rising my eyebrow.
“You’re ready too fast.”
I roll my eyes and I grab my bag.
“I’m going to sort things out with my identity card. See you later.”
“Be careful. Don’t forget to… ah. I was about to say call me, but I forgot that you don’t like phones. See you when you get back.”
I respond her with a soft smile, then I close the door. The road to the institution is full of concerns and I’m looking over the shoulder every minute. Nothing weird so far. I open the heavy and ancient door, and I see a long queue. “What a country”, I mumble kicking my leg. After thirty minutes of waiting, the door in front of me opens. I happily step forward to enter, but a lady pushes me back.
“Lunchtime. Come back in thirty minutes”, she says and passes by me.
Before I can say my complaints, the woman disappears on another door. It’s like things are making me angrier in this country and this confirms me that I’m right again. I decide not to leave because there was already a long queue behind me. I sigh and I lean on the door.
After about forty minutes, the woman shows up again.
“You can come inside now”.
“Finally”, I grumble unpleased by the offered services.
I sit comfortably on the broken chair, thinking about what I could have done if that thing would break under my butt.
“I lost my identity card.”
“Your name, please.”
“Ok. Complete this form.”
I start writing on the piece of paper that the woman gave to me, pulling the pen, which was bound up to the table, trying to write legibly. After a few seconds, the woman gives me a strange look.
“Tell me your name again.”
I roll my eyes, ready to say something about her incompetence, but I manage to keep myself together.
“CARA V-A-N-D-I-S. V- from Violet, A- from an asshole, N- from nuts, D- from delinquent, I- from incompetent…”
“That’s all. You don’t need to be sarcastic. And I don’t know who is incompetent in this situation, as long as you don’t even know your own name.”
“There’s no one named Cara Vandis in the database. This person doesn’t exist.”
“But this is impossible! My identity card was on this name! It must be a mistake!”
“Miss, there is no mistake. Are you sure you haven’t missed a letter?”
“Ma’am, please check again!”
The lady makes a face and looks again into the computer.
“Nothing. I suggest you come back when you find your name.”
“I want to make a complaint! This is not possible!”
“Here’s the complaint notebook”, she says throwing a rag in front of me. “Now please step outside because people who probably know their names are waiting in the line!”
I get up angry and I slam the door. I go to the next window, where I ask to write a complaint. The man over there gives me a piece of paper and he asks me to complete it. My hands are sweating on the pen, but I write everything that’s needed.
“And now?” I ask.
“Now you wait for someone to call you. Here you need to write your phone number.”
I remain blocked for a minute, then I write Ania’s number. The man grabs the paper and throws it on a big pile of paper.
“How long it’s going to take this?”
“Miss, just look how many demands are here to solve. Maybe two or three weeks if you’re lucky.”
“I don’t really know this word”, I grumble and I turn my back on him.
I get out of there unpleased, mumbling and swearing. I think about stopping and buying some coffee, but I remember I’m not in a very good place with the money, and I prefer to drink it with Ania, so I head straight home.
With every step I take, everything begins to make sense. Why would someone steal my bag with the acts that night? Now the incident with the identity card. A shiver makes me stop in front of the staircase. My eyes are wet and I realize that my situation can be a lot worse than I imagined. I ran on the stairs and get inside, where I find Ania making coffee. Thought to thought… but only this time it’s not such a pleasure.
“Something bad is happening!” I shout shivering.
“I went to solve the problem, but they didn’t find anyone with my name in the database!”
“What? That’s impossible.”
“This means I don’t exist!”
“I don’t understand, Cara. It must be a mistake. They are fools.”
“Ania, it doesn’t matter how incompetent they are, the system doesn’t make mistakes! Someone is making me disappear! And now I realize why someone stole my acts that night!”
“Because they want to kill me! And if they want not to have trouble, they need to erase me first!”
My voice shivers with my hands that are shaking badly. Ania takes me by them.
I sit on the chair and I try to breathe to calm down.
“I’m calling Michelle. Maybe she found out something.”
But Michelle doesn’t answer. Ania looks at me disappointed.
“What’s happening, Cara?”
