My alarm’s rumpus brought me back to live for the second time. I opened my eyes and shut them off in a second. Gosh! There was no way I could face the incensed light coming from the windows, and even if I could, I wasn’t ready to face the day. I did not want to leave the comfort offered by my pillow, the warmness of my bed and ephemera protection of my comforter. My whole body had been here, lazy for hours. My arm found a way out through the blanket and with no guidance of my eyes, my fingers— indolent and angry to return in unused state—slapped the alarm clock. Two more minutes, just two, I promise…
Griiinnng! I jumped out my blanket, this time it was the doorbell. Rusty as it was, its noise was thousand and thousand times worse than a football goal celebration during the Super-bowl. I was now stood, moving my wooden feet in a snail rate. Griiinnng! the bell rang once more. my eyes still shut—the light was still too bright, too angry for me to handle it. I crossed my apartment, relying on my other senses.
‘‘Coming.’’ I said few steps away from the door. ‘‘Chris, hope you brought them—’’
I was wearing my nightwear—a black large tank top and my underwear. I yanked the door opened. ‘‘They better be lik—’’ I froze. It was not Chris.
‘‘Morning. You have a package.’’ The guy said, nearly on his 30’s I would say. He his eyes dwelt on me for a moment—leaving my head aside of course; don’t know what he was looking. I am not the type you find in a playboy magazine, not even close. Not the sexy girl next door but more of not sexy, not pretty and just normal. The only thing that might make you look twice at me are my eyes. They are what I like to call pure-sky blue and sure Chris will back me up on this one.
I let out a cough. He dropped his eyes off and handed me an envelope and his clipboard. The envelope was blank, nothing written on it but my name in an intimidate handwriting that we rarely see in real life, Melisa Wadsworth.
‘‘Where did it come from?’’ I said.
He eyed me and dropped his gaze down on the clipboard. Don’t know, don’t wanna know…just sign! That was I felt, what his mouth couldn’t say aloud but his gaze did.
‘‘O-okay!’’ I sighed and gave him back the clipboard.
I stood there looking at the envelop, giving myself a chance guess its provenance, but nothing was coming in my mind. My list of acquaintances was so short that a couple of seconds were enough to count them all, none of them could sent me an envelope with such good-looking handwriting.
‘‘Hey, M,’’ I heard a voice from afar. ‘‘Hey!’’ the voice came closer, right before me and I recognized it.
I took my gaze off the envelop. ‘‘Did you bring them?’’
With humor, Chris covered his face with two paper bags. ‘‘Always.’’
‘‘Thanks, don’t know what I’ll do without you.’’
‘‘First thing first.’’ He rose his index finger, ‘’nothing, there no doubt at it. You see me, am the sun and you?’’ His finger found my chest, ‘‘you just a mere Kryptonian.’’
We faced each other, him smiling and me nothing. The only response I gave him was a faint hum—Not sure if it was right to tell him I didn’t get the joke—that I mostly don’t get his jokes.
‘‘Secondly?’’ I asked, picking a peanut butter cookie inside the paper bag. ‘‘gosh, love it.’’ My mouth full, I murmur.
‘‘Secondly, you getting inside, take a shower and get to your intervi—’’
Gosh! I reeled back, yanked the door open—as the last word came out of his mouth, interview—and dash back to my room. Once under the shower, I cleaned myself up in less time than Usain Bolt when he broke the record in 2009, and stood before my wardrobe unable to find what to wear. Not because I had so many choices, but because my wardrobe could be easy define in two words Casual wear. There was nothing which could do an interview. I plunged my hands inside the wardrobe hoping a miracle will happened, maybe The Fairy Godmother was waiting for me behind all these Shirts, T-shirts, jeans, tank tops, etc.…
‘‘Nah this one…Nah either, …it won’t do and not you…you?’’ I scratched my head, ‘‘Nah Nah nah!’’
‘‘Done?’’ Chris called me up.
‘‘Yeah! coming.’’ I stood there, scratching my head and eating my nails—my mind open to any epiphany. There was none, no Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo! and Bam! I’m a princess with crystal shoes.
I tighten my tower as if it was the only thing left for me and walked out of my room.
