By: V.L. Brock




“Shit, I’m late!” Untangling myself from the divine softness and warmth of my comforter, I hastily kick it to the foot of the bed before leaping out with the agility of an Olympic hurdle athlete.

Through the dense haze of sheer panic and disorientation, I stagger to my en-suite through the bottom right archway of my bedroom to take care of my needs, stumping my toe on the wooden bedstead along the way.

Dammit! I can’t be late, not today. Not on my first fucking day. This is just typical of you, Samantha Kennedy, I chide myself.

Fragments of last night’s happenings tantalize my mind’s eye, as I hollow my hands into the icy water in the washbasin and lift it up to my face. Alcohol flowing…deafening music…leading the tall guy sporting a buzz cut into the restroom…hands…mouths…the beating of my back knocking against the stall-wall––yep, I think it is safe to say I will not be showing my face at Dave’s Bar again.

You haven’t a choice in the matter, Samantha, my subconscious sneers. I snigger with the twisted form of excitement, thrill and triumph as I recall staff personnel interrupting us just as buzz cut was setting my feet back upon the tiled flooring, and then getting escorted from the premises with the final words of ‘you’re barred’ haunting my mind in a form of victory.

Why? I have no idea, but I take great pleasure knowing that I can cause upheaval through my actions.

Searching blindly, I finally seize the hand towel from the railing on my left and rid my face of the cold beads of water as they trickle down my skin. The cloud of confusion lifts, only to be replaced with alarm and dread as I gaze in shocked-horror at the pale woman in the vanity staring back at me. Her usual shiny, long, wavy auburn hair that tumbles down past her breasts is substituted with uncontrollable and frizzy, wayward tresses that could rival the hairdos in an 80’s music video.

Oh, for fuck sake. I hang my head. It always comes in three’s, I’m running late and my hair looks like it’s been backcombed by a much worse can this morning possibly get? I make a silent vow that last night will be the last time I choose shower and climb into bed, instead of reaching for the hairdryer again.

Okay, there is no time for straightening irons…improvise, Samantha.

I reach for the top draw of my bathroom unit. Rustling through the accumulation of shit I have stored, I fish out my hairbrush and a clip. Hastily assaulting my frizz-ball hairdo, I pull my locks back into a ponytail, before twisting and clipping it up, allowing the tips to cascade over the accessory. Checking either side for defiant tendrils, I hurl the hairbrush onto the countertop and return to my room.

I may have took a risk last night in going out––and the shenanigan’s you happened to perform, my subconscious adds––but thank the heavens I listen to that rational part of my mind, and laid my outfit ready. I shimmy into a black, high-waist pencil skirt, tucking my white blouse into it before raising the zipper at my side. I step into my black peep-toe, heeled pumps that stand waiting under the white and purple chaise longue beneath my window.

Being the sort of woman who would be late to her own funeral, I push my luck with my growing tardiness and find time between each rapid passing minute to apply my usual face-full of cosmetics, and then collect my purse from beneath my white dresser. Propping it on the lilac pillow of the dressing stool, I delve into the sizeable compartment in a frantic search for my belongings.

“Shit, where are my keys?” clutching my purse, I leave my bedroom and rush down the corridor, through the dining room and into the kitchen.

I desperately search high and low, checking in the cupboards and on the breakfast bar. Failing to find them, I hurry into the living room and begin tossing the red velvet couch pillows haphazardly off the couch in a quest to find the missing car keys.

“Where are you, you stupid things?” I groan through clenched teeth, the time-consuming task at hand provoking my already exasperated state.

“Really, Sammy…? You would totally freak out one day if they answered you back! Have you tried looking in the key bowl?” Jessie wanders sleepily from the corridor that houses her bedroom, with her night gown wrapped securely around her body. She rubs her eyes to remove any remnants of sleep as she passes the rectangle archway that divides the living room and dining room, over to the kitchen for her morning coffee. Her usual straightened, glossy brunet hair is replaced with a matted up-do.

I skirt the beech veneer coffee table, and step over the cushions that lay scattered in disarray on the hardwood flooring. Sinking my hand into the red, glass, key bowl in the center of the fireplace, I hastily snatch my keys out, and kiss the hand that they now reside in.

