Author's note: I wrote this a while ago. It's not completely revised and the spelling and grammar may be... Show full author's note »
Chapter SixOne Year Later:
"What makes you think you are a worthy candidate for one of my employees?" Mr. Johnson asks in a deep scary voice. He squints down at me with his bushy white eyebrows burrowing over his beady eyes. I clear my throat. I'm ready for this. I know this answer. "Mr. Johnson, I know that I'm young and I know that I don't have much experience in the law force. But, I'm a hard worker and a fast learner. I'm not stubborn. I'll do whatever it is that you ask. I
He smiles a little and gets up from his seat. He walks over to the window in his closed-in office and stares out for a long while. Finally, he sighs and turns back to me. "My workers are experienced men, unlike you." I hold my breathe. He shakes his head. "I usually don't do this Mr. McKinley. But, I can see that what you say is true. You start next week. Be here at five a.m. sharp." He turns away, dismissing me. I smile and stand up. "Thank you Mr. Johnson. I won't disappoint you.” He waves me off with one hand and I'm on my way.
I stop by a bakery that serves the biggest and most delicious cinnamon rolls in all of Chicago for a self treat. I nearly skip into the bakery and I wait in the line that's backed up into the far wall. I guess everyone felt the need to either gorge themselves on pure sweetness or gorge themselves on pure sweetness for self praise of some sort. The smell of the freshly cooked bread had my mouth watering. And the almost metallic scent of the thick and absolutely sweet icing had a way of making my head spin. Finally, I'm at the front of the line and I order. The cinnamon rolls are pre-made but they are as hot as if they just left the oven.
I make my way out of the bakery. I can't wait any longer, I take a huge bite. It's gooey, tasty, sweet, and everything else I'd hope for in a pastry on this very good day. I'm heading out of the door to a busy sidewalk when I take another big bite. This time, I make the mistake in closing my eyes and I bump into someone head on. I almost drop my treat and a hot, wet substance splatters on my good jeans. The woman that I hit is in front of me is murmuring curses under her breathe. Her coffee is all down her white blouse and the tips of her strawberry blonde hair. I hurry to swallow and then say, "I'm so sorry." As many times as I could before she looked up and smiled. "It's fine." She says. "It happens rather frequently. I'm like a coffee magnet or something."
"I'll go get you some napkins." I start to turn around but she tells me that she was going home to change anyway. "At least let me buy you another cup of coffee."
She smiles and looks away, batting her eye lashes like I was asking her out on a date. Was I? I wasn't but, I guess I could. "If you want." I add, now officially making it a date.
"I'd like that."
I smile, "Today?"
She shakes her head full of hair. "I'm busy but, I'll give you my number. Do you have a pen?" I pat my pockets with one hand and they are both empty. I make a mental note to always carry a writing devise for occasions like these which happen more and more frequently nowadays. A waitress walks by from the restaurant next to the bakery we are standing in front of. I carefully steal a pen from the side of her apron that is tied around her waist without her noticing. I hand it to the girl, making myself look more clever and mysterious than I actually am. Her eyes brightened; she was clearly impressed.
"I don't have any paper." She says. "I'll just write it on your hand." I give her my hand and watch as she scribbles down her number across my palm. She handed me the pen and without another word, walked away. I look down at my hand and the name Jenna is above the seven digits. I smile and watch her as she walks off, into the crowd. I place the pen on the closest outside table to the restaurant and walk to my car, whistling a cheerful tune.
Today is October the twenty third two thousand and eight. It’s the day that I’ve dreaded since October twenty third two thousand and seven. This date never bothered me until a couple of years ago. My mother now plans surprise parties for me since I moved out. I hated surprises. All though the parties weren’t an actual surprise, since they happened once a year on the same date; it still bothered me not to know who would be there or what would take place. I shrugged off the thought and got up from bed. I took a deep breath and got ready after staying in bed all day. Mom had invited me over for a birthday dinner. I put on my kakis and dress shirt for her sake.
I drove slowly to my parents house. The house I grew up in on the western side of Chicago, I was in no hurry for the surprise party. Though this didn't count as one, really.
I walk into the house without knocking and the lights are off. Typical.
"Mom? Dad?" I call, walking in. I shut the door behind me. "Anyone home?" I was playing it up a bit. The lights turn on and people jump out of different places and scream, "Surprise!"
Big surprise, I thought. I put on my surprised face and gave my mother a hug.
"Mom, you shouldn't have."
"Oh, you know me." She says squeezing me tight. "Your nineteen now."
I smile. "That I am."
