“I wonder if these high heels suit my dress for today,” Linda Houlton said in front of Nigel Bents at the counter in the middle of the lobby in Houlton Cosmetics Corporation. “I have light blue wedges at home to fit with this dress.”
“Then why didn’t you wear that?” Nigel snapped friendly, typing something on the keyboard, working as counter guy. He was bald, already in his 30s but he was very fashionable. Every woman in that building would praise his clothing or even asked about their outfits for the day. Linda was not an exceptional.
She tossed her strawberry blonde hair that touched her forearms beautifully. Her sea-green eyes sparkled whenever she talked about fashion with Nigel. Her perfect legs were craved by other women and she was known as the queen of the building. Her father was the manager of that company so no wonder she was looked up by everyone. She had already reached 27.
“I know you’d be saying that. Silly me,” she replied with a weak smile. “And I suppose I’ll wear those tomorrow to match with my white office suit.”
Nigel rolled his eyes. “Linda, I’ve told you so many times that white can be matched with any colour,” he barked. “And besides, I thought you hate white.”
Linda smiled. “Of course I hate white. But sometimes we need to get used to it. It brings luck.”
Nigel shot her a hateful smile and returned back to his work. Linda sighed. She walked away to the lift to get back to her office room but a strong male voice stopped her.
“Hey, Lin!” Harry Thilt called.
“Hey,” Linda said, watching her fiancée rushing towards her. As he arrived, he gave her a light kiss on the lips.
“How’s my baby doing today?” Harry asked in a seducing way. His killer eyes melted Linda’s heart.
She sniggered. “I’m fine, honey. What’re you doing here? I thought you’re going to have an important meeting this morning,” she spoke.
Harry touched her fluffy cheeks and pecked on the left. “I know but I keep missing you every morning. I can’t even brush my teeth perfectly as I always remember you.”
Linda brought him away from the lift way as many people were watching them when they strode in. She cleared her throat. “Honey, it’s been only a day after you stayed with me last two days. How can you keep missing me?”
Harry tilted backward slightly, giving her a disbelief look. “Are you saying we shouldn’t see each other anymore? Don’t you miss me?”
“I do miss you, honey,” Linda responded, pulling out a hand of her auburn-haired fiancée and looked into his eyes. “I have a job, you have a job, we have jobs so we have our own schedules and meeting each other frequently could cause time trouble.”
“Okay, okay, I’ll go to work now,” Harry blurted. He gave a last peck on her forehead and stared at her for a while. “Let’s have lunch together tomorrow. How’s that?”
Linda smirked. “That sounds great,” she said, nodding.
Betty Hernandes knocked on the door of Linda’s office. “Knock! Knock!”
Linda looked up from the files she was checking at the desk. “Come in,” she called.
Her best friend came in and closed the door. She sat on a chair in front of Linda. “I saw you with Harry just now. What’s up?”
“Nothing. Just a good morning kiss and he said that how much he missed me. Plus, we’re going to catch lunch together tomorrow,” Linda said. Betty nodded slightly. She pulled some strand of her African-American hair to behind her right ear and smiled.
“Looks like you guys are doing great,” she pointed.
“Of course we’re doing great. We had spent time together last two days and he came to see me today,” Linda told her. “We’re great.”
“So, why don’t you guys forward the date of the wedding? It’s better to do it early or you’ll be sorry for always postponing the D-day.”
Linda glared at her friend. “I’m not postponing! It’s just that I put the date for another four months. That’s all. We’re getting married after all.”
Betty sighed. “Yes, but it’s damn late, pal. Get married now or never.”
Linda chuckled. She smacked her forehead. “Betty, I know what I’m doing. It’s my wedding, not yours. Besides, both of us still have jobs to do right now and it leads us for further months. Especially with our new project, the new version of our mascara is undergoing experiments and it takes time. I can’t get married during this mess.”
Betty did not say anything but she kept watching her friend. Linda shrugged. “I can’t do my work if you keep locking your eyes at me. Don’t you have your work?”
“Linda,” Betty began, hunching over. “Let’s shop till we drop after work. I need a new handbag,” she said, widening her eyes. “It’s been a while since our last buy.”
Linda closed her files and put aside her pen. She got up and went to the windows. The sky was very soothing that day but something had made her feel uneasy. She was the usual cheerful woman and loved to shop. Her condo was filled with shopping bags but she never got the chance to check them out. But she felt like having a life like that seemed to bore her more and more.
“I want a more challenging life,” she said out of the blue.
Betty frowned. Her eyes wandered around and stopped at Linda’s back before she asked, “What? What’re you talking about?”
Linda turned around. “I was talking about my life,” she answered in a lame way.
“Uh, your life? What’s wrong with it? You have a life, right?” Betty mumbled. She frowned harder as Linda didn’t say anything. She corrected her seating position on the chair. “Actually, what’re we talking about?”
