Chapter 12 || Pretty Please, With A Cherry On Top Of Me.
The parking lot was almost completely occupied which made it hard for me to find a decent parking spot. A Range Rover here, a Beetle there. Sometimes I really regret choosing to work in a Michael Kors store in a mall which is five times the size of our house.
I actually love the job because the people I work with are like a second family. Plus, I can escape certain events like that weird dinner with my future step-mom, although I won’t work long enough to miss all of it.
The biggest problem are the customers who often cause make me want to punch a whole into the wall. These people have more money than Donald Trump has mental illnesses and, trust me, they let you know every damn second of your life.
One time, there was a cliché rich old lady with her Chihuahua called ‘Chi Chi’, I know, they may have money but creativity is definitely not of their area of expertise. Anyway, I tried to talk to her but ended up calling my boss so that he could serve her because and I quote: ’Please, honey, get out of my sight. Chi Chi and I just had our spa weekend and I can’t stand poor people right now because they depress me. My Chakra-Ayurveda Guru Dominico said that this is poison for my skin and messes up my Chakras.”
I swear this is exactly what she said and, believe me, you’ll never forget an incident like this. Definitely, not one of my best encounters but what can I say, there are always occupational hazards you have to take into account.
Another thing these pretentious people have in common besides their money, is their residence in Cherry Blossom, a part of our town you are only capable of entering with a Platinum American Express Card.
Its name derives from the huge amount of cherry trees that were planted along the alleys, streets and around the whole area, but were lumbered ten years ago to convert it into a Beverly Hills 2.0. We used to spend a lot of time there back when it was still the old Cherry Blossom because of the gigantic green areas which were perfect to play hide and seek.
I never returned to that place except for one time when I was invited to Jayla’s birthday who obviously lives there too and I assure you that these mansions looked like castles. I really didn’t want go and she initially hadn’t planned to invite anyway, but Alex convinced her and I just showed up to do him a favor. Today, I’d just laugh in his face, turn on my heels and leave.
After a good ten minutes of searching finally found a parking spot, at least I thought I did. I was about to maneuver my car into the free spot when I suddenly hit the brakes to see that it was already occupied by a SMART.
God, how I hate these cars...
I decided to give up and just park a few walking minutes away from the mall in order to prevent further incidents like this.
Entering the store, I could already see my co-worker Dafina, we just call her Duffy most of the time, with whom I work today’s shift together but hers started an hour earlier. She didn’t look like she was really fond of working today but to be fair, neither did I.
“Hey, Duffy.“, I greeted her, passing the cash desk to get into the staff room.
“Hey.“, she nodded her head indifferently.
I quickly changed my outfit from my casual clothes to a black blouse and jeans, my working clothes. Before I made my way back out, I checked my phone to see that I got a new message from my sister.
Emma: You can run away, but you can’t hide...
A smile spread on my face and I let out a chuckle when I read her message. I guess that dramatic half-threat refers to the lovely dinner tonight we all are already really excited about. Note the sarcasm.
Me: Don’t worry. You just need to bear them one hour by yourself. I will get out of here as soon as I can.
As much as I love my sister, I will try to waste as much time as possible so that I won’t have to put up with them.
I think I do have an idea.
Looking on the clock on my phone, I saw that I still have five more minutes until my shift begins. I opened my contacts, scrolling down until I reached Jana’s name and dialed her number.
Please, pick up. Please pick up...
“Jessica ?“, Jana’s voice sounded through the phone. Yes !
“Uhm, hi.“, I uttered quietly, not knowing what to say. I should have thought about a lie before calling her. That would have made it much easier...
“I thought you were at work ?”
“I am.“, I confirmed. “But I-uh need your help. I have a math test next week and I don’t understand anything. I really need your help and I thought that you could tutor me a bit ?”
“But didn’t you have tutoring today with one of that college students from America’s Future ?“, she questioned me.
Damn. Okay, Jessica, think of a logical and reasonable explanation.
“Yeah, well, that is true. But I didn’t really understand anything because she isn’t that good at explaining. How about tonight after my shift ? It ends at 6 p.m., so we could meet half an hour later at my house ?“, I suggested her, hoping she would agree to that.
“Alright. I think I can arrange that. Where do you live ?”
I gave her my address, finding out that she didn’t live that far away from me. “Sorry, again for calling you at such short notice.”
“Hey, you helped me to create my future and now I will help you to create yours.“, she let out a laugh.
God, this girl is such a sweetheart.
“Okay, thank you so much.“, we said goodbye to each other and hung up.
I put my phone into my back and strutted through the corridor back into the sales area, where Duffy was already waiting for me behind the cash desk.
“Hey, girl. Why so depressed ?“, I leaned against the desk, looking at her expectantly.
