Up on the fifteenth level of upper east side the walls of corner office 112 held an important individual. A stature tall as the 305 level building, piercing eyes the colour of golden sunset with a potholed chin dimple sat Wes Newton triumphantly. You see Wes had beaten the odds to get to this stage of his life. It was only a dream for many to own a corner office, for many who trod the journey from Iowa to downtown Manhattan. Yet still Wes with a keen eye and sharp mind had managed to beat the odds.
“Greta had it coming to her. We were both clear at the beginning of what it was”, Wes quietly muttered to himself. “Nadine, sweet Nadine, Greta’s ‘to be continued’ put up a decent fight”, he recalled. The best candidate for the job won as far as he was concerned. There was no need to brood over the losses. He fought fair and square. “It’s only work after all”, Wes from the west side tried to justify to himself.
Wes’ reverie on what a corner office represented to him was cut short by the familiar voice of his secretary. Laila was a fine spirited young lady with a unique laughter that set others off laughing with her. She was her mantra, life is to be lived, and her mantra was her. “Anything else you’d like me to do for you?”, she asked interrupting his thoughts once more. “That will be all, Laila. Have a good evening”, he replied. As she left, Wes wondered if he would ever feel carefree as she did. The glazing would have to do. Looking out from his window, head almost touching the ceiling, he wondered, yearned to experience the kind of love, genuine love Laila radiated to all those around her. Cubicle 2 wouldn’t matter one bit to the aura he felt off Laila which he was sure others felt too.
Ariel, Sanchez and Kwame had just come out of their prep exams or mock exams as you’d have it. “Guys, am tired out burning the midnight candle. Am off for a snooze”, Kwame said. “Make that two”, came the voice of Sanchez. “What about you Ariel. Isn’t your beauty sleep calling?”, teased Kwame. “Nah, I have a brief visit to the course director’s office. See you lads”. Miss Caroline was a very proper woman. Nothing was out of place on her personhood or office. She never seemed unnerved. “Tap”, came the timid knock of Ariel. “Come on in Ariel. I have been expecting you”, said Miss. soothing voice. “How are you Ariel Yohannes?”, the ditector asked. “Am good”, replied the other twitching in her seat beside the director. “You sure? I am here for you. I can’t help but notice your black-outs in class and in the hallway sometimes. I have also been told you go into a blank stare as if you are far away often in class mumbling God knows what.” “You are in a safe place, Ariel to talk about what’s bothering you”, she added. At first hesitant, Ariel looked into the trusting eyes of Miss Caroline and started to unwrap her past pains, hurts, disappointments. Here sat one who wouldn’t take advantage of her. Her soul, o her soul would find rest at last...
You are quintessentially special,
Isabel Larry stood at the crossroad of Pearle Street and Dudley Road. She walked the four mile journey. She had to. She couldn’t breathe in the tram any longer. Why would she stay in the tram anyway. She couldn’t control her tears. They were just falling off her fake lashes unto her lace collared, plum mid-length dress. Her makeup was all smeared. A sight to behold. All the tortuous words came back to her while she waited at the crossroads. “You good for nothing girl. Just like your couch-potato father, you will never amount to anything in this life”, she heard her grandmother’s angry voice with her mother passively looking on seemingly giving her silent agreement to Nanna. And what had she done? “I only failed the nursing entrance exam”, she mumbled to herself. “Well, this would be the fifth attempt”, she continued her self-talk. How could her mother and Nanna say all those hurtful things about her, about her father. They already knew the music teacher had thrown her out of the session singing group with the remark, “never try to sing in public, you are just awful” and now this.
What would she do? What could she do? “Taxi, taxi”, she was near screaming. A black taxi pulled up sharply next to her probably surprised at her shrieking hailing noise. “Take me to the Nursing Entrance Board”, she said authoritatively. With a silent nod the driver spinned the car around and drove to the destination.
“Hello, how can I help you? We are about to close so you have to be quick”, said the receptionist. “Can I have registration forms for the entrance exam next term?”, said Isabel. Holding the admission papers in her hand, Isabel made a commitment to herself, “I am good for something and I will prove it to myself”.
Yasmeen waited at the edge of the road. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting for a car to pass by so she could catch a ride back into town. She looked behind her to see if she'd zipped her backpack properly. She loved her golden brown backpack which she'd got as a gift from her uncle for her twenty first birthday. Her backpack had inner linings and pockets. She thought the brown tassels hanging on the zippers looked really good.
