Does it ever happen when budgeting and music fit together in your mind? Or is that just me?
The numbers flowed seamlessly from my brain to the page as I hummed to High Hopes which was stuck in my head. Referring to the bank statements in front of me, I totalled up the leftover money from last month. I blinked disbelievingly when looking at the number. Sighing, I picked up my pen again to double check my calculations. Minutes later, a frown appeared on my forehead when I realised that the £15 profit wasn’t a miscalculation. Alice wouldn’t be too happy about this.
Turn the Page was her home and her job fused together as one. A place full of memories of her and her husband back in the late 50s. Sometimes, having a business degree comes in useful; this was one of those times. Yet, thanks to that degree, I knew that there weren’t many options available to save the shop from bankruptcy. I made a mental note to try to advertise this place on social media before it did. Looking at the increase of online shopping and pdf books, I could tell that it would be soon.
This place was like my safe haven, and I knew I’d do anything for Alice, who was like the grandmother I never had. She was that badass person who exists in stories and sometimes in real life. Someone who wouldn’t take no for an answer, but she could be the sweetest, most caring person you could ever meet.
The doorbell chimed to inform me that someone had stepped inside. Looking up, I saw a familiar mop of a blond pixie cut and...hold up are those my shoes? My eyes narrowed at my best friend before realising the heels were taller than mine. I leant back and slipped on my boots which had been discarded to the side. Quietly, I slipped out of my seat and crept towards her. Hovering behind her, I took a deep breath and jumped onto her,
Too late, I realised the thoughtful look that was imprinted on her face and what looked like traces of...fear? She patted my hand subconsciously, still lost in her thoughts. Seriously? I huffed and slid down to the floor. Spreading out my legs, I looked up. The fear was still there, though not as obvious. I tugged on her trouser leg. She looked around before settling on me. The fear vanished from her face and was replaced with a grin,
Oh, so now she sees me.
“You going to get up?”
“No,” I said, despite pushing myself off the floor. I paused before jumping onto her again. Closing my arms around her, I put in all my strength and squeezed.
“What th- Ah! I...ca...n’t...brea...the,” she gasped.
Good. I patted her on the back before disentangling myself from her. I let her catch her breath.
“What the hell was that for?”
“You’re really hard to scare.”
She just blinked at me, “Huh?”
“I tried to scare you and you didn’t even flinch. Oh yeah, about that, are you okay?”
“Yes…” she said slowly, “why?”
I squinted at her before shrugging my shoulders, “Just wondering. Anyway, how did it go?” I asked.
“Great! I got the job,” she replied, a smile stretching across her face. Ellie had gone to an interview for an editorial assistant at the Daily Mail. I knew she would be able to get the job. She was always the cleverer one out of the two of us but that still didn’t stop her from worrying about these things. This job was crucial to her and seeing her contagious smile made me grin right back at her. I opened my arms to hug her but she put her hands out.
“Nuh-uh. Maybe another time?” I deflated a little; I suppose I had squeezed her a little too hard earlier.
“This calls for a girls night. Food and movies?” I asked, looking at Ellie. She didn’t drink alcohol and neither of us liked to party so nightclubs and bars were a no. She looked uncertain for a moment before finally nodding her head.
“You sure you’re okay with that? I don’t want to make you celebrate but I think you should; I mean you got the job. Then again, I’m not you and so I don’t know if you want to even celebrate. I don’t want to force this on you. Do you want to do something else? We can do something else. Or we could just not do anything and do whatever plans we originally had. I mean, that is if you had any. That sounds rude. I don’t mean that as in like if you had some plans with someone else. And maybe...” I rambled.
“Nah, I’m fine with food and movies. Just worried about...stuff.” She smiled. Nice to know my rambling is amusing. The skin between my eyebrows creased.
“Did someone hurt you or offend you? Who? Do you want me to report them? You know I’m here for you right? Last time I checked, I was your best friend.”
