Brooklyn. The place where mom spent her time with me when I was a kid. Dad has told me about her time in The States before we landed.
“This is the place,” he pointed towards a dilapidated building. Cracks appeared from top to the bottom of a grey looking, paint scrapped building. The sunlight was behind the towers, casting a shadow over it. It seemed gloomier, sadder with the recent developments in my life.
Dad moved ahead, stood on the first of the many stairs that danced at the entrance before curving around the corner. He turned and lend me his hand. I looked up at the building again. Hardly four-storied.
“How did you know she stayed here?” I asked.
He gestured at me again to take his hand, fingers happily flapping up and down. I held his hand, trailing behind.
“After Florence came back to London, we talked for a couple of times. She told me about this place.”
His words reminded me of London. Of Roger. Of my heartbreak.
I was doomed to love a man who wouldn’t love me back. Unrequited love was the most painful and I was cursed to carry it in my heart. With thoughts of the contract with Roger lingering in my mind, dad’s words broke their impact.
“This is the room,” he beamed.
We stood in front of a rundown scarlet door. The knob was the only thing that looked from the Victorian era and held up as opposed to the otherwise crumbly door. Not only did the paint chipped off, but the wood itself was also peeling off from its ribs.
I looked around, two rooms per floor and a stairway for passage. How on earth did mom manage to survive here? How do I not have any recollection of it?
Dad ran a hand inside his coat and the silence was broken with a muffled chime with a bunch of keys huddled together.
“How do you have them?” I enquired.
He didn’t bother replying. He opened the door and walking inside. The dust had settled over everything in the place. Not that there was any furniture but whatever existed was covered in transparent plastic, now opaque with a thick layer of grainy dirt over it.
With every footstep we placed over the creaking wooden board, dust in the shape of mushroom clouds escaped from each crevice. I stayed still, trying to not move much. Dad continued his journey, walking ahead and creaking the entire apartment back to life.
He vanished behind the kitchen area. I watched the peeled paint and the musty chlorine smell which irritated my nose and throat. The open veranda was spectacularly blanketed with gray and black soot. Some factor must be nearby.
I walked over, sliding the glass separator. Setting sunlight strained my eyes while I stood outside. Dad’s voice traveled from his place of being.
“What do you think?”
I looked around before answering. “Think of what, dad?”
He gestured to the entire apartment. “Investment opportunity!”
I had my mouth open wide. He wasn’t making any sense. Well, not that I was. I called him from Roger’s place, only telling him that I wanted to leave London. All his questions about why I was taking such a hasty decision went unanswered. It was only a matter of time that he would play the same card back with me.
“We can’t invest in this place, dad. This place is, for the lack of a better word- dingy” I rolled my eyes when I said it. Dad laughter at me. He walked over to my side, balancing over the metal railing. The nuts and bolts creaked upon his weight. “I wouldn’t lean on that if were you.”
Hands in the air, he accepted my statement. We both watched the warming sun on a wintery day from an apartment my mom resided in.
“I want to buy the place and turn it into an upcoming neighborhood for the young working class.” He pointed to the places for references. “There are food joints, dry cleaners laundry places and schools and daycares hardly a couple of blocks away.” He was elated, bubbling with ideas.
When I interjected his trail of thoughts, he continuing his pleading. “The place can be good for us. It will be a good investment.”
He was asking me for my opinion and I decided to speak the truth. “We don’t need an investment opportunity in another country, dad. We came here to take a break from the usual, not to invest in real estate.”
Dad’s face dipped, his smile vanished and what remained was a frown from a grown man. He was interested in this place for reasons beyond my understanding.
Unable to take it further, I broke my code of empathy in business. “Okay fine. You tell me why this is a good opportunity for the Murphy’s and I will consider.”
He looked up and smiled, ”Oswalds."
“What did I say?” I asked, confused at his reference.
Dad smiled, lending me his hand. “Murphy’s.”
It made me realize, I was still stuck in London. Still stuck in the 20-inch cubicle, sitting a few feet away from the man I loved. Coming here was my way to avoid Roger, yet he crept into my conversation somehow. Not that he was out of my mind to not appear back.
Dad placed his hands over my shoulder, concern swirling in his eyes. “I won’t say that your decision to take a break was bad. But if you are running away to avoid problems, then please don’t. Deal with them, my child.”