I release a facilitated sigh and begin to reel in the tone of my breathy, flustered voice which is tarnished with palpable relief. “Thanks, Jess, you’re a star.”

Occupying one of the white stools at the breakfast bar, she wraps her long fingers around a warm cup of coffee. “So, where are you going today, Sammy, medical center? Dog walking? Oh, I know, psychics assistant?” she probes with ill-disguised amusement, her full, pink lips subtly curling upward.

“You know, some people don’t necessarily know what they want to do after school, Jess.”

I’ve always felt disheartened by the knowledge that Jessie has never had a problem deciding what career she wants to pursue. She’s always wanted to help people, offer them a sympathetic ear and dig deeper into overcoming hurdles and obstacles that they may face in their life––to gain purpose, steer people in the direction they want their life to go, but don’t necessarily know how. I hold no reservation that she will make a great counselor.

I on the other hand, am a log, floating down the Mississippi River, allowing the current to steer me through my life.

“But, Sammy, exactly how long are you going to keep doing these temp jobs for? You’re well educated, you’re a qualified photographer, you could make a living doing something that you love, yet you continue to…you know what, I have no idea what you are doing, but either way, you’re not enjoying any of the positions they have put you in. And to be honest, some have been damned right degrading.” Her voice is laced with concern and exasperation. She scrutinizes me with large, emerald eyes, taking full advantage of my inability to lie to her, especially when she gives me the don’t-lie-to-me-I-do-know-what-you’re-thinking look that she is burning into me at this precise moment.

“Look, Jess. I know that you care, but right now, I am late, too late to go into this conversation. I promise we will talk about it later.” Snatching my purse from off the sofa, I stroll towards my roommate, and encircle my arms around her neck, before heading for the apartment door.

With my hand perched on the doorjamb, I turn on my heel.

“And to answer your first question, it’s a receptionist job at a law-firm. So no, there will be no dog-walking today.” I can’t stifle the huge grin of self-satisfaction prancing its way across my face, and feeling an unaccustomed feeling of pride and eagerness about this one. Jess is right; there have been some horrendous jobs.

“Oh, a mature position, well done, sweetie,” she mutters over the rim of her cup. “See you later. Have a good day.”

I quickly poke my tongue out at her, twist the doorjamb, and raise my right arm in the air to offer a weak wave goodbye, and then I’m out of the door with butterflies in my stomach. Jess is right, this is my first grown up job and above anything––I just hope I make a good impression.

I reach my destination at exactly, 8.50 a.m., God I am so lucky that I only live a ten minute drive away. I park my sea blue, Honda Fit in the underground parking lot of The Stalwart Tower. Checking my hair in the rear-view mirror, I make sure that I look presentable, and tuck a stray tendril of auburn hair behind my ear, smack my lips together, and grab my purse from the passenger seat. Exiting the warmth of my car, I step into the unnerving, echoing of the darkened lot which is only illuminated by faint, golden lights surrounded by metal crates, secured on the dreary walls, and promptly head to work.

There is only one word to describe Stalwart Tower––grandiose. With mirrored glass and sliver construct, the pipeline structure soars high above the neighboring buildings, virtually piercing through the waning San Francisco fog. Tilting my head back as far as my neck will allow I gaze up at it magnificence. It’s extraordinary what creativity fills people’s minds to design such things. I climb the three steps at the entrance and brush aside the surprisingly heavy glass door.

Awe-struck, I stand in the tower and gape. The sheer exquisiteness of what should just be a normal entrance is more like a foyer of a five star luxury hotel. A round, white marble desk is situated in the center, indisputably dominating the area of a quite frankly, intimidating ground floor lobby.

There are four elevators in total, two on the right of the main reception desk and two on the left. The high-rise ceiling is adorned with a beautiful chandelier which takes pride of place, illuminating the lobby with just the right amount of light, which is needed for this dark, miserable fall morning.

As I make a beeline for reception, I become increasingly aware of the shrill noise my stilettos make as they click and clack against the polished, white tiled flooring. I must wear flat shoes, I secretly scold myself. The echo in the vast foyer caused by my shoes, adds to my already gradual upsurge of anxiety. I focus directly on the floor whilst I make my way over to the desk, striving to hide my identity as the embarrassment of my gaudy interruption of the prior quietness causes a generous blush to creep over my cheeks my cheeks

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