“Unfortunately you still are and no, no one hurt or offended me. It’s fine, seriously.”
I narrowed my eyes at her, trying to read her mind. I wasn’t gifted with telepathy though, so the effort was futile to say the least. I suppose she would tell me in her own time...right? I took one last look at her, receiving a half smile in return. I pushed my worry to the side for a split second and checked the time; it was 4.30 pm. I was supposed to finish at five, but surely Alice wouldn’t mind me letting her man the shop for half an hour? I went over to the stairs and called out to her.
“Alice, can I leave you to mind the shop until closing time? Ellie got the job, and we...” I hesitated. Was I being a bad friend? Ellie clearly had something on her mind so was it the best idea to celebrate her new job? What if she doesn’t want to and she’s just going along because why not? I got a nudge in return as an answer. I glared at the culprit. “We would like to celebrate?”
“Hang on a sec dearie!” Alice shouted.
Footsteps echoed against the polished wood. Bringing a pile of books, Alice came down the stairs, her grey hair peeking out from the top of the books. She placed them on the circular oak table before coming up to Ellie and hugging her. By the look on Ellie’s face, she was most likely being squeezed to death. Again. Two minutes later, Alice stepped back and congratulated her,
“Congratulations Ellie!” She then turned to me. “Ava, do birds fly?”
I opened my mouth to reply that not all birds can fly when she cut me off.
“Yes. So there’s your answer.”
I hugged Alice in thanks before going behind the counter to grab my tote bag. After checking I had everything, Ellie and I waved goodbye to Alice before leaving. We came to an agreement that we would meet each other at the shops, and then parted.
Once we reached the apartment, we dashed into our separate rooms to change into our pjs. Dumping a pile of blankets and pillows onto the sofa and the food onto the coffee table, I set up Mean Girls. Meanwhile, Ellie slid a bag of popcorn into the microwave before grabbing two mugs and a box of tissues.
Throughout the movie, I glanced at Ellie to see if she was okay. She seemed calmer now and more relaxed compared to a few hours ago. I wondered why she was so...scared? Worried? Whatever she was feeling then was most definitely not a positive thing. I pulled my knees up to my chest and rested my chin on them.
Hours passed and soon, both Ellie and I were yawning. By mutual agreement, we started tidying everything away. Rubbing my eyes, I followed Ellie into the bathroom and picked up my toothbrush. Once my teeth were clean, I plodded to my bedroom before collapsing on my bed. Just before I let sleep take over, I reached for my phone to check that I had set an alarm for 7.30 in the morning. I had an interview at Knight’s Enterprises at 9.00 a.m. and I couldn’t be late for it.
I opened my eyes sleepily and rolled over to look at the time. My alarm hadn’t gone off yet so- WHAT?! It was fifteen minutes past eight. I had half an hour to get ready. This shouldn’t have been a problem but I was in dire need of a traditional English breakfast. I had been craving one for some time. And no, I couldn’t be bothered to cook one the past four days. Yes, yes I know I’m the epitome of lazy, no need to rub it in. Debating with myself for a minute, I decided that I would treat myself to brunch instead.
I flung off the covers and jumped out of bed. Throwing the duvet haphazardly across it, I snatched my outfit for today which was draped on my chair. Fumbling with the buttons on my blouse, I dashed into the bathroom and started washing my face. Checking the time, I saw I had ten minutes until I absolutely had to leave. I rushed into the kitchen and snatched a bowl, milk and cereal. Gulping down my breakfast, I dumped it into the sink and slipped on some plain black flats.
Popping a mint into my mouth, I grabbed my bag and walked out the door before going back inside to get my phone and keys. Ellie came out of her bedroom, rubbing her eyes, blinking at me in confusion. I wasn’t surprised. I was hardly an early bird. I quite liked getting bread instead of the worms but now is not the time to delve into my wonderful habits. I waved at her before shutting the door. Once I finally got out of the apartment block, it was ten minutes to nine. Unless a miracle happened, I would be late.
