1: A Typical Morning
Can you imagine how easy your life would be if you always knew the right decisions over the wrong ones? Knowing the takeout you had would give you food poisoning, feeling the right answer on that multiple choice question on that big exam. What if you already knew that blind date you just got set up on would be a disaster? You’d have no regrets. Such talents don’t exist... Or do they?
For Hali Jasper, it did. At age twenty-one, she’d had it easy; straight A’s throughout school, never broke a bone in her body, and had never had a bad date. She has had a privileged life thanks to what she calls her lucky sense. It had helped her get into her dream art school, The Toronto School of Art, and with a near full scholarship to go with it; her lucky sense helping her write those scholarship essays. This, combined with her parents’ savings for her education, left Hali only having to pay for her own food and half the rent every month. In Toronto, of all places!
Hali found an Ad for a place in Baldwin Village looking for another room-mate. It was only a twenty minute transit ride (or a fifteen-minute walk and transit ride if Hali wanted to shave off a few more minutes) but it also helped because walking with a large canvas bag was a killer on her back.
When she saw the place, she had an instant connection with Amy-- the girl who showed it. Their compatibility got her the position as “New Room-mate”. So, Hali moved in with Amy and two men; there was Ryan McNeil, who was a data entry clerk at an office downtown, -- although, he often skipped work for gigs with his rock band, where he played Bass-- Amy Page, who was an elementary school teacher, -- they have girls nights on Saturday when they both have the evening off, hanging out in Amy’s room and streaming movies-- and lastly, Conan Adlam, who was very kind, but the strangest of all the room-mates. He looked about twenty-five, but acted decades older. He was mature and exceedingly kind. Conan leased and owned the space downstairs where he ran a cafe. He also happened to be Hali’s manager, offering her a job when she told him she was looking for work. She had been working there ever since she moved in two months earlier.
Hali woke up that morning to the sound of her alarm. It was just another typical Tuesday. She pushed herself up and groaned as her body relaxed from its sleep-stiff state. Hali sighed and scratched her head, running her hands through her thick wavy black hair. It was a mess as usual, and would take extra conditioner to untangle.
She stood up, grabbed her towel, and headed to the shared bathroom to take a shower. Opening her door, she suddenly froze for a moment. ‘Oh no, this won’t work,’ she thought as a nagging sensation came over her. Just as she realized it, Ryan came barrelling out of his room in a panic, he gave her an apologetic glance.
“Sorry!” he cried “I overslept and I’m late!”
“It’s okay, I’ll eat first,” she sighed. The feeling disappeared, so Hali knew that was the best option. Putting her towel back, she walked into the kitchen at the opposite end of the hall. Upon entering, she saw Amy placing her dishes in the drying rack; she was wearing her work clothes. She looked at Hali and laughed.
“I’m surprised you didn’t fight Ryan for the bathroom. We have a schedule in the mornings for a reason.”
Hali shrugged. “I’ll be alright.”
“Ohhhh?” Amy gave her a knowing look “Stealing that luck for yourself, again?”
Amy was the only one in the household who Hali had told about her luck and shared it only after a long night of drinks and “girl talk”. Ever since, Amy enjoyed teasing Hali about it, and liked to claim that she stole the luck from others. This made Hali laugh at the absurdity. Amy had the best sense of humour, which Hali was thankful for, as she was the acting landlord for her grandmother who owned the building. It made the living situation comfortable.
Hali poured herself a bowl of cereal and flashed Amy a cocky smile, “I thought you knew? I just ooze it.”
Amy laughed and walked towards the doorway, “Well, I gotta go. Those kids won’t learn elementary level Math without me.”
“Have a good day!” Hali called out. She sat at the long table in her usual seat and ate breakfast. Once finished, she cleaned her bowl and spoon, retrieved her towel -yet again- and stood outside the bathroom door. She sensed that she was just in time. “Five, four, three, two, one,” she mumbled aloud and with a click, the door unlocked and Ryan burst from the restroom, his tie and shirt on, but not yet tucked into his pants. “Good luck!” she called, as she went into the bathroom.
Once showered and dressed, Hali applied make-up, grabbed the overflowing bag containing her paint supplies and a canvas bag, before snatching her wallet and phone, and tucking them into her purse. She hurried to the stairs and out the door. Stopping at the cafe entrance, Hali noticed they only had a handful of customers in line at the moment. She decided she had time to get some coffee, but as she approached, someone called her name.
Glancing over to the edge of the counter, she saw Conan. He was holding up a coffee, her name written on it. She hurried over and sent him a smile. “Thank you, you’re the best.”
“You were running late, so I figured you didn’t have time to wait,” he explained in a soft British accent, worn down from years living abroad.
God, she adored his accent, and his handsome grey eyes, almost the same shade as her own. Despite how handsome he was, he looked at everyone with the same professional smile and showed no interest in anything outside of his cafe. Conan’s hair was dark, but had a hint of reddish brown mixed in. He had it styled front to back using its own lift, giving it that natural brushed back appearance. All the girls at the cafe thought he was super attractive.
“Well, you were right. Ryan slept in and it threw my morning off just a little,” she said, taking a sip of the coffee. “Oh, that’s nice. Tastes a little different, though.”
“We are out of Soy milk until the order arrives... sometime today, so I used almond milk,” Conan explained. “I hope that’s alright?”
“Oh, fantastic,” she said. “But plain milk will work just fine. I just prefer the taste of soy with my coffee. The almond milk is nice, though.”
Hali readjusted her bags and took another long drink. “I better get going.”
“Yeah, I have to check on the cakes in the oven,” he said. “See you tonight?”
“5PM to 10:30PM,” she stated her shift for that evening. Hali was still looking at him as she stepped away backwards towards the entrance. A sensation came to her -- she froze and stopped. Glancing behind her where the milk and sugar station stood, there was a man fiddling with the lid of his cup. If she had kept going without looking, she would bump into him, and his drink was going to spill; she could sense it. Hali turned her attention back to Conan and pointed over her shoulder, “You better clean that up.”
He gave her a questionable stare. “Clean what up?”
Conan’s gaze drifted to the station and watched as the man’s lid popped off and coffee spilled all over the station and the floor. Conan’s eyes shot to Hali, giving her a shocked look. “How did you know?!” She shrugged and waved to him as she headed out to class for the day.
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