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The Most Desolate Corners of the Earth
Mai stared at her feet, twisting them in odd directions because that was all she dared to do. Her mother turned the page of the magazine she was reading. Mai lightly lifted her eyes and looked at her mother?s stiff body next to her. Mai quickly refocused on her shoes and let out a deep, shaken breath.
She closed her eyes and took in the sounds of the waiting room. Music was playing somewhere in the background, mixed into the secretary typing on her laptop and answering phone calls. Her mother would occasionally interrupt the sound by turning a page in her magazine while the group of giddy girls in the corner could barely keep their conversation in a normal tone. A nervous man in the corner kept tapping his fingers against his guitar and a man with drum sticks walked around the room tapping them to a beat on every surface from the secretary?s desk to the magazine stand to the golden records on the wall.
?This is so exciting,? the giddy girls said getting louder again, ?We?re next in line to meet Jake Lepoz!?
They squealed in excitement. Mai looked up at the girls. They were older than her but still young; that wasn?t saying much considering she was only 15. They looked fresh out of college and they weren?t afraid to show themselves off.
?Did you see his picture on the cover of last month?s issue of Tomorrow Magazine?? The blond one asked.
?Uh-huh,? the red head nodded her head eagerly, ?He?s so hot.?
?Don?t forget about his great taste in music,? the brunette giggled, ?that is how he got to where he is. You know, a monopoly owner of the world?s largest music label that he started from scratch!?
They all squealed again. Mai winced. Her eyes fell on last month?s issue of Tomorrow Magazine. A very handsome, Hollywood-eske man smiled brilliantly from the cover, his blue eyes reflecting his pride.
?Shhh!? the secretary silenced the girls, ?I hope you don?t squeak when you sing for him, you can say good-bye to a signing than.?
They giggled nervously and bent their heads together.
?All he?ll have to do is look at us,? one of them said and they all giggled again.
Mai frowned and looked around the room again. The man with the guitar was more fidgety than ever and the man with the drumsticks had left the room to go throw up. Both of them were youthful and attractive if you took away the nervous air. Her mother always told her that looks are about fifty percent of the package, if not more.
Mai?s eyes fell on her mother. Her father told Mai that her mother must have been a Geisha in a past life, but Mai didn?t see it. The only thing her mother seemed to fit of that description was the nationality. It?s not that her mother wasn?t pretty, she just wasn?t anything special. Mai had seen pictures when her mother was younger, she had been pretty than, more lively; Mai blamed her mother?s soft features on teaching public high school for a good 17 years.
?Doesn?t it bother you?? Mai asked her mother softly.
?Doesn?t what bother me?? her mother asked tonelessly without looking up from her magazine.
Her mother peeled her eyes away from the magazine and looked oddly at her daughter. The giddy girls squealed again, saving Mai from spelling out her question. Both Mai and her mother winced.
The office doors of Jake Lepoz opened and the girls giggled wildly. The guitar player stopped all of his movements and slowly lost the color in his face. The drummer, who had just returned from the bathroom, turned to leave again. Mai purposefully stared at her feet. She could hear Jake Lepoz laughing with two other men before they left.
?What?s next for today?? Jake Lepoz asked his secretary.
?We are!? one of the giddy girls screamed, leaping to her feet and smacking her friends in the process.
Mai looked up from her feet and at Jake Lepoz. He was tall and well built and Mai couldn?t help but admit that he looked much better in person. Jake Lepoz looked at the girls uncertainly.
Mai?s mother stood up from her seat and crossed over to Jake Lepoz. Mai sank as far down into her seat as she could. The back of the chair pressed against her back so hard that her feet struggled to stop sliding on the floor as she attempted to press herself further into the chair. She rather be in the most desolate corners of the world than where she was now.
Sensing the movement out of the corner of his eye, Jake Lepoz turned to face her mother. His entire face lit up and he spread his arms wide in order to embrace her into a hug.
?Lydia!? he exclaimed, taking a couple steps closer to her.
Lydia didn?t say anything or make any noticeable movements. Jake Lepoz?s arms dropped to his sides at the sight of her serious face.
?What?s wrong?? he asked her in German.
?You have three guesses,? Lydia told him in Japanese.
Lydia turned and walked into his office. Jake Lepoz?s eyes fell on Mai. Mai smiled sheepishly and gave him a half-wave.
?Hey, dad,? she told him.
He frowned at her and continued in French, ?Aren?t you supposed to be in school??
Mai refocused on her feet.
?Push all my appointments back,? her father told his secretary in English, ?Mai, come on.?
Mai stared at her feet as she followed her father into his office. She heard the doors close behind her and she looked up. Her mother was looking at the panoramic view of the City of Stites. They were at the top of the skyscraper of her father?s music empire. Her mother was staring at the building across from them, Third Generation Beaudro Publications; they were good friends with the presidents from the company, although it helped that her mother?s sister, Amy, was married to one of the co-presidents.
