“Mam...” they said softly tapping me on the shoulder from behind.
An older woman who looked to be in her sixties I couldn’t help but notice her graying chestnut hair and her thick framed glasses ever so slightly sliding down her nose as she peered back at me. She nervously smiled.
“The library closes in about...” she trailed off as she checked her watch. I sighed and immediately wished I hadn’t. For some reason I felt like she was struggling. Her eyes strained and she looked like she had forgotten how to tell time and she was ashamed.
“Oh. Miss...” she said begging to get upset. “I...I. I’m so sorry. I...I... I... Uh... the Library is closing soon and I was just trying to tell you what time it is but I can’t remember how.” she continued confused.
“Mam, you did nothing wrong.” I said getting up and pushing my chair.
“Look,” I said as soon as I realized she was truly upset from the tears welling her eyes. “It happens. Neither of us are perfect.”
“But... I’m old sweet heart.” She said looking up at me, tears welling in her eyes. Fear, confusion mixed with overall anxiety.
“Look, young or old we all make mistakes another one of the many societal sins that we aren’t supposed do.” I started.
“My point is its okay if you can’t remember how to tell time, I went all the way through elementary and middle school without knowing left and right.”
“I’ll walk out with you if you want.” I said to her.
Chuckling she said “I’ll go turn off the lights and stand by the door.”
I walked back to the table and stuffed my notebooks and miscellaneous things into my backpack then headed back toward the door where the woman stood suddenly realizing I never got her name.
Once I made it to the door and opened it immediately motioning for her walk before me.
“I didn’t get your name?” I said. From the confused look on her face I knew that I needed to explain.
“I was asking you tell to me your name.” I told her.
“Oh, yes, it’s Vivian.” She said.
“My name’s Chayla.” I spoke to her with a smile. We talked all the way to the corner of 46th street right next to the only bistro with food safety score above a 70 that’s around the corner from the taco stand with really god burritos. Don’t judge me, it’s just how I remember things.
We walked down the stairs to the subway and I told her about my life.
“I go to Stanford University as a computer science major.”
“Oh, my grandson is doing the exact same thing. He usually is really tired.” Ms. Vivian told me. “You’d love him, but he is a bit of a smart mouth.”
“You mean he’s sarcastic.”
“Oh yes that.” Ms. Vivian.
Ms. Vivian Looked down at her phone often during the subway ride. I started to worry a little after a while. I was just about to ask her what was wrong when she said “Would you mind walking with me to meet my grandson, Sebastian?”
“Of course not.” I replied immediately.
The door hissed as it opened and we both stepped out trying not to get knocked over by the late working parents and GED class teachers coming home after their night classes.
As we walked up the stairs we passes the everyday person your cranky bus driver, the aspiring actress who turns a walk around the block into an episode of glee, and then the drink homeless man in a Santa suit. It’s almost as bad a new years in time square when some 70-year old hunch back witch tried to fight me for my beanie.
We continued our conversation as we waited to cross the street. We were walking across the street when I saw a guy I’ve had a love hate relationship with since fourth-grade, Sebastian Hanas. He was sitting on a cab with a small book in his hands. Once in front of each other, He and I exchange puzzled looks then turn to Ms. Vivian who proceeds to give us the same look and say “What?”
I and Sebastian both laughed then turned to each other he stuck his tongue out at me and I blew raspberry at him. He just chuckled and shuck his head and ignored my presence.
“Gram, why don’t you get in the front?” Sebastian said walking around the other side of the cab.
“Well, what about the nice young lady that walk with me?” Ms. Vivian asked.
With one eyebrow slightly raised and wry smile he said “What about her?”
I crossed my arms and waited.
I looked up at the sight of Sebastian coming around the front of the car and then he pulled me by my right arm. He opened the back left door and just said “Get in.”
I couldn’t help but smile as I climbed into the back seat but as soon as I did he pulled off and I struggled quickly pulling the door closed.
“What was that for?” I asked, the irritation evident in my voice.
“Put on your seat belt before you get me arrested.” He said with a smirk still on his face.