Twenty minutes, fifty minutes, still no car on the road. "If only I had listened to am w 'ab I would have spared myself this lonely waiting", she was thinking. Another two hours in the hot sun and her make-up would melt. "There's no shade and I am afraid", she started to think and worry. "What am I going to do", she questioned herself. "I don't want to collapse", she thought with a worried face. "I am thirsty and I feel vulnerable", she said out loud.
She sat on a stone and put her backpack on her knee. She didn't want it to get dirty. "Is that a car I hear?", she jumped up. Yes it was. In fact they were two cars, one a cardillac and the other a normal saloon. The driver of the cardillac stopped just a few minutes from her. "Can I drop you somewhere?", he asked stretching over to open the passenger door. She accepted his invitation and started walking towards the driver. "The other car is my work car and it will follow us just like you have your backpack following you", he said trying to joke.
Thank goodness that by mercy she'd received this lift to take her to town. She would never again drive off to her friends with little gas.
You are quintessentially special,
Melody was very excited about the Arts and Craft 'fest opening soon at the City Centre. To top it off Curtis had grudgingly committed himself to coming with her this year only. "Honey, you will love it", she said. "I am only going because of you", he commented planting a tender kiss on her left cheek.
The day of the A and C Festival was finally here. "Hurry up Mel. We are going to be late. I want to secure a parking spot quite close to the entrance", Curtis called out to her upstairs. "Just a second", came the reply from upper. "I need to dress the part". It took a further fifteen minutes before Mel appeared in the narrow stairway dressed in a flamboyant, brightly coloured skirt she'd purchased on their last holiday. "How do I look", she inquired? "Like you always do - fine", came the curt response of her husband. "Now let's get going", he again remarked.
The fest this year involved both locals and other traders from neighbouring cities. They passed beautiful artisan works, hand-made doilies made of resin and other materials and many more wonderful delights. "Curtis was there to stop her impulse buying", Melody thankfully thought to herself. They spotted a stall with masses of people haggling for the wares. Curtis strolling behind Mel came face to face with a beautiful tapestry. He was transfixed. He wasn't one for such flimsy purchases but he liked the look of it. "Mam, can I pay for this tapestry"? He pointed to the cloth. Mel trying to hide her surprise stood face to face with him, "but honey we said we'd agree on purchases. Moreover, we don't even know how much it is and I don't think we need it". "It doesn't go with our colour scheme", said she. "I really like the look of it. Allow me to have it", he spoke to her in a gentle manner with pleading eyes. Her husband being keen on the item left but one thing to do. Pay for it which she did.
Curtis stared at the tapestry cloth on the opposite side of their fireplace. The glow of the fire showed out its beauty. The intrinsic designs, interwoven threads could be no other than a master craftsman. The detail. As he looked at the cloth longer each work in it reflected his life of pain - when he was left at the foster home, of disappointment - when he lost out on the deal, of hurt - when his best friend died, of sleepless nights and muffled cries - when he felt less than a man in so many ways.
He now understood why he was drawn to the fabric in the first place. It reminded him of his struggles. He particularly liked the interwoven threads in it of purple, gold, hues of cerise, cardinal colour blocks interspersed with pigments of chestnuts.
You are quintessentially special,
"Let's round up. Roll call", said Mark the team leader. He called all the names of the 27 expedition members. All were present. "Now for the pre-arrival information", Mark continued. "We are to meet each morning for the daily briefings. As you know, there are group schedules for some of the days. You are free to roam about when we are not exploring as a group. For your own safety, wander off in twos". The group then boarded the plane en route to Peru. For the next week they would be exploring the Peruvian landscape. Most particular they liked the planned tour through the deep Amazonian forest.
After a considerable long flight the Nature Expeditions group reached Lima. They all settled into their pre-paid accommodation and were let off for the night to their own devices. Georgiana and her three childhood mates, Laura, April and Nadine were among the 27. They'd saved up for the last three years for this trip. This would be one of their last trips for a while as they wanted to establish a career and for Nadine start a family."April, Laura, Georgiana come see the night sky", said Nadine. It's just gorgeous. The local Indians found them amusing as they were taken with the music and their bright clothing.
The following day, they had the morning off as it were. After the briefing the trio decided to have a sneak peek of the mouth of the forest. Off they went. Taking pictures, taking in the sometimes unfamiliar sounds and loving this untouched part of the planet. At one point, April wandered off absentmindedly taking in the diverse plants. As a horticulturist, she was just fascinated. She came back though not before Laura yelled her back to reality.