I wanted to scream and shout from this place. I wanted to end the pain that danced inside of me. I wanted to end the tears that flowed at night, hiding under the covers in a fetal position to console me. I wanted it all to end. Dealing with it meant moving on from Roger.
How would you move on from something you are stuck at? How would you turn off unrequited love? Someone, please tell me.
I forgot what the discussion was about. When my eyes teared up, I turned around, pretending to check the proposal of investment.
“Do you know why I want to buy this place?” Dad questioned.
Wiping my face, I cleared my throat and nodded sidewise. “Because Florence lived here. This place had her. It had you. This place would always be where you grew up. The place where the love of my life stayed.”
I turned, watching dad who was willing to buy a place because it reminded him of mom. Even after she left him to raise me as her own. Even after everything.
I wanted that. I wanted a love like that. I wanted someone who would choose me. Like my dad did for my mom. I wanted someone to love me unconditionally, unequivocally. Someone who wouldn’t stop even if life ended.
The answer wasn’t Roger and it was clear what I wanted.
“Fine dad. Let’s draft a proposal for the owners.” I suspended my arms in the air. “I will help you with it.”
As elated as he could be, dad held me close to him. His embrace lightened the burden that I felt on my chest. It wasn’t gone but it was shared. He gave me the answer which I was seeking.
Move on. Let go of the past.
With connections in place, dad already had people who were willing to help with the paperwork. He wanted us to check it before finalizing it. As enthusiastic as he was in grabbing the opportunity before anyone else could, I had only one other thing on my mind.
As much as I was pumped up about seeing the neighborhood I grew up in, air travel had taken a toll on me. After the night at the office and the court proceedings of the day, my head hammered from the inside for me to rest upon a pillow. Dad went to discuss business; the amped-up businessman that he was, work always took precedence.
I was still learning the ropes. Retiring to my hotel room, I fell back on the bed. Sleep took over immediately. It was the evening at which time my eyelids felt lighter upon opening. I walked on the open rooftop.
The penthouse was booked for me to see the view. I stood witness to the pink and orange-hued sky bidding its farewell to the sun, hiding behind skyscrapers before slowly dipping into the horizon. Distant noises from the heavily trafficked street filled up the silence in my room.
I decided to walk around the city, see what the hype was about. A true Brit won’t accept, anything except London was better. Getting ready, I walked into the private elevator. The soothing music inside filled my heart with warmth in an otherwise colder area. Tugging the lapels over my chest, I braved into the cold streets.
Walking through the crowded walkways, I did all things a tourist would do. After grabbing a truckload of souvenirs and food that warmed my belly, I walked back to my hotel.
At the reception, the tall dusky male with a typical spikey accent called out my name. Trotting over, he slipped a sheet of paper with a message.
Please come back
There was a thing that everyone said about realization. Something about wandering placed till the actualization hits you. Till you realize what you wanted all along. I never had experienced it till today, till dad confessed his love for mom.
However, now I knew what I wanted. What I needed.
If Roger wanted me back, then he too needed to understand what I wanted. Since the time dad embraced me and drilled the concept of love, my arrangement with Roger was reviewed by me in a new light. It stopped being a one-sided game anymore. It stopped being what it always had been - a dominant’s play.
That day, I was reclaiming my heart and my lost esteem.
Turning to the man who held the open message, I smiled. “Please tell Roger that there are business propositions that we are undertaking and we would only return upon its completion.”
The man stood still, irresponsive. I nodded for his benefit, letting him know he could deliver that message. Moving quickly, the receptionist dialed digits over the phone. I walked across, moving to my elevator.
As the doors chimed in, the man came rushing back., panting. “Ma’am. Mr. Murphy asked, what is the approximate time when you will be back?”
Getting in, I pressed the penthouse button, the one termed for luxury. “Please ignore all his messages from now on,” I said, inhaling deeper than ever, channeling my confidence to stream back.
The elevator chimed its closure. A sense of relief spread through me. I wasn’t bound to anyone anymore. I was free.
Hope you all had a sense of closure on Arin. She is a big girl and big girls brave things.
Hope you all vote and comment and check out my other books too, especially the Mafia series and Military fiction :)