“I hate my life. I mean, I don’t really hate it. It’s just that…it’s kind of boring and I keep doing the same routine everyday. I wake up early in the morning, go to work, get back home and go shopping. It’s boring.”
“Wait a minute,” Betty said, pointing out her index finger. “You’re bored with your life? Linda, every woman wishes that they have your life. You’re a successful woman, you have a money-tree family, you have your own condo and Harry is there for you so I don’t get it. You’re bored?”
Linda sat on her desk and crossed her legs. “Don’t remind me, Betty. I’m thankful with this gift but I want more challenge. I want something to happen. A miracle, something like that.” She looked at Betty with a hopeful face. “Don’t you want a miracle?”
Betty shrugged. “I don’t know.”
Linda unlocked her house front door and got in. As she shut it back, a furry black and white Chihuahua came brushing at her legs. She looked down at her dog. “Hey, Cookie!”
Cookie was lifted up. “How’s your day, sweetie? Did you eat your food?” Linda asked. She brought the dog to the spacious living room with imported maroon carpeted floor from Pakistan and the room was well designed with expensive things.
Linda put Cookie down and pressed the message button of the answering machine. A beep sound came.
“Hello, baby? Are you home yet? It’s me, Harry. Your super duper cool guy you’ve ever met!” The message told. “I can’t wait to have lunch with you tomorrow. I thought dinner would be great but perhaps you’re doing too much at work today so, I’m giving you space. Call me, baby, okay? Bye!”
Linda rolled her eyes. She chuckled and pressed the button to off the message. Walking toward her princess-like bedroom, she poured herself a glass of champagne on the end table beside the king-sized bed and settled down on the edge of the soft mattress. She had been doing the same thing for almost years.
“That’s why I need a miracle,” she told herself and took a small sip at her champagne. Just then, Cookie strode into the room with a folded paper in her mouth. She sat on the floor and pulled out both hands, telling her master to take that letter.
Linda took her last drink. She glanced at her dog. “What is that, sweetie? Where did you get that?”
She received it and unfolded the paper. “If you want a more challenging life,” she read. “-look at the night sky. See the comet, say your wish.”
Linda shook her head. “Crazy,” she said, throwing away the letter and poured herself another glass of champagne. While she was drinking on the bed, she kept thinking about the previous letter. Was it true of was it from some insane folks who happened to prank her? Those puzzles spun in her mind for almost half an hour.
Finally, she got up and headed to the balcony. The night breeze was cold but still was not enough to let people shiver. Linda was still in her office wear. She folded her hands on the balcony fence and looked up. All she could see were stars. Nothing else. The moon was hardly seen around.
Cookie caught up later. She sat beside her master. Linda didn’t watch her as she could feel her presence. “Is this some sort of a game, Cookie?”
The Chihuahua did not bark. Linda sighed. She put down her hands. “Let’s go inside, Cookie. I’m tired,” she said, turning around but when she was about to do that, a streak of light falling from the sky caught her eyes. She glanced at the light and saw the comet.
“Is that a comet? Is it?! Oh, my! I’m not very good in science!” Linda shrieked. As far as she knew about comet was that it can run and disappear in seconds. “Okay, okay! Whatever it is, just make a wish.”
Linda pasted her both hands and closed her eyes tightly. “I wish for a different life, a life that can challenge my guts and give me courage to make my own decision. I wish for a challenging life.”
She opened an eye and blinked. “Is that it? How pitiful,” she told Cookie.
Cookie just whined.
The morning sunlight shot through the vertical blinds of the windows of Linda’s bedroom, making her woke up from her beauty sleep. She yawned and searched for her alarm clock. It was almost eight. She sighed and got off from bed.
Linda wore her bathrobe and walked to the kitchen. Cookie was seen waiting beside her food bowl, wagging her tail.
“Good morning, Cookie,” Linda admonished, taking out a medium-sized bag of dog crackers from a cabinet and poured into Cookie’s bowl. The dog quickly ate her breakfast. “You must be so hungry, sweetie.”
Suddenly, the phone rang. Linda rushed toward the living room and picked up the receiver. “Hello?”
“Hello, Linda. It’s me,” Mr. Houlton said.
“Oh, hi, dad. What’s the matter?”
“I’m late for work so I need to rush. I’m asking you to do me a favour.”
Linda shifted her weight to her left leg. “Sure, I see what I can do. So, what is it?”
“A friend of mine, Mr. Wallet has an urgent appointment to attend out of LA. Last week, he has adopted an orphan but can only take him home today but since Mr. Wallet is busy, I was thinking that if you can help him.”
“What?”Linda asked with a puzzle look. “Orphan? Adopted? What?”