The fourth day had finally come. This was the grand tour of the treasures that lay in the deep, deep forest. Chloe another traveller had mentioned that there were real locals who lived in the forest. The girls hoped they'd reach that place before having to turn back. Off they went in their formed cliches. "Mark, Mark", April is no where to be seen", came the high shrieks and fear-stricken faces of Georgiana, Laura and Nadine. Mark asked the group to wait and went with the girls to the place. "April, April", they yelled out. No sound. It had just gone 8pm and Mark had decided to call it a day before he was given the news. The night was coming on thick and fast. The rest of the group went back to the city to seek help. Mark and the three girls searched for the next three hours. Then Mark said, "ladies we have to get back and let the trained locals who know the terrain help us with the search.
Laura, Georgiana and Nadine cried hysterically and refused to leave the spot.
For one, they would do whatever it took. "April, April", they yelled on top of their lungs. "It's no use", Mark said. "We tried", he added. They were stubbornly fixed to the spot. They looked behind trees. Then they heard a frail sound from behind a rock near the river. In a rush, all four were there. There behind the large rock was April, shirt caught by the sharp edge of the rock, bleeding on her right arm. Thankfully she was conscious.
For one, her friends persisted and rescued her.
You are quintessentially special,
Nan Hatfield sat in her old recliner on her yellow porch overlooking the fields. She had taken this scene in many times but each day had its own beauty. She couldn't have asked for a more tranquil surroundings. It was just pure heaven on earth. The house would not be a home without the frequent visits of her grandchildren. She recalled when April the oldest did the April Fool's joke on her scaring her in the middle of the night wearing her wig, favourite robe and dentures. Then there was Eddie. "Her Eddie", she called him. He was off to pilot training in the next couple of months. Eddie was a spitting image of John in his younger years. She secretly enjoyed his company the most. Then there was little Gerald and the newly born Theodore from her fifth child. The family was getting bigger. She loved them all and always looked forward to their visits. Today would be no different. Edward Hatfield was coming to visit her. "My Eddie is coming home", she smiled to herself like a chipmunk. She'd pulled out all the stops: the cordial, homemade scones and jam and clotted cream.
Honk, honk came the familiar sound of Eddie's saloon car. First, frantic waves and then a shout, "hi gramps". "Looking good out here". At 26, Eddie was doing well for himself. He was studying to be a pilot. He'd saved a bit to afford his own house and he was mentoring younger boys downtown. Just like his grandpa he had what Violet Hatfield called the "swooning dimple" on his chin. So called because it caused the ladies to turn. His jet black hair and casual jacket finished off his look. "A dashing young man, my Eddie", she thought as he climbed the porch stairs two by two. "Gramps, what's for tea? Am starving", said Eddie. "The tray is already set up inside with your goodies. Help yourself", she replied. With two strides Eddie was inside the hours. An hour later and there were no crumbs on the plates or tray. Gran enjoyed hearing about how Eddie passed his days. "Gran, something strange happened the other day. I was doing some grocery shopping when I bumped into this elderly woman. On bumping into her, her face was fixed to the can she was looking at. Seemed liked she was reading the nutritional content. When she looked up at me she froze. I couldn't think why though. I quickly muttered my apology and left thinking nothing of it. From the way she looked at me you'd think she knew me. Some strange people in the world", he remarked. Gramps listened intently without any show of emotions.
Mr Edward Hatfield? "Sign here please", said the courier delivery guy. He'd been woken up to sign for a letter. "Who from?", he thought. With heavy eyes he opened the letter to see a search by the adoption services and from what he could make out his birth grand mother wanted to re-connect. "This must be a joke", he thought. His fiancée was fond of jokes so she could have been playing such an expensive joke on him. "Only one way to find out", he said to himself. "Debs, can you hear me? Don't play such jokes on me", he said. "Eddie, I don't know what you are on about but I haven't played a joke on you for a while", responded Debs. Eddie although in his morning robe started to feel shivers all over his body. "Let's talk later. I need to be somewhere to make head and tail of a letter I have just received", he replied. Hurriedly he put his cell down and dressed as quickly as he could.
"For God sakes what time do they open", he spoke out to no one in particular. He was in there like a bolt as soon as the clerk unlocked the doors to the adoption agency. "How can I help?", said the clerk unconcernedly. "I received a letter from you and I need to speak to someone urgently about it", said Eddie. "Come this way", responded the clerk. In a few minutes he found himself face to face with the manager. "Mam, can you explain why you sent me such a letter", he said trying to speak calmly. "Mr. Hatfield the long and short of it is your birth grand mother is looking to reconnect. She wrote to us a few weeks ago to help her find you as she thought she'd seen you at Hilda's grocery. We therefore wrote to you". Eddie recalled the old woman who stood frozen. "Wait a minute lady. Is this a scam? I have a grandmother", said he. "What do you mean about a birth grandmother", he asked hoping the answer would be what he wanted to hear. "Mr Hatfield, you are your grandfather's son but not Ms. Violet's. Your maternal grandmother signed off your care to your grandpa at a time when she was severely depressed and couldn't take care of you. Ms. Violet came into your fathers' life a couple of years later and has loved you as her own", said the manager. "It's your choice if you want to reconnect with your birth grandmother", said the adoption manager in addition. Eddie thanked the manager and started walking to the door. "I will think about it", he said. " I am not ready now. It's a lot to take in".