‘‘I’m meeting the woman today you know, this afternoon’’ eyes on his phone, Chris started talking as he heard my footsteps in the living.
I found the paper bag on the table and let out all my frustration on the cookies.
‘‘I think it’s going to work out. And that—’’ He froze and looked at me crushing the cookies with my teeth like Candy Crush game-play.
I dropped my hands down, my short hair covering my angry eyes and said. ‘‘Nothing to wear.’’ I candy crushed on another cookie.
I walked and took a seat on the chair opposing Chris. He gave me a soft smile, grabbed the second paper bag next to him and gently put it before me. He gazed me, raised an eyebrow and nodded.
‘‘What it—’’ I interrupted myself. It wasn’t a paper bag, but a cardboard bag from the store opposing our building.
‘‘Go and try it.’’
I gave a big warm smile, grabbed the bag and stepped to my room. Few minutes later I was back with a felling I was someone else, carrying myself differently in this Dark-Blue Stripe Jacket Skirt suit. I walked before Chris, ‘‘How do I look?’’ I whirled.
‘‘Superb. Ready to face the day?’’
I nodded. Then we walked out of my apartment.
The weather had cool down, no angry wind, no cloudy sky, but a pure azure with painted snow-white clouds announcing a wonderful and blessed day for those who needed luck, those like me. We were at Darefall, a small town at the South-West of California where faces were recognizable, were a person’s name could not leave the mind of those who know it even after death, a place where I settle myself for the past three years and which I call home. Across the road opposing our building a next to the shop store was a coffee shop Little Bit, where Chris and I celebrated my first article during my internship at Real Time magazine and after time the place had become our fortress. When none of us had work, especially on week-ends, we spent most our days in there. The owner Mrs. Bit was a woman much more than generous.
The short trip from my apartment to the outside demanded more effort than I thought—walking around in heels felt like an entire day of ballerina training. We stopped, waiting for a cab. Chris eyes were on me, they had never left me since we walked out my apartment. His gaze subject of adoration on my person—maybe it was just my imagination—and it made me uncomfortable. I looked here and there, coughed, waved the first cab that past us, someone was inside, looked again here and there, tried to check at Mrs. Bit from afar, then brought my gaze back to him. His eyes were still on me. I faced him; he did not budge. I looked closely then I was back to the reality. I was wrong, Chris eyes had never been on me. They were like caught in a spell—blank—towards Mrs. Bit coffee shop. I followed his gaze. the neighborhood was eventless, outside the shop normal like it’s had always been. Cars passing, people, blacks, whites, Asians, someone walking with a dog, a woman jogging, a little crying a morning ice-cream. Nothing interesting in sum. And inside: a young couple holding hands and looking at each other as if they were the only ones left in this mundane world, behind their table an old man wearing a flap cap, and in front of the couple’s table a man in khaki jacket; a detective, and there were three more people. I knew all of them. There was nothing suspicious.
‘‘You okay?’’ I turned him by his shoulder to face me.
‘‘Gotta see someone. You should hurry up.’’ He turned his heels and walked away.
Behind him I finally got a cab.
I was going at TRUTH, one of the most reputed journals in the world, where everyone living in this town wanted to pursue journalist career. The one-hour trip past like a flash.
I was now in front the huge building with a big metal on top marked TRUTH. The atmosphere changed around me; the gentle sun seemed like a friend saying goodbye to me. The feeling I had when I put on the suit had evaporate and only uncertainty was left. Everyone around was well dressed compared to me, yet we wore the same outfit—office dress. However, I saw myself like a shy little girl on her pink princess dress holding a fairy stick. I stood there, a part of me forcing me to past the double glass door and the other one saying the exact opposite. People walked in and out the building, they all seemed in hurry, no one put an eye on me, no one seemed to pay attention to the one walking by him or her, they were all blind to everything around them like sharks moving towards a target. I did the same, walked inside the building looking ahead of me and nowhere else.
I announced my rendezvous to the receptionist, signed my presence and she directed me on the fifteenth floor. Once out of the elevator I moved straight to the big black glass door and opened it with care. An old woman maybe on her 50’s or more welcomed me. I introduced myself to her, gave the reason my visit, then she told me to wait with no words but a simple hand gesture and after a while she spoke. ‘‘A young girl just like you, is inside.’’