“I don’t know! I didn’t do anything wrong! Maybe I stole some food when I used to run from the orphanage, but I don’t think I did something that had to be killed for! To be punished like this!”
“Cara, when did you notice something was wrong?”
I think for a second and I realize that everything started when I arrived in this town when I tried to find my parents for the first time.
“When I arrived here and I got the dumb idea to look for my parents. But I didn’t do much, I just went to institutes, police, and I asked if there was a chance of finding them. I was told that it usually takes a couple of days and it wouldn’t have been a problem, but then I was rejected and they told me that there’s no information about my parents. I did some tests, I bribed them to put me in front at a medical center, but they didn’t call me back.”
“Oh, this is all?” she says ironically.
“No. Then I went back, angry because I paid them for nothing, but the woman who took the test wasn’t working there anymore, and when I tried to find out what happened with my tests, they told me that they were lost.”
“Yeah. Now I see that the situation is much more complicated than I thought.”
“So, from what I understand, someone doesn’t want you to find out who your parents are. But the question is: Why?”
“I don’t know, but now I am more determined to find out!”
“I will help you. I will insist on Michelle.”
Ania walks around the room, while she’s calling Michelle. Finally, she decides to call her office. At the phone from her office picks up a guy.
“Who’s this?” she asks putting the phone on speaker.
“Well, I think I am the one asking this”, says the voice.
“I’m Michelle’s friend. I want to speak to her.”
“Michelle didn’t show up for work today. She called in sick. Tomorrow she will probably come. Who am I talking to?”
Ania throws the phone on the bed.
“Hello? Hello?” we hear from under the pillows.
I grab the phone and hang up. I look at Ania lost.
“Do you think it’s bad? Do you have to call back?”
“To tell them that Michelle could be in trouble?”
“Cara, Michelle’s a cop. I don’t think she wouldn’t handle if there was any bad situation.”
“Do you have any idea where she lives?”
“No. Don’t be crazy. We’re not going to her place. Be patient. Tomorrow I will go and see her. You will cover for me a few hours at the bar and I will go and talk to her.”
“Oh”, I grumble. “What are our plans today?”
“I have an idea.”
I listen to Ania rising my eyebrow.
“We’re going to the bar for the first time as usual customers. It’s going to be fun.”
“As long as you promise me Andreea won’t spit into my food”, I laugh.
Ania starts laughing and takes a sip from her coffee.
“Let’s see what clothes fit on you. We’re going to hit the jackpot tonight!”
“Oh, yeah! I’m sure of it!” I laugh.
From all the clothes Ania puts on the bed, it draws my attention a blue dress. I see a spark in Ania’s eyes.
“I knew that you will love it!”
When I put it on me, I see a totally different Cara.
“Wow! Where have you kept this sexy woman all this time?” she asks excitedly.
“Oh, shut up! Isn’t it too short?”
“No! Now, let’s see the shoes.”
She starts searching the closet, throwing away all sort of ugly things. Finally, she finds size thirty-seven. Some black shoes, with the heel not very tall and thick.
“They don’t fit me anymore. You can keep them.”
She puts a black dress, a red pair of sandals, a red purse, and she throws me another black purse. It’s small, but I don’t have things to put in it. She takes the phone and calls for a cab.
“God! You look gorgeous!” she says more fascinated than me.
“Ania, it’s still me. The only difference is that I’m wearing a dress!” I say laughing. “I don’t really like dressing elegantly. I had two dresses as well, but I don’t want to go back to Daniel’s place to take them. I will buy other things with time.”
“You better put elegant things on that list too because they fit you!”
When she finishes with the compliments, the taxi stops in front of us.
“You locked the door. I made sure”, I tell her.
“Good”, she says.
We arrive at Jin’s, and when we walk inside all the eyes are on us. Of course, Andreea’s shocked look too.
“Girls, you don’t look bad at all”, she says passing by.
Ania looks strange at her, then she turns around at me.
“What’s up with this one? Did she hit her head?”
“I don’t know, but it seems that she has a nice face too.”
We sit at the corner table and order a bottle of wine and two spaghetti bowls. Our laughs caught all the eyes, but we were feeling too good to hear the mean comments.