The Lumous Chronicles
A Strange ManI plopped on the bed and it sounded with a loud creak. I put my head on a pillow while I ran my fingers gently over the bed feeling cold but soft sheets. The sun's rays defiantly came through my blinds destroying their purpose of keeping it out. Most days I would mind and make a fuss about fixing it but today I was too tired and to entranced in the way the rays made the wooden floor in my bedroom glow. I was a vegetable after coming home from work and night school but I had to deal with it like anything else. I needed to take a nap before I had to go to my second job in four hours.
I shut my eyes but there was a soft glow from my eyelids that left me unable to fall asleep; the sunlight. I opened my eyes and groaned. The universe really wanted to do this to me NOW? I turned on my side causing my small bed once again making it creak and stared at the wall till I could sleep. I stayed like that for about a half an hour on the border line of sleep and consciousness till there was total blackness. I was in pure bliss until I was awaken when I heard a large crash and beeping sound.
I woke up disoriented and dizzy. My eyes were droopy and I had a headache and the beeping sound didn’t help with it either. I propped myself on my hands and whispered to myself "S***". I grabbed the covers with my hands in fists and lifted them from my tense body. I got out of the bed and ran down the hallway of my family’s small apartment. I followed the sound into the kitchen where the beeping was coming from. I saw my sister, Lydia, in the kitchen with a burnt omelet in a pan with smoke coming out of it and trying to hit the fire alarm with the broom with her other arm. If this had been on other circumstances I would have died laughing. But this was the circumstance that if we had too many noise complaints we get kicked out of the building. When she saw me a relief swept over her face but so did horror because she knew what I was going to do to her after I fixed the problem. I shoved her out of the way and took a chair to stand up on it. I lifted the lid of the fire alarm and took the batteries out of it. I turned to her to give her an agitated stare. But she returned that stare with a dumbfounded look. She realized she could have done that from the start but as usual she wasn’t a practical thinker.
"What are you doing? I told you our stove is broken! If you turn it on this will happen!" I said pointing at her burnt egg and pan to emphasize my point.
"But if you fixed it this wouldn't be a problem; besides you never said anything about it! How am I supposed to know? I'm not a freaking fortuneteller!" She screamed flailing the broom in her hand almost hitting me.
I grabbed the broom from her hand before she could poke my eye and cause me to go blind. I took it and set it down far away before I could cause her to go blind on purpose.
"Listen I'm not made out of money! I'm already at two jobs to pay for that stupid phone of yours which might I add you are on it constantly and therefore didn't listen to me when I told you about it. And this isn't the only time when you've almost destroyed this house! And did you even think? We could get a complaint from the neighbors about this noise and get kicked out and live on the streets! Tell me do you want that?" I yelled and I looked at her with an annoyed glance.
She looked like she might cry. Her big blue eyes were watery and her jaw was shaking slightly. She didn't look 16 anymore she looked more like 5 years old which made my guilt go up. Ugh, I hate when she does that. I didn't mean it; it was the lack of sleep and food, and dehydration that was talking. My sister knew our circumstances but I never really talked about it with her. She's always seen me as a super sister that never gets tired. I was a force to be reckoned with but when I do have these occasional explosions she's shocked right back to the real world and to our situation. But she really had to grow up and take responsibility. Not all responsibility but some. Like listening to me when I told her the stove was broken and not to use it.
I took a deep breath and stepped off the chair. I didn’t need fights to end my week. It was already crappy with the two jobs and the night school the last thing I wanted was to make an enemy of my sister. I took a deep breath to calm myself, "Listen I'm sorry. I'm just really tired. I didn't mean it."
She nodded but she was already silently crying. I sighed and hugged her even though she tried to rub me off. She knows she can't get away from me even though she tries. I'm a good foot taller than she is and I weigh more than her so it's hard to get away from my grip.
"I'm sorry" she said sobbing quietly into my shirt. I knew she really wasn’t sobbing over me yelling at her over the stove, she was better then that. But she was crying for our crappy situation overall. Our father was dead when they were young, when I was just eleven. Our mother has been taking care of us but she was diagnosed with cancer three years ago so she can’t do much. It was up to me to provide for the family and I did the best that any person could do.