I did a quick check up on my outfit but the intimidate woman’s gaze on me—while she was typing, the sound of her fingers on the keypad sounding like it won’t change the fact about who you are—made me unease. I stopped right away and the door at my right yanked opened, a girl about my age walked out crying and coming from inside the office the HR voice—Mr. McCarthy, yelling as if he had just lost a lotto winning ticket.
Nonplussed, my eyes faced the old woman, went back to the door and back to the woman. She nodded and pointed the office.
I walked through the door.
‘‘Have a seat.’’ Said Mr. McCarthy.
Mainly to avoid Mr. McCarthy intense gaze, my eyes traveled around the room. The shelves were full of trophies, the wall of certificate enough for an exposition. The man in front of me looked nothing like a journalist. He was black, bald, and manly muscular. Yet he was one of the best in his field.
‘’Morning Sir…am Melissa War—’’
‘‘I know that.’’ he scratched his beard. ‘‘Any parent that is or was in journalism?’’ he said.
‘’yes. I mean no. None sir.’’ I stammered.
‘‘Yes.’’ I nodded.
His eyes were on my file. ‘‘Both parents still alive?’’
‘‘Er…’’ I shut himself off for a second or two. He gazed at me waiting, waiting for me to opened my mouth. ‘‘No sir, just have my uncle.’’
‘‘Sorry for your parents. What is your uncle’s name?’’ He asked.
‘‘Jerry sir.’’ I was confused, I did not what these questions were all about.
‘‘Now!’’ he took off his eyes from my file and locked at me. He gave me a faint smile and shut it off instantly. ‘‘On your final year of degree on Journalism and,’’ he gazed the file, ‘‘you did your internship at Real Time magazine.’’
‘‘Yes sir. For six months.’’
‘’Six months, hum, even two years wouldn’t change anything dear. What were you writing about?’’ He laughed shortly.
It hits me hard at my back. What does it mean? Only the courage was lacking for me to stand and put my fist on his round and beard face. The pieces came together, the crying young girl, the old woman who was devoid of any emotion. Dealing with Mr. McCarthy will definitely leave you either like the girl or the old woman. Mr. McCarthy continued talking, disgracing the person I was and my former position at Rea Time magazine. Then something odd happened. The more he spoke, the less his words reached my ears, instead something else reached my ears, something that was unexpected. suffering. He was hurt, maybe home problem, his wife, definitely there was something that was bringing him down. I froze before him.
‘‘What is the matter young girl?’’ he asked and brought me back inside the office.
‘‘Are you okay sir?’’ I made a moved.
He leaned back on his chair, bringing his foot along—scratching on the floor—and crossed a leg. ‘‘You are not here to ask question.’’ he said looking away.
We continued talking about me, about the position but, I was not paying attention, our discussion had become a mere background for my thoughts. The feeling, his feeling was so intense, warm, cold, gloomy and frightening. It flew inside me and I could not stop it even if wanted. It was there, now part of me.
‘‘We are done.’’ he said.
We both stood and shook hands; I remove mine as we made a contact. I could not stand the room anymore and what I felt by touching his hand now froze my blood. It was the feeling of death, his death. Death because I know how it feels, I had felt it before, years ago and from people I would never forget. I walked out the office, rushed to the elevator. My stubborn mind on thinking, my whole-body shivering and I was making slow and shallow breath, attracting the attention of everyone inside the elevator. But none of their eye’s matter, none of them could understand what I was going through. The elegant dress on me, now suffocated me. I reached the lobby heading outside, the receptionist called me—my mind was elsewhere—no looking back I passed the door. I took a cab. I could not calm myself; the feeling of death was still inside me, communicating my thoughts. The taxi driver was looking constantly back at me, maybe he thought I was insane, but my outfit gave me some status maybe he thought I was rich and insane. I made him stop right in front of the building, yanked the car door and climbed the stairs. I Reached my door, opened it and I stood in my living room, panting, sweating, insanely ransacking my bag. I found my phone then made a call.
‘‘come on…come on…’’
Hey! Is Jerry leaving your message after the beep.
‘Unc… Uncle Jerry…it’s happening again—’’
Then I passed out.