My whole family was here. My cousins Will, Brenda, Todd, and Jana. My uncle Spruce and uncle Jack. My aunt Holly was here also, she disliked me for accidentally shooting her son Todd with a be be gun when I was five. My grandfather McKinley was there and his new wife who's name I'd forgotten. My grandfather and grandmother Laurence were here too.
My friends Josh, David, and Harry were here as well. Their girlfriends Amy, Sara, and Shantell were with them. There were a few other familiar faces and some were Will's friends but, I knew none of their names.
Mostly everyone greeted me and wished me a happy nineteenth birthday. They all congratulated me on my new job. Everyone but a few of the ones I didn’t' know and my Aunt Holly. She sat in the corner the entire time and looked to be like she was pouting. She didn't want to be here.
We all talked, told a few jokes, snacked on various finger foods and then, "It's time for some birthday cake!" My mom announced coming out of the kitchen with a chocolate cake in her hands. She placed it on the coffee table in the main room. There was all ready nineteen candles in the cake.
She laughs. "Just humor me."
I sit down on the loveseat and watch as she lights the candles. "Make a wish." She says backing away. This was silly. I was nineteen for crying out loud. But, I would do it for my mother’s sake. I shut my eyes, playing it up again, and when I did I saw a face I wasn't expecting to see. It was the face of the girl I dreamed about several times before in the past. I suddenly longed for her, just to see her in the magical land of Cardinair in my dreams.
I decided I would make this wish, it sounded childish but, as I blew out the candles I did it anyway. My mom cheered. Uncle Spruce hit me in the arm. "What did you wish for?"
"You know better." My mom told him. "If he tells it won't come true." It wouldn’t come true. Unless I get extremely lucky and for this one night I could control my own dreams. I push away the thought; it was stupid to think of such a thing. Impossible, rather.
After a slice of cake I searched around for Will. He wasn't upstairs or in the garage. And when I looked for my friend Harry I realized that my other friends had left also. So I gave all the women hugs and gave all the men manly pats on the back and I left for home. The family party wasn't that bad. Not as bad as last years anyway. Last year there were tears; waterworks may be a better word for it. Only because I turned eighteen- the first year as a young adult. My mom's a sap; if that doesn't explain it, I don't know what will.
I stepped into my apartment, instantly smelling the familiar scent of leather. It is dark and I take off my jacket before turning on the light. I suddenly have a strange feeling that I'm not alone, it's in the atmosphere. I hurry to flip on the light and nearly shriek when people jump out from behind my couch, my small bar, my coffee table, and my door. They begin to laugh and I can feel my face flushing red. "Very funny, you guys." I say. "You got me." There was more laughter and Will came trotting over to me. He put one massive arm around my shoulder and said, "I had to do it, brah."
I look at the crowd seeing all of my buddies and their girlfriends. This is where my friends from the party earlier had fled to. I slap hands and fists with everyone, making my way into the kitchen filled with tightly pressed bodies. Will is close behind me. "You could have got a bigger place." I tell him over the many voices and soft, energetic music playing in the background. "Then you would have expected it. I'm not stupid, dude." I just laugh and poor myself a drink.
Everyone began to sing ''Happy Birthday'' off key and I didn't attempt to runaway like I usually would. There was no room to run. I could feel someone staring at me and when I looked I saw the strawberry blonde named Jenna from the other day. I smile at her. She mouths the word hey and I try to shove past the crowd to get to her. I came closer and before I could stand in front of her my bud Garret Francis placed a strong hand on my shoulder. "Happy birthday, man." I nod and try to get past him but he doesn't move. "Tell me what it's like turning nineteen." I look past him to Jenna. She's awkwardly standing in one place, waiting for me. "It's nice." I tell him still looking at her.
"I bet." Garret says. "I mean, you have a nice, cozy apartment. You're fixing to have a good paying job which is rare for people our age. Girls are always drooling over you." I smile at that. "Tell me, man, can anything get any better?"
I was just about to say No, they can't. When Ava's face flashed before my eyes once again. I could feel my face fall from a smile into something else. "Yes." I say, answering his question. "Yes, it could get a whole lot better." Ava. I couldn't take it anymore! I had to dream about her; to at least be near her again. I left Garret without another word and grabbed my keys from beside the door. I searched the house for Will. He was all over his girlfriend so I tapped him on the shoulder. "Yea?" He asked, somewhat annoyed. I clawed the key to the apartment off of the key chain and handed it to my cousin. "Lock up for me, will you? Then, leave the key under the rug."
"Where are you going? And you have a rug?”
"I'll be back tomorrow. Lock my door, Will." I turned around and ran through the crowd, out the door, and to my car.
I push the elevator to the top floor and went up to the roof. I lay down and shut my eyes. There she was. The perfect girl that didn't even exist. A girl I fell for in my dreams. If only she were real…