Of course, it was just my luck that the London traffic was being a bitch. I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel and tried to keep my calm. If I wanted to have a chance to get the job, I needed to make a good first impression. That meant I needed to be on time. Which wasn’t going to happen anytime soon judging on the amount of cars in front of me.
Finally! The traffic started to clear. Pulling into the car park with one minute to go, I jumped out and started to walk swiftly towards the main doors. Slipping through the revolving doors, I followed the signs to the reception. Why have a reception on the ground floor but seven miles away from the entrance? The elevators were closer to the entrance than the reception was. It was...an interesting decision. I ducked behind the stone pillar to avoid the crowds before colliding into someone.
“Omigosh, I’m so sorry. Are you okay?” I halted in my steps. A bad decision since I had an interview soon but I couldn’t just walk away without apologising...and taking a look at him. His chocolate brown hair was slightly tousled, giving him an I-just-got-out-of-bed look. Mix it with the way his clothes were tailored to fit his body ...it was enough to make my imagination run wild. A light pink dusted my cheeks. Ava, you need to focus on the interview that you’re close to being late for, not on the Greek God…
He glared at me. I mentally rolled my eyes. For someone who had looks, he sure was rude. Then again, why was I surprised? Finding someone who had the looks and the personality was like a blue moon. Sure you got them in novels and all but in real life. Hah. It’s like searching for a nonexistent needle in the haystack.
“Watch where you’re going next time,” he hissed. An image of Severus Snape came into my head. Okay. I need to stop. I’ll be moving onto vampires next. Though, judging on his behaviour so far, I’d say he’d ace Edward Cullen.
He shot daggers at me one last time before walking off.
He’s definitely a Greek God but just as rude as Zeus. But… no Ava, you know what happened last time. I frowned as images from the past came to my mind. I shook my head to clear the unnecessary thoughts before walking up to the main desk. The receptionist was on the phone and held up a finger, the universal sign of wait a minute. I twisted my fingers on the marble surface. The Greek God and my past was now at the back of my mind and I was now battling butterflies in my tummy. Just as I was about to turn to join the line for the other receptionist, she finished the call and turned to me.
“Hi. How can I help you?” She asked, smiling at me.
“Hi. Um, I’m here for an interview.”
Name? Oh my name. I mentally slapped myself in the face.
After a couple of clicks with the mouse and some clattering at the keyboard, she looked back up.
“Go up the elevator to the 6th floor and take the first right. There will be a waiting room. Take a seat and someone will be there to receive you shortly.”
“Okay. Thank you!” I replied before hurrying to the elevator. Once I reached the waiting room, I sat on one of the leather sofas and took out my phone.
Ellie: good luck with your interview. Ik ur gonna nail it. :D x
Ava: Thx. ly x
Ellie: ly more ❤️
I smiled and put my phone away before a message from my mum popped up.
Mum: kangaroos from australia say hello!
I grinned to myself. It was just like her to say that.
Mum: when you get this i’ll be asleep so please don’t send a message back unless you want to wake your dad up. (I put a timer to send this message. The technology these days is amazing!) I just want to say good luck and that I know you will ace the interview. Sending love and luck xxx
How did she manage to send the message? I am ninety-nine point nine percent sure that technology like this didn’t exist. I mean, for Gmail, sure but text messages? Wow. I need to get that.
Tucking my phone away, I looked around the room. One glance told me that there weren’t that many people who were applying for the position. All the better for me I guess...or not.
I closed my eyes and tried to calm my erratic heart beat and the swirling butterflies in my stomach. Heels clicked against the marble floor before coming to a stop. I opened my eyes and turned my head to face the door.
“Ava Connor?” The man asked, looking up from a slip of paper.
I stood up and took a deep breath.
“Hi. If you could follow me please, that would be great.”