I smiled while petting her straight brown hair. I gave her a kiss on the forehead. "It's alright it was the lack of sleep talking."
My brother walked in rubbing his eyes and yawning. He looked at us and said "What is with this PMS fest?"
I turned around looking my brother, Luke, straight in the eye (he and I were the same height but he was only sixteen, the twin of my sister) and gave him a good-hearted smack on the back of his head.
“Ow” He said rubbing his head. “It was only a joke.”
"Good morning to you too Justin Beiber."
"I told you man it's copy right. I've had this hair style way before that poser." He said running his hand through his Justin Beiber-esk hair. It was light brown and straight like his twin's.
"Honestly Luke how the hell did you sleep all through that?" Lydia asked.
He looked at her funny. "Sleep through what?"
She rolled her eyes at him.
He suddenly became aware of his surroundings. “Ugh. What is that nasty smell?” he said giving Lydia a vomit face.
“You. Who else?” She said while rolling her eyes at him again and turned around to get cereal from the cabinets.
“Ouch that hurt sis.” He said grabbing his heart dramatically.
I just silently laughed at the two of them bickering.
I took the pan from my sister's hand and told the both of them to go and eat cereal for now. I cleaned up the mess and went into my room so I could go back to sleep. When I plopped on the soft bed I looked at the clock and it was a half an hour till my next job. Ugh. So much for eight hours of sleep. I suppose I could go with only two hours of sleep. I forced myself out of bed and I quickly dressed up putting on jeans, a t-shirt, and some boots. I didn't bother to do anything with my unruly curly hair or put on any makeup because I didn’t have time. I’d rather keep the job than look semi-decent jobless. I grabbed my jacket and purse. But before I left I went into the room at the end of the hallway.
I opened the door and creaked. Inside the room was dark and musty. It smelled of vomit and death. I dreaded going into this room because it scares me every time I stepped into it but I had to see her. I looked on the bed. It was mom. She was thin and fragile looking. Respirators and machines that I didn’t understand were hooked to her. Yet she sat there reading seeming perfectly content being locked in this room all day.
“Mom?” I said when she heard me she looked up and smiled. How can she be happy? I thought to myself.
“Hi honey, come in.” She said to me. Her kind blue eyes were starring at me and they crinkled slightly when they smiled. Her straight black hair was frizzy and pulled up into a messy bun.
I stepped in the room and went over to her.
“Good morning mom.” I said grabbing her hand. It was so thin and cold. Only skin and bones…
She squeezed my hand. “Good Morning.” She said and looked at the clock. “You’re going to be late for work.”
“I’m going right now but I just wanted to see how you were doing.” I said
“I’m doing fine.” She said. She lied.
We looked at each other silently because we both knew she wasn’t doing well but she had to stay positive for the twins. She was on her death bed. Only a few weeks left the doctors said. She didn’t respond to the Chemotherapy well and we’ve tried everything. But it couldn’t be prevented. Most days she’s out of it; sitting and sleeping in her bed mumbling things. Usually at night I hear her moans coming from her room but I don’t dare open the door during those times. I can’t and she wouldn’t want me to. She doesn’t want me to see her like this and neither do I. Mother was the strong one in the family. She kept this family together when dad died. She was the one to care for us for as long as I could remember. When she had her lucid moments like this it gave me hope until I would hear her moans through the walls again.
“Mom we don’t have to do this you know if we went to—”
“Honey go to your work you’ll be late.” She said abruptly.
“Tell me how Olivia is will you? And remember to give the twins lunch money.”
I nodded and kissed her clammy forehead. “Love you mom.”
“Love you too honey.” She smiled and I smiled at her before left.
When I opened the door I found myself starring down at an old plump Asian woman who was giving me an evil pissed of stare. This was my land lady, Cindy.
“Where is your rent money this month Elita?” She yelled at me.
“I’m working on it. I’ll have it for you at the end of the week.” I said.
“That’s what you told me last week.” She said. I didn’t want to have to tell her that I used that money to buy my mothers new medication.
“No excuses. That sorry mother of yours and your entire family haven’t been paying and you’ve been disturbing my paying tenants. This was your last chance. You’ll move out by the end of this month.” She said.