"Gramps, we need to talk", Eddie softly said as he walked quietly on tothe porch. Violet knew the time had come.
"Eddie, whatever your decision I will respect it. Edward, no matter what you will always be my Eddie", said Violet.
"Now I will tell you what happened", she said...
You are quintessentially special,
Savannah Rothschild saw her reflection in the lake. She had driven to the quiet spot after she'd had enough. She couldn't cope any longer. Should she jump? Was it head in first or feet. Wait, "I think am suppose to leave a note with a message", she muttered to herself. "No need. They all know the reason why", she stopped her thoughts. Anyone would be surprised at seeing such a well put together woman drive down to the lake and think such thoughts. Luckily for her there was no one in sight to ask questions or stop her in her tracks. "I am spent. I don't have anything else to give. They've rung me dry and they still want more" was the recorded messages playing in her head.
She edged forward to the edge of the still, sea blue lake that went on for miles. The weight of what she was about to do weighed on her. Every step now felt like lead. With a huge sigh she jumped into the cold lake feet first. She had never learned to swim and she was glad of it this very day. She started going down throwing her hands and legs hysterically in all directions and gulping a sizeable portion of lake water.
"Mum, mum", called out her teenage son, Derick. "Dad and I are home. What's for dinner?" No answer. Derick speedily went upstairs to find his mother. She could be reading 'Gardener's Weekly' as she did most evenings in the hall. No mum. "Mum?", called Derick again moving between the bedrooms, the pantry and backyard. "Dad, did mum say she'd be out this evening?", asked Derick of his father. "Not that I can recall, son", responded Wayne. "Have you checked the voice messages?", asked Wayne. "Yes dad and there are none", answered Derick. "That is so unlike your mother". "Help me unload the weekly groceries", Derick's father said to him. The two Rothschild men had started to worry. Five hours later at 10.30 in the evening and no sign of Savannah. Her phone was going straight to voicemail. "Dad, do something. Mum could be in danger", came the voice of a concerned son. Wayne got up from his fav leather chair and started pacing the floor thoughtfully...
"My word", said Bernard Lucas. It is very unlike Savannah to miss Book Club. "Since I joined two years ago she's always been present getting here before everyone else and making us hot chocs and choc cookies after each meeting. I was sold on that more than joining the club", Bernard added. "Did she contact any of you to let you know she'd miss today? asked Savannah's assistant Terry. "No", came the chorus from the other 7.
Wayne rushed to the phone as it began to ring as did Derick. "Hello, Savannah?", he said before even finding out who was at the other end. "Wayne, its Mel", came the familiar voice of Savannah's one and only close friend. Am concerned about Sav. She's missed our games night six times in a row now. Each time she gave one excuse or other, Thank God you picked the phone up as I was hoping it would be you. Are things alright between the two of you". "Of course they are Mel", came the confident voice of Wayne. "Savannah is not home. Derick and I didn't come to meet her. No note, no voicemail. In fact I was going to call you but from the sounds of it you don't know where she is either", Wayne said into the receiver.
"Dying is frightening", Savannah thought in a flash. She knew she was drowning. The faces of all her family and friends flashed before her. The same faces that had sapped all the life out of her with their demands and needs. Just then she caught a lifeboat from the corner of her eye. Why was she waving? She wanted to die but wave some more she did. Her light green five pound scarf which for a moment was strangling her became the torch by which she would be spotted as she waved it with all her might. The man in the boat first heard her cries and then saw the scarf. Within seconds he was at her side holding her hands and helping her climb the boat. She was saved. Saved! But from what to what?
She'd wanted to die to end it all. To end a life she'd poured out. She was the gift that kept on giving with no one to replenish her. She was tired, worn out. While lying flat in the boat she realised dying wasn't the answer. The answer was to say no when she needed to say no and not feel bad about it. The answer was to allow others to put back into her. The answer was to set healthy boundaries. She didn't want to die. She wanted to live. Live for the people that mattered most to her in such a way as to keep giving and still have reserves
You are quintessentially special,
Menissa Sohail twirled around in her new acquisition. Although not ostentatious she loved every bit of her vintage floral frock with lace trimmings. It wasn't the latest fashion but to her it was everything she'd dreamed of. It meant so much to her because she had been saving a bit each month to be able to afford it. She'd sacrificed a lot for this dress. She took another turn full circle."I should take it off, really", she said in her heart. "I won't be wearing it anytime soon", she said. She carefully took it off sleeve by sleeve and then the full dress. She lay it carefully in its wrapper and placed it carefully in her wardrobe.