Mai wasn?t sure if it was coincidence and luck or brilliant seduction that had caused both her mother and mother?s sister to marry the rulers of corporate empires when they had never seemed anything special to Mai. True, both of them were self-made successes, but it still made her wonder, her parents didn?t exactly have a picture perfect marriage.
Mai?s eyes gently gazed around the room. Pictures of her family were crammed into every corner. The majority of them consisted of Mai and her younger brother, Coen. Mai shook her head at her brother?s picture, he was a genius and everyone knew it, he was the child everyone was proud of, he would never be caught dead in the situation Mai was in.
?What?s wrong?? Jake Lepoz asked his wife in German.
?Aren?t we on French?? She asked him in French.
?No, I spoke French in the waiting room,? Jake Lepoz told her in Japanese.
She nodded her head. It was one of their family?s many quirks. Mai?s mother was Japanese, her father German, the Beaudro?s French, and they lived in America. All that together resulted in Mai being fluent in four languages by the age of five. To make sure no one went too long without using a language, when they talked amongst themselves they constantly switched in a pattern of German-Japanese-French; they figured they got enough practice with English on their own.
Lydia nodded her head. Jake went to stand behind his desk and placed his hand on his chair. They both turned to look at her. Mai sank down into the nearest to her more than aware that both her parents? eyes were on her.
?Do you want to tell him or do you want me too?? Lydia asked her.
Mai looked down at her feet and a long pause followed.
?She was expelled from school,? Lydia sighed.
?Again?? Jake asked, the sound of a chair scraping against the floor followed, ?This is the third school. First it was refusing to obey authority, than it was vandalism and trespassing. What did you do this time??
?I kind of, accidentally, of course,? Mai looked up into her father?s eyes, ?started a fire in the science building.?
Her father?s eyes widened and he turned to look at his wife. Lydia was standing with her back facing to them again. Jake stood up and crossed the room to her. Mai watched them carefully. Jake leaned in very close to his wife?s ear and whispered something vaguely that sounded like ?definitely your child?.
Mai shook her head, she had definitely misheard him. They were both smiling.
?What now?? Mai asked, ?Are you going to send me to some random corner in the world??
?No,? Jake answered before his wife could, ?After being expelled from your third boarding school for reckless behavior I think we should keep you closer to home.?
?What are suggesting?? Lydia spun around at him.
?That she attends Vosdel High School,? Jake said plainly.
?I don?t want to go to public school!? Mai exclaimed quickly.
?Your brother does fine, he doesn?t complain,? Jake said, sitting back down at his desk.
?I?m not Coen, stop comparing him to me,? Mai said quickly.
?We?re not comparing you to him,? Jake said defensively, ?You?re both bright kids, you just tend to be more?erratic than he is.?
?Jake, this isn?t going to work,? Lydia cut in.
?Why not?? Jake asked her.
?For one I can?t have her as a student, and she will be my student if she attends the same school that I work at.?
?I don?t want my own mother as my teacher, she?ll fail me on purpose!?
?Mai! You know that?s not true,? Lydia said sternly.
?I?m sorry I can?t be as perfect as Coen and skip two grades in math and science. I?m sorry I?m not the perfect child, but please, don?t make me go to public school.?
?What?s wrong with public school?? Lydia asked her.
?Normal people go to public school?except for Coen I guess,? Mai said.
?Stop dragging your brother into the conversation, it?s about you, not him,? Jake told her.
?There is nothing wrong with public school,? Lydia crossed her arms, ?I went to public school, your Aunt Amy went to public school, your father went to public school, the Beaudro?s??
?Woo-hoo, I?ll throw you all a party for going to public school. But I don?t want to go. Send me to the most desolate corner of the earth before you send me to public school.?
Her parents exchanged looks and Mai realized why her brother was the smarter one, he knew when to keep his mouth shut. Mai rolled her eyes and leaned her head back against the chair, she had lost the battle.
?Can we pretend we?re not related?? Mai asked her mother without looking at her.
?Gladly,? she said with a slight icy tone.
?Try and stay out of trouble this time,? her father cut in, ?Please??
Her father had always been the more reasonable one in her opinion while her mother was incredibly hard to please. That?s all Mai really wanted, for them to be proud of her, especially her mother. She acted out to get attention and it often got carried away too much. When she did, her mother finally seemed to show some sign that she existed.
Mai let out a deep breath, maybe it wouldn?t be too bad going to school with her mother, it would give her a clean slate. But they were going to pretend they were unrelated, things would never change between them.
?Mai, would you give us a minute?? Jake asked her.
Mai nodded her head and walked out of her father?s office and found the waiting room dead quite. All eyes were on her, and she realized they had been screaming at each other the entire time.