“No you can’t do this.” I said pleading with her.
“Yes I can.” She said turning around but I grabbed her by the shoulder quickly.
“I said I would give you it this week and I will. So you will not kick us out.” I said and stared at her intently by squinting my eyes slightly. I could feel a slight spark in the air.
Suddenly her eyes widened and got all misty and clouded and she stuttered when she talked. “Oh…oh…okay.” She said and she turned around and walked away. Her limbs looked like that of an automation as she awkwardly marched away.
“What was that?” I heard a voice behind me.
I turned around and it was Luke.
A panic shot up me afraid he saw that but I kept cool. I didn’t try to muster up a smile or anything because I knew that would raise suspicion in his eyes. “Nothing it was just Cindy asking for the rent. Now go and get dressed for school.” I said. Something in his face told me he didn’t believe it but he said nothing and walked down the hallway to his room.
I breathed something of a sigh of relief and walked out the door.
While I was making my daily commute to the subway and on my way to work in Manhattan I couldn’t stop thinking. There was a cure for mom’s cancer and I knew it. But she wouldn’t go for it. Did she want to die? I was angry at her for not saying yes. How can she be so stupid? If she wanted to be here for the twins and to be a real mother she would have done it and saved her life. But I had to respect her wishes. We couldn’t get involved with that dark business like my father had been; it cost his life. After that Mom was adamant about me never ever taking my father’s place and never to tell my siblings about it.
When I got to the coffee shop I worked at I quickly walked into the employee room and punched my card in. When I turned around to go hang my coat I saw Olivia. She was leaning against the wall with her arms folded causally and a killer smile on her face. Her wavy light red hair was running down her back and her green eyes glinted with happiness. Oh god…
I rolled my eyes at her. “You didn’t…” I said exasperated.
She pushed off the wall and ran to me and grabbed my arms with her hands squeezing them. “I did!” She squealed.
Olivia she was my best-friend and she worked here too. We’ve known each other since we were little kids. Her father is in the same business mine was. That was the only part of that life I was able to keep when my mother ostracized the family. She knew my family’s standing on the business so she never mentioned me going into it or even mentioned it at all.
“You always do this! You break up with Clyde because he cheated on you and said you’ll find another man. And then you do find another man. Then Clyde gets jealous and all romantic and asks you to come back and that he’ll never cheat on you again and you take him back.” I said
Her eyes get sad and a bit angry. “I believe in him this time. I saw him. He didn’t shave, eat, or sleep for days. He couldn’t live without me and he was all broken and sad and you’re just jealous because—”
I gently take her hands away from my arms and say “I don’t want to do this Ollie. I just had a break down in my house this morning. You date him if you want to.”
She gave me an understanding look. “Okay, I’m sorry.” Like I said she knows my whole situation.
I give her a slight smile and say “Okay. So tell me about what he did this time.”
She smiles and starts talking while I hang my coat and put on my apron. I walk into the front of the shop and start taking inventory while she blabbers on this ridiculous story about how Clyde sent her a message to come to the roof top and how there was a romantic dinner set up and an airplane wrote out in the sky “I was an idiot forgive me”. She really is a sucker to romance I thought to myself. I kept this thin smile and nodded at her even though I wanted to burst out laughing at the cheesiness of it all.
“Oh and I want you to come out with me tonight with Clyde.” She said smiling.
I gave her a look. “No way, I will NOT be a third wheel.”
“No you won’t. I mean a double date.” She said
“But I don’t have a…oh no you didn’t” I said giving her a dirty look.
She rubbed it off and pleaded “Please. One of Clyde’s friends is visiting town and he’s looking to meet someone.”
“Do you even know what he’s like?” I asked.
“Um…not really. I’ve never met him. All I’ve heard is that he works closely with Clyde’s family and they’re…childhood friends.” She said trying to word it right but I understood the true meaning she tried to cover up.
“I told you I do not associate myself with those kinds of people.” I said. I was washing dishes and was trying to restrain myself from splashing her with soap.
“May I remind you that you are one of those people and that having one date with someone your kind doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be thrusted back into that world.” She said.
