Peering up from her small cubicle, Nora realized that Mr. Sullyvan had slammed a textbook size stack of papers on her desk.
“It almost seems as if we end up going through this every single day, wouldn’t you agree, Castro?” Mr. Sullyvan asked, smug at having caught her in the act.
Nora’s eye suddenly twitched in irritation at the sight of his dastardly expression.
“Ms. Castro, would you do me the honors of explaining what rule number thirteen in the employee handbook states or do I need to refresh your memory yet again?” he inquired with obvious satisfaction at having rattled her. Nora looked past him at the rule board on the far end wall, desperately trying to make sense of the chicken scratch that was written on it. Many of her peers shot her knowing looks filled with sympathy, while others were more amused at the fact that she never managed to learn her lesson.
Nora began to panic. Stuttering as she tried to come up with something that would sound remotely coherent, she then hesitated a brief moment before squeaking out a reply, “Thirty-six?”
Mr. Sullyvan’ jaw dropped open in disbelief, along with everyone else’s of those who were present in the office. The room had suddenly gone deathly quiet, so much so that a single pin drop could be heard. Many of her coworkers paused in the middle of their calls with dumbfounded looks, the sudden silence causing Nora to feel slightly intimidated.
Mr. Sullyvan was the first to finally close his mouth before opening it once more in horror, “Nora… In what universe is the answer to every question you’re asked to answer, thirty-six?”
Nora was unable to prevent the heat that slowly rose to her cheeks and she was sure of the fact that she was probably a shade of bright red at the moment. She couldn’t help but feel mortified of the fact that whenever she wasn’t paying attention and was suddenly hit with a question out of the blue, she always somehow ended up saying thirty-six. It was a habit she had acquired from her early highschool days. Nora never even had the chance to think of a different answer because unfortunately the number thirty-six would inadvertently blast out of her mouth before she could stop herself. Thus resulting in her current situation.
“Seriously? Again? Damn Nora,” someone exclaimed quietly from the seat next to her. Nora sank lower in her seat in shame, quite certain that her face was the equivalent to a tomato by now.
“I- you know what? Never mind,” was the only thing the appalled manager could manage to make out in response. Turning around, he muttered to himself under his breath before going about his business.
The moment the clock hit one, Nora fled the scene, scurrying off to the breakroom. By the time her food had heated up in the microwave, Nora couldn’t help but feel completely worn out. She trudged towards her usual table where a few of her friends were already seated and released a groan as she plopped down in a plastic chair.
“What’s up with her?” Nathan whispered to Diana. Nora complained incoherently into the crook of her arm.
“She was on the line with a customer for more than half an hour and got caught in space again,” Diana filled him in, chuckling quietly.
“How’d you know?” Nora lifted her head to peer at the blonde woman, genuinely bemused.
“I sit ten feet away from you dumbo,” she reminded Nora in equal parts exasperation and amusement, barely sparing her a glance before fixating her eyes back onto her phone screen.
Nathan grinned, “Speaking of which, don’t you girls ever get tired of seeing each other everyday? Not only do you three live together, but you even work together. I’d have been sick of seeing your faces within a week. And on a side note that’s not really any news. When is Nora not spacing out?” He pointed out, to which Nora huffed in indignation. Glowering in his direction, she reached out and snatched away some of his fries.
“Hey!” he exclaimed, in outrage.
“Should have known better than to sit next to me, Nathaniel. Is all that red hair dye finally getting to your head?” she teased, before popping another fry into her mouth as the rest of her friends joined them at the table.
“You’re the one who sat next to me! And how many times do I have to tell you not to call me that! Besides what does my hair have to do with anything?” he pouted as he unconsciously brushed some long strands away from his eyes, offended at her having insulted his obvious obsession with his hair. She glanced at his bright red hair, noticing it was perfectly styled, looking as though he’d recently had it retouched.
“If you know that I always steal your food, then why didn’t you move you idiot?” Nora shot back playfully, knowing he wasn’t really upset with her. He shrugged sheepishly and stayed where he was, “So did you get a demerit?”
“No, he didn’t do anything to me this time,” she answered truthfully, confused as to why she wasn’t either punished or reprimanded.
“Poor old man, he’s probably given up on you by now,” Robyn scolded her to which Nora finally noticed she was one of the last to arrive when she was usually the first one at the table.
“Where have you been?” Nora questioned out of curiosity.
“I had to go to the file room to look for some reports and those two idiots offered to help me out, but as per usual they ended up pulling a fast one on me,” Robyn grated out in irritation, glaring daggers at the two men sitting across from her. The muscular blue eyed male to the left being Elliot and the slightly taller male with tan features and black curly hair who sat on his right being Felix.
“Well, we did tell you we were leaving,” Elliot countered in their defense.
“Yeah, you said you were going to get some papers from the copy room,” she accused.
“To be fair, we never did say we were going to come back in the first place,” Felix scoffed. Nora smiled faintly at the playful bantering between her friends.
The rest of the day seemed to pass by quickly and before she knew it, she was already walking through the parking lot once again. The sun was out but the temperature remained cool and a few clouds graced the sky with their presence. Reaching into her coat, Nora retrieved her keys before opening her car door. She sat in the car for a few minutes and she checked her phone to see what time it was. It read 3.30pm, meaning she still had little over half an hour before she needed to pick Sam up from school. She decided to stop by the nearest convenience store to pick up a few things that she needed.
As she finished paying for the items she’d purchased, Nora checked the time again, and hurried to the car before driving to the elementary school. Parking her car near the entrance, she got out, spotting Sam standing at the base of the stairs, speaking to another girl around her age. Excitement coursed through her, as she had rarely ever seen Sam converse or interact with other children of her age group. Barely managing to calm herself down, she attempted to casually approach the two girls.
“I’d appreciate it if you kept your opinions to yourself. If you honestly have nothing good to say, then you can keep your mouth shut!” Nora’s lovely little sister snapped at the cowering child.
Nora’s step faltered in her stride and her face immediately fell in disappointment as she watched the poor kid who’d been verbally abused scurry away like a bat out of hell. Sam’s agitated gaze finally landed on Nora, her captivating cyan colored eyes a mirror reflection of Nora’s own.
“Did you really have to have to scare her away?” Nora snorted.
“You’re one to talk,” Sam scowled, “If someone randomly came up to you and began to mouth off nonstop, you probably would have cursed them out or worse. In fact you have,” she made sure to point out to Nora.
“Let’s just go home,” Nora grumbled, not even bothering to attempt to deny the accusation. This time Sam didn’t respond, instead she surprised her sister by grabbing her hand and leading the way. Sam had always been one to rarely show any affection so Nora was completely lost as to why she wanted to hold her hand now. She got into the car and looked at her through the rear view mirror. Sam held her gaze firmly and Nora finally understood what the eight year old was trying to accomplish. She must have seen Nora’s disappointment when she realized that Sam was in fact, not making a new friend. Nora smiled at her reassuringly, which prompted Sam to visibly relax .
For a very antisocial child, Sam happened to be rather perceptive for her age. Many found her presence to be somewhat intimidating because of the way she has always expressed herself, making her appear as if she could be several years older than her actual age. In conclusion, it could be said that Sam’s level of maturity was nearly on par with that of an adult’s. However in reality, Sam couldn’t really help being the way she is. Samantha was technically what some would consider to be a kid genius and being raised without parents, caused her to become a rather independent child. In any case, despite the fact that Sam was pretty much utterly inept when it came to socializing with others, Nora felt a surge of pride at having raised such a bright kid. Humming appreciatively, Nora started up the car once more.