"Hello, is that Miss Sohail", said the voice at the other end of the receiver. "You are due a free upgrade and the latest tablet could be yours. Would you like us to apply it to your account?" "No", came Menissa's reply. "Perhaps another time", then she hang the phone up.
"Menissa want to go to the training together? It's free you know", came the voice of Clara her office colleague. "Another time maybe", she half-heartedly said. She was comfortable where she was in her professional life. She wasn't ready to strain herself.
"Hello pretty lady", whispered a voice from behind her and her friend Elsie. "Sohail, he's talking to you", remarked Elsie. "In fact he's been vying for your attention for decades. Aren't you at least going to give him a chance?" "Elsie, it's my business and I will handle my business in my own way", retorted Menissa. She lazily turned half way to face Noah and uttered a barely audible hello and turned away. "Menissa, Menissa, he won't be around forever you know. He is so into you and I know you. When you don't give eye contact I know you also like him. Give him a chance at least", Elsie insisted. Not a peep from Menissa.
"Menissa, your mother and I are going on our lifelong dreamed cruise. Do you want to join us?", her dad extended the hospitality. "No dad. I could be sea sick or worst still lose my luggage along the way", she replied.
"Why all these excuses, 'Nissa. I have watched you miss good opportunities. I have seen you sabotage yourself." Now is the time to start living. Now is the time to start dressing the way you want. Now is the time to give love a chance. Now is the time to accept help from others. Now is the time to live the life you want. Now is the time to live the dream. Now is the time baby girl. This is your time. This is your hour. Put it off no longer".
You are quintessentially special,
Amelia Lewis had said it all. Slippery like ice how could she take back the words she had spoken to her husband. She could see from his eyes that it had cut deep like wound in his soul. It wasn't her fault that he had been laid off and had sunk so low in his moods. She wasn't to blame for his disinterest in daily activities nor for sleeping so much. He needed to take it like a man and handle it. His family needed him. She needed him. She didn't want to take his place. She wanted to help and keep her place as a woman. "Now that Charles is acting up, I guess I have to be the man and the woman". Why wouldn't he open up to her? She was there to help. He was so far and yet so close. Many times the conversations went something like this, "Charles, am here for you. I can see you are hurting with all that's gone on. Please talk to me. I am here for you. I have your back". Each time Charles just stared at her with an empty look and nodded. Her patience was being tested to the brim. She had kept quiet for 9 months. Last night she couldn't keep quiet anymore. Charles had overlooked the Council Tax after three reminders. Now, the bailiffs, or to use their technical term, the enforcement agents, would be paying them a visit tomorrow.
"Charles, you good for nothing man". she barked. "I said yes to you all this while and where has it got me! Nowhere, nowhere". "Moping about the house like a sick puppy. When will you put yourself together and act like a man for once in this marriage". Amel knew the moment those words came out she could never retrieve them back. She saw the fire in her husband's eyes go out - suddenly. "What have I done?", she remarked to herself. Then Charles spoke for the first in 9 months, "Amelia, the wife of my youth. It is true that I have been out for the last few months. Sorry for letting you bear the burden of being the provider. It is also true that I have protected and provided for you in the past. 7 years to be exact. Through the good and bad I have shouldered everything. While you slept I thought. I thought deep for your well-being. I have never had to brag about the shelter I provide you. Howbeit that my wife whom I chose above all else would throw the last punch when I am down. Blowing out the last rays of light. You do the math - 7 years to 9 months." With that Charley babe as she fondly called him turned his back on the bedroom and started walking away. "By the way Amels, I still love you". Those 3 words shook and woke Amelia up. "Charles, am sorry for saying those mean, hurtful words. I didn't mean it. Please forgive me." "Woman you meant them alright", Charles retorted and walked away.
Amel couldn't let him just walk away. She felt if she let him go the chasm she'd created in their marriage would never be closed. "Charles, Charles", she tried to get his attention but Charles kept walking. Amel recollected like flashback Friday how all the females in her family treated the men. Where were they? She'd been lied to when she was told, "sticks and stones may break bones but words can never hurt." She had wounded her one true love who happened to love everything about her back.
You are quintessentially special,
= Welcome to Authentically Penned. The contents produced here have been in part plucked from pages in my life. I am all the more richer in my experience and thankful for all I have been through and to come.