When The Air Strikes

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Hayden was one of the two handpicked interns from across schools in London to be directly given a job at my parents’ office. She was also my senior at school. After completing college she came back and is the youngest person to be working at the office. We aren’t good friends or anything, but everybody at Click just seems nice. She gets me the famous drink (it’s just hot coffee with huge brownie chunks), we sit in the balcony, despite the slight drizzling and “catch up.”

At regular intervals Hayden talks about how awesome my mom is, and all I can do is roll my eyes and manage a little laugh. But deep inside I want to sprint in because coffee break would be over any time and Andrew would get back to work.

“I was going to come to watch you at the slam, but I’ve been busy lately,” said Hayden. The word busy brightened the centre of her eye, rather than turning them dull like one would expect.

“It’s alright. It wasn’t a great performance or anything. I’m sorry if you’ve had to listen to mom boast about it.”

“No, really, I would have loved to be there. Anyway, I’ve got some news. The office is planning to send me to France to cover the Bastille Day. I know it has usually been your mom, but she has better, more professional stuff coming her way-“

I hate to interrupt while people are talking about things they love, especially when it’s been on their bucket list forever. It breaks my heart to abruptly end the conversation when very apparently they want to endlessly paint their dreams in the most beautiful hues, but it’s now or never.

“Hayden, I’m sorry to interrupt. I’d love to know every tiny detail about your trips, but I don’t have time. Have you seen mom lately? When did you last see her?”

“Last night, your mom, dad and Andrew were in the lobby for a long time. Can I help? Something is bothering you, isn’t it?”

“Yes, a lot. But I’ve got to ‘catch up’ with another person now. If I need any kind of help I’ll get back to you. Hope you don’t mind. Bye.”

With that I scoop myself from the chair. I’m inside hall nine, when Hayden calls for me. I turn back and she says, “There’s something else I want to tell you too.” I stand still. “I read an article about your name’s origin. It’s amazing…..Okay, now is not the time.”

Right then a chilly breeze floats across the city. Hayden’s red hair is all over face. While she tries putting it back in place, I slip into the hall, out in the corridor, towards the lift.

Andrew, a slightly bald man with unconsciously funny instincts, is always busy. He’s eating a sandwich while holding a piece of paper close to his face, when I get into hall seven. The hall is almost empty. Most of the people are in the huge balcony. It’s a good place to be in.

Andrew looks at me entering and the first thing he says is, “Happy Birthday.” I am taken aback. I zone in and realize that he’s wishing me, “It’s tomorrow,” I correct him. “I know,” he says, “I was just wanted to know if you remember.” The huge bulb of laughter is stuck at the back of my throat but I can’t manage to force anything out of my mouth except, “Where are my parents?”

“I don’t know.”

“I know you do.”

“I know you know that I do.”

“They usually leave after my birthday to Paris for their marriage anniversary celebrations. You couldn’t have sent them for work at this time. Where are they?”

He looks at his watch then at his mobile. He always dramatizes the situation. “It’s 12 at noon, a little too early for answers and a little too late for me to be standing here. The coffee break is almost over. Come back tomorrow. If I find any information that can be forwarded I will surely do the needed.” He pats me on the back, without meeting my eyes and leaves. Now, all I want to do is shout at the man who owns the office I am standing in. I really do. But I quietly leave and punch the door, while doing the same. It’s not exactly stress relieving, but a few heads turn towards me, then they swirl and stare at Andrew. I smile. He will have a good time explaining to his colleagues the reason behind an infuriated teenager.

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