The ride to the house was quick but I noticed only a few blocks away that Ms. Vivian was already asleep obviously very tired from a long day at work.
Once outside my apartment building I picked my bags up from the seat and tapped Sebastian on the shoulder.
He turned around and said in almost in a whisper “What?”
I asked “How much do I owe you?”
He look at his grandmother, then across the street before looking back to me and “Nothing.” was all he said.
I stared at him for a moment. “Thanks.”
I grabbed my bags and reached for the door then stopped. Letting go of the door handle I asked if he wanted to come upstairs.
With a sly smile on his face and one eyebrow raised he then asked “Are you hitting on me?”
I just ignored him. “I’m was asking because your grandma looks cold and was wondering if you wanted some tea?”
He looked hesitant at first but then decided to politely wake his grandmother. He lightly nudged her arm until she woke looking confused.
I stifled a little laugh. It reminds me how I’m not a morning person. I don’t like being messed with when I’m sleeping.
“What’s so funny?” Sebastian asked.
“Don’t worry about it.” I said before turning to Ms. Vivian.
“You look cold. Do you want some tea?” I asked wiping her hair out of her face.
Faintly smiling she said “Yes, that would be nice.” She rubbed her arms.
I grabbed my bags and got out of the cab, shutting the door behind myself.
Ms. Vivian tried to open her own door but Sebastian beat her to it. Surprising neither of us had seen him get out of the car. He even held it open for her. So Sweet.
Maybe he’s not so bad.
Distracting me from my thoughts Sebastian asked which floor I was on. Instead of answering his question I walked around the car to the front of the building to be buzzed in.
I pressed the button and intercom came on. Gretta, the building manager answered.
“Hello?” she said.
“It’s Chayla Mrs. Peterson can you please buzz me in?”
“Come on up.” She said.
When I heard the door buzz I pulled the door open and held it open for Ms. Vivian. Sebastian just behind Ms. Vivian grabbed the door and held it open for Mrs. Daniels with her little bags of groceries from the mini mart probably.
We walked up the first staircase then caught the elevator to my floor.
Once inside Sebastian asked again.
“You’re on the seventh floor?” Sebastian said in disbelief.
“Yeah,” I said finally. “I should’ve thought about that before I invited you up.”
“It’s cool.” he said.
“Ms. Vivian are you okay?” I asked concerned realizing she’d said nothing all this time.
“Oh, yes. I’m fine. Just a tad tired.” She softly spoke before yawning.
The elevator made the ding sound, the doors opened and since I was closets I walked out first waiting for Sebastian and Ms. Vivian momentarily.
I briskly walked down the hall until we reached apartment the apartment with peeling numbers hanging from one nail that read 707.
My apartment is probably and Sebastian will never let me live it down. I struggled to get the key in the lock and heard muffled laughter behind me.
When the door finally did open I immediately heard barking that sounded like puppies and was proven to be correct when all four of them ran out of the kitchen towards me. I dropped my keys and had to kneel down to get them. One of them licked my face before I had time to react and I pushed it off of me.
I motioned for Ms. Vivian and Sebastian to follow me in. “Make yourself at home”
I walked into the kitchen and found the packs of tea all over the floor. One of the little thingies had the nerve to chew on my tea bags in front of me.
I tugged at it but he wouldn’t let it go. I picked the dog up and shook it. I sat it down to pull at the tea bag one more time the slobbery tea leaves were all over my face.
I heard heavy footsteps at the doorway of the kitchen and saw Sebastian with one hand on his head laughing.
“Don’t even ask.” I say harshly trying not to laugh.
I try to get off the floor using the counter but I lose my grip and fall. Out of nowhere I just start laughing.
Sebastian joins me soon after and then moments later pulls me off the floor with left arm.
“Thanks.” I say through laughter. I dusted off my pants. We stood there for a moment then I grabbed the face towel on the rack above the sink and put some cold water on it.
Sebastian laid his hand over mine and turned on the warm water. He took the towel out of my hand and wiped my face.
Once he was done he pulled me closer. At this moment I began to remember our friendship. I don’t understand how after all these years we found each other. I got adopted and he lived with his grandmother.