Damn. She got me there. She might not show it but Olivia can be smart when she wants too and when she is it annoys the hell out of me. “I don’t want to go.” I said.
“Please” she said in a really small childish voice while giving me the puppy glance.
I sighed furiously and said yes which caused her to jump up and down squealing at which that point everyone in the shop was starring at us and I wanted to go into a ditch and die.
My boss, Mike walked over and eyed the both of us. “You can’t yell like that in the store! Is there a problem here?”
Olivia batted her eyes and said “I’m sorry Mike it was me.”
Mike had a huge crush on her and if he didn’t she would have been out of this job a long time ago. She used him to her advantage getting more breaks and days off and occasionally helped me get extra days off to go to doctor’s office with my mother. She wasn’t totally useless.
His tanned face lightly turned pink and his eyes were glowing with admiration but he couldn’t let his crush on Olivia turn him into a softy so he said sternly “Okay I’ll forgive you this time but don’t let it happen again.”
“I won’t.” She said smiling at him and walked away to go man the cash register.
I looked over at Mike. “Why don’t you just ask her out?”
Mike was handsome with tanned skin and muscle. He had wavy black hair and gorgeous hazel eyes. He was a bit older than us but then again Clyde was five years older than Olivia. He was smart, kind, and very understanding. Mike was perfect for her but she was too caught up with the beast (which I call Clyde occasionally) to really see that he was the perfect guy.
He gave me a hopeless look. “Elita, you know I’ve tried but she keeps running to that bastard of a boyfriend.”
I nod at him. “At least you don’t have to be forced to go on double dates with them.” I said darkly; I was thinking about how tonight’s is going to go.
He laughs and said “I’ll take the dishes from here you go man the cash register.”
I thanked him. At least when I get to interact with customers it will get everything out of my head for a couple of hours.
The rest of the day I took orders and made coffee. I looked at the clock. Yes! It’s only five minutes away till my lunch break. The things I hate about working at a coffee shop is that you smell like coffee beans even if you shower a million times and that there are people that come in and order their coffee really fast speaking coffee language and think they are superior than you. I looked at my next costumer and knew he was going to be one of those people. He had dark sun glasses even though it was dark and rainy outside. He wore a pea coat and had leather Italian shoes with nice dress pants (probably like $100 or more). He had good looks like a model. He had high cheek bones with messy long brown hair. His hair looked tousled but in the European model sort of way. I saw all the girls, even the geeky girls who’ve been on their computer all day look at him and gawk at his beauty. I immediately noticed he was really tall. Taller than me considering I was five feet and ten inches and he was about a foot taller than me which caused me to crane my neck when I looked at him.
“Hello sir what would you like to order?” I said and faked my best politician smile.
He took off his glasses and I had to stop myself from gasping when I saw his eyes. A thousand memories flooded my brain causing a sharp pain to enter in my stomach. I felt my eyes getting hot and my fists start to clench at my sides. I was going to throw up or start crying in the store. They were the darkest and the brightest shade of green ever like tree leaves in the summer. They were the same shade of green like my father...like them…
“I’ll take a vanilla cappuccino. Make it a large and put an extra shot of caffeine with foam.” He said. His voice was running your hands on silk; smooth and beautiful and regal. He had a slight French accent which added to its demeanor.
I punched it in the cashier while trying to reduce the shaking of my hands. I looked at him and I could tell by the look of his eyes he knew what I knew about him. He sized me up taking in everything about me. I was going to tell him knock it off but I didn’t want to say anything. I was just going to take his order and that would be the end of it. I quickly went to the coffee machine and started making his order. I was happy that the coffee machine was placed in the store were I could have my back turned to the costumer.
I gave him his drink and faked the best politician smile I could muster up with my emotional state right now. “Here you go sir that will be $3.75”
He smile at me and gave me a ten. “Keep the change.”
I took the bill. I looked at it and a small message popped out of it glowing a defiant green on the bill.
Meet me at Cleopatra’s needle during your break.
“What do you want?” I asked whispering.
He gave me a slight smile. “You’ll see.”
“How do I know you’re not a cereal killer or a rapist?”
“Now that I can’t tell you. Just go with your instincts Elita.” He said with a wink and turned and walked away.