Normally, we aren’t allowed to do that because it looked unprofessional and it was but there was nobody in store.
“I’m just in a bad mood. My family from Albania and Kosovo decided to visit us in two days and my mom has been freaking out ever since. ‘Dafina, you need to clean your room’ ‘Dafina, you need to dress better when your family arrives’ ‘Dafina, the groceri shopping isn’t going to be done by itself’ ’Dafina, hajde bone. Ç‘ka po pret’.”
“What does that mean ?“, I laughed at her imitation of her angry mother.
“It means something like ‘Come on, do it. What are you waiting for’.“, she explained, seemingly annoyed. “Believe me when my mom yells at me in Albanian, I mentally plan my funeral, just in case. My father is completely chill but my mom turns into a Kosovarian monster.”
“I feel you, honestly, I have a dinner tonight with my dad’s new girlfriend and her son. At least, you have seen your family more than once because I know that this is going to the most awkward dinner ever.“, I told her.
“Right, the Fake Brit is your step-brother to be. I totally forgot.“, she grinned at me maliciously.
“Don’t call him like that because it makes him sound like a celebrity and I try to suppress the fact that everybody obviously knows him.”
“I actually don’t. Well, I know that he exists but I have never seen him before. It’s more his reputation that I have come across with several times. My cousin who I hate with every fiber of my body, tried to get into the America’s Future program because her mom tricked her into thinking that she was something special and very intelligent. Allegedly, she met him a couple of times and bragged about it, so he is some kind of celebrity, at least in the higher circles of America.“, she explained as she sorted the money in the cash register.
“Great. Apparently, It doesn’t suffice that I have to deal with Jayla and her snob retinue, now I have an almost step-brother who is also like that. I mean, I knew he some kind of belonged to the elite of America with his successful step-mom and everything but I didn’t know it was that bad.“, I groaned and put my head on the desk.
“Speaking of which.“, Duffy said and pointed to the entrance of the store, revealing Jayla and two of her friends with Chanel bags in her hands, making their way towards us.
Duffy knows everything about the whole thing with Jayla and Alex since we already know each other for a while, even before we started working together in here. Duffy was one of the first people I told and somehow was my only real friend since Sofía and Kyle, although we never really had the chance to meet that often until we started working together. She also attends my school and we met each other in the detention room three years ago.
Classy, I know.
“Don’t worry. I’ll handle it. Our codeword is “Unicorn”, so that you can stop me from strangling her if I can’t take her atrocious appearance anymore.“, she whispered causing me to smirk.
I’m really thankful right now that I don’t have to put up with her more than necessary. Dafina strutted over to Jayla and her Bratzillas, greeting them with a fake smile and sowing them around the store.
The feel of relief abruptly vanished when I saw them turning around approaching the cash desk. I heavily sighed, mentally preparing for my encounter with the Bratzillaz.
“Hello, Jessica.“, Jayla greeted me with the uncomfortable tone in her voice that I definitely haven’t missed over these years.
“Jayla, hi.“, I returned the greeting. “How are you ?”
I actually couldn’t care less but I can’t allow myself to be rude to her because Alex would hate me to the moon and back.
“Fine as always. I just need a little something to prepare myself for the huge gala.“, she replied, holding up some black high heels and put them on the desk.
I scanned the price tag and the price appeared on a little green bar in front of me. “Only $200 ? Wow, I didn’t know that you were on a saving trip.“, I remarked sarcastically.
“Well, my mom gave me a budget I have to stick to and my gorgeous Chanel dress already costed me $4,000. Since I’m such a humble and modest soul I couldn’t really double-cross my mom like this.“, she flipped her black straightened hair over her shoulder.
“By the way.“, she stopped. “You are coming to the gala, right ? I asked Alex to invite you as well as your friends.”
“See, this is the part I don’t get.“, I looked at her sceptically. “Why would you invite us ? Let’s be honest we haven’t really seen each other in past years.”
Taking a bag from under the desk, I put her shoes and the bill in it and handed it to her. “A friend of Alex is a friend of mine.“, she smiled at me, but her eyes told another story.
Her comment made me freeze for a moment and I looked over to Duffy who wore the same bewildered expression on her face than I did.
Jayla took her bag and turned on her heels, walking towards the door. Halfway through she turned around, looking at me intensely. “Plus, I always love to give underprivileged people the chance to let them think they can play in a league that is way out of their cosmos. Charity has always been important to me.” a devious grin spread on her face and pranced out of the store.
Dafina had already formed her hand into a fist, ready to give that hideous Bratzilla something she’ll never forget but I held her back since we both couldn’t afford to lose our job.
This is something I have to endure on my own...