Ria sighed as she looked at her almost empty wallet. The outline of it's edges has changed it's original color and almost indiscernable. She flipped it open and saw a few hundred dollar bills as she continue to munch on the cheap cereal in her bowl.
"Damn. I might go hungry again for the next two days," she said to herself.
Life has always been hard for her since she arrived here in New York. She lived in a small apartment,half of which is occupied by her already small bedroom. All she have are a few things to keep her living from day to day. Her cellphone and laptop are the most precious belongings she have.
She just opened her laptop and checked through her emails when a notification of an upcoming videocall popped out.
"Hi Ria. I'm glad you accepted my call. I missed you. Where are you right now? Mom has been asking you for like 10 times today already." The man on the screen pouted.
"I'm fine and don't worry about me. How is your school? You better behave and take care of your Mom and Dad. Also...",she felt a pang of pain in her heart but she erased it quickly and said,"how is Mom doing?".
The person on the screen immediately softened his eyes and answered,"They are fine and they miss you."
"That's great. Oh I'm sorry Rix but I need to go. Let's just talk again when I have time,"she said smilingly and quickly turned off the videocam.
She heaved a sigh,composed herself and stand up grabbing the bag on a near table. Then she went outside and locked the door before leaving.'Today will be a long day',she thought.
"Good Morning,Ria. You took the extra night shift for tomorrow?"
"Hmm. I have nothing to do anyway. It's best that I take it."
"Don't tell me... You have no money again? Are you starving yourself with burger again? That's not good for your health!"
I laughed,"Burgers are tasty and are my favorite food. Don't talk ill of it."
"I knew you would say that. But just in case you have a problem you can always tell me," the blond haired girl said with a smile.
That was her co-worker and friend,Jenny. She arrived here in New York earlier than her. When she saw Ria that day looking like lost person going around the city square, she kindly approached and asked her of her problem. She realized they're both asians so she gladly helped Ria when she told her of her situatuon. She's also the one who helped her look for an apartment . She said she would have taken her in if not for her living with her boyfriend.
Ria was cleaning the storage shelves and mopping the floor of the storage room of the establishment. After making sure she cleaned the whole storage room, she went to the backdoor to throw the piled up plastics of garbages for the week. She was about to throw them when something catched her attention. It was a newspaper dated yesterday.
Asian prodigy Alexander Kerr wows crowd as he hit the stage of China's biggest stadium of 55000 seat capacity performing the piano piece of 'Classics of Beijing' in the 107th Asian Summit held in China. Kerr is also a talented pop singer in Asia also known as 'The Prince of 21st Century Music".
She smiled bitterly. The article was full of praises for the man. He is quite familiar. She remember him when he played Beethoven's famous piece 'Fur Elise'. It was truly outstanding and even more remarkable as it's not hard for her to recall it until now. She threw the newspaper along with the garbage bags in her hands and returned inside.
2pm @ The Steak Street.
"Table no. 401. Good to go!"
She hurriedly went to the counter and picked up two plates with the steak dish on it. Holding it carefully with both hands, she steadily walked to the designated table.
"Excuse me,Maam and Sir. Here is your order. Anything you would like to add?"
The female costumer smiled and shook his head,"We are fine. Thanks."She politely nod and immediately left.
This is her next part-time job location. It is a steakhouse few kilometers from the teahouse she worked for in the morning. She have been working here for almost a month now.If only I have brought those important papers back home....it wouldn't have been a problem looking for a more high paying job. She mentally scolded herself.
The situation this time can't be helped and she have been taking on different part-time jobs for the last three months she have been here. She realized she really need to get her hands on those papers back home. It should be available by now. She definitely can't ask Rix....or maybe she'll just ask her friend in the university! Her heart raced at the thought. Just a little bit of patience,Ria. You can endure it for now.
The shift ended by 6pm and looking outside it still looks bright as the sunset has yet to fully embraced the sky. She changed out of her uniform and went out of the building. She saw a nearby fastfood chain so she quickly crossed the street and ordered two hamburgers. Her dinner has been set.
Ria decided to walk by the distance and finally reach the famous bay in this part of the city. There are a few people this time. Maybe because people nowadays prefer to go to malls and movies than to unwind here, it was quiter today. She decided to sit and rest for a while after seeing an empty bench.
Perfect. That's what she thought. The bench was facing the beautiful body of water where the reflection of the sunset could be seen giving her the best view of God's creation. She turned to look at the sea and as if on cue, memories started to flow like the waves of seawater. She seem to hear a laughter as if it's like yesterday. She quickly dispelled the idea.
Opening the plastic bag of the burger she bought, the familiar aroma permeated her nasal. She decided she might as well eat it since it's almost dinner anyway. She was about to grab a bite when an old man suddenly sat on the other end of the bench. She stopped on her tracks. From the dirty looks and clothes of the man, she can deduced that he was a beggar. He looks tired and hungry with a huff.
Ria felt sympathetic towards the man. She remembered herself when she first came here---lost,broke and unemployed. The man this time though must be worse than her.
"Here." She sincerely offered the burger as she extended her hand towards him. The beggar turned to look at her and his eyes suddenly shone brightly. He grabbed the burger quickly,opened and finished eating it in less than two minutes.
How many days have he been starving?
"You can have this one as well. It's for my dinner but... nevermind. I always eat them anyway!" I said cheerfully as I offered the last burger on my hands. She was glad to help the man as she was once someone who needed help. He stared at her unbelievably for a second but not for long he grabbed the the other piece of burger on her hand and started eating again.
She returned her gaze to the beautiful sunset. She wanted to enjoy the scenery but not in this kind of situation. "The sunset is really beautiful than I had back at home," she muttered softly and a tear slipped her crescent eye. She wiped it her eye clean with the back of her hand and stand up.
"Hey,mister. I will be going now. Here's a little money that I have. You can have it and take care on your way," she said putting the dollar bill on the bench and left.
Unbeknownst to her, the man looked at her with glittering eyes. A few moments later after the girl left, a few people came rushing in and carried the beggar man away.
7pm @ Johnson F. Street
Ria has been walking for about 20 minutes when she saw the familiar street of the building she lived in. This part of the neighbourhood is as busy as any part of New York City bustling with business and food areas everywhere. Cars and taxis are going back and forth but thankfully the traffic is not bad.
She continued to walk. The smell of delicious food permeating the air was a big torture. She needed to quickly go home and sleep early tonight. She was crossing the street when she suddenly heard a screech.
"What ----." Before she knew it, her body flew a few meters away and she felt an earth shattering pain on her back. She grimaced in pain and tried to move her head to look around but she can't.
'Am I dying?',she thought.
Soon,memories came flooding in.
"Hey, Ria. Come here. Al has come home," the man chuckled on the other line.
"Really? Okay. I'll go there immediately!" The excited girl looked at herself in the mirror twice before running outside. She was all smiles as she walked to the door and knocked. The door opened and her smile widened more...
"Al...Al..." Ria struggled as she muttered these words in almost a whisper.
I don't wish for anything in this world...but I just want to see your beautiful smile...for the last time.
The sound of the ambulance rang and a few moment the paramedics arrived. They carried the almost lifeless body on the stretcher and went inside the medical vehicle.
Ria,on the other hand...continued dreaming.