“Listen, dear,” Mr. Houlton said. “The orphanage doesn’t want the adoption to be delayed because both the manager and Mr. Wallet had signed an agreement. The date is today. So, Mr. Wallet can’t let the orphan to stay there so since there’s no one he can ask for help, he asked me, and I’m asking you. Can you make it?”
Linda was stunted. She back-combed her long hair and bite her bottom lip. “I-I-I’m not sure, dad,” she mumbled. It was a sudden favour to start the day.
“It’s okay for you to skip the morning schedule. I let you. Just go and fetch that kid. Bring him over to your house for a while before Mr. Wallet gets here.”
Before Linda could say anything to respond, her father hung up. She let out a deep breath.
The wooden front door was knocked triple. Linda adjusted her sunglasses while studying the big, red-brick building. It had a spacious lawn filled with playgrounds and other facilities for relaxing. The grass floor was well made and taken care of. Linda was standing on the steps. She put her hair into a lazy ponytail.
After a few seconds went by, she let out a deep breath as the door was not open. She grunted and knocked on the door a couple of times in anger. The door was opened abruptly. Linda froze with her right hand in front of a middle-age woman. A stern look was formed. “May I help you?” she asked sarcastically.
Linda cleared her throat. “Yes, please. I would like to fetch a boy under Mr. Wallet,” she responded with no interest.
The woman looked at her from head to toe then back at her face with those cold eyes. “Come in.”
Linda got in. Her high heels thumped on the tiled floor loudly as she strode down the huge hallway towards a room with a green framed door. She followed the woman into the room. It was the office.
“I’m Mrs. Campbell, the manager of this building,” the woman said, settling on her leather chair at a desk. Linda sat across it on a random seat. She felt uncomfortable.
“I’m Linda. Linda Houlton. I represent Mr. Wallet-“
“I know,” Mrs. Campbell cut.
Linda glared at her. She watched Mrs. Campbell flipping through a file. Later, she went to a stop.
“Please sign here,” the woman ordered, handing her a piece of paper with typing notes as the content. “It’s the form to confirm on the adoption.”
Linda received it and read. Then, she fetched a pen she found on the desk and signed the paper. She gave it back to the Campbell. “What is he like?”
Mrs. Campbell shot her a front-glance with an anger mood into it. She kept the paper into the file and said, “I don’t want to talk about him. He’s a teenager like a teenage boy is. I would never adopt him.”
“You don’t know him if you haven’t met him. He’s the eldest orphan here. It’s great for him to be adopted. He needs attitude care.”
“Is he a drug-addict?” Linda asked.
“No, he doesn’t. It’s just that you’ll have a complication in communicating with him. He refuses to talk since he’s here or should I say….mute?” Mrs. Campbell explained.
“Do not touch his belongings. He doesn’t like that. If you start to make him mad, you’ll be suffering from migraine, watching him mad at you with those long hands trying to speak to you,” Mrs. Campbell said while going up the stairs followed by Linda.
“He uses sign language?” she asked in puzzle and scared.
Both of them arrived at the very first room among the corridor. Mrs. Campbell took out a ring of keys. “Of course he is. He’s deaf too.”
Linda gritted her bottom lip and looked away while waiting for the woman to unlock the room.
“He always locks himself in his room. Thank God I have an extra key,” Mrs. Campbell spoke. Linda just nodded. She was worried. She never faced a delinquent teenage, mute and deaf boy.
The door was unlocked. Mrs. Campbell barged in. Linda popped her head behind the door. A teenage boy was seen lying in his messy bed with no shirt, only in his worn jeans. He was playing with his basketball. But as Mrs. Campbell came in, he stared at the woman.
“You’ve been adopted!” she yelled even though she knew the boy would not hear anything. “Pack your things!”
The boy did not respond. Instead, he threw the ball at the woman. Mrs. Campbell groaned. She grabbed any paper she found on the floor and took out her pen. She began writing on the desk and showed him the message.
He read it for a while but later, he shook his head. He made a few sign languages. Mrs. Campbell threw away the note and put both hands on her hip. “I do not care! Pack your things now! She’ll be taking you home!”
When the fierce woman pointed her finger at Linda, the boy looked in the direction. Suddenly, Linda’s heart beat faster. She noticed the boy had pair of killer eyes. She liked his eyes. The boy’s auburn hair was left uncombed and he had tanned skin. Somehow, Linda was distracted with the first love sight. But still, she kept reminded herself that she was already engaged with Harry. It was a common situation for every female.
The boy rolled his eyes. He made another sign language at Mrs. Campbell. Perhaps he was asking about Linda’s arrival. Mrs. Campbell replied with nonsense sign gestures and forced him to pack his things.
Just then, the phone rang from downstairs. Mrs. Campbell sighed. “Sorry, I need to take that call. Why don’t you stay here and help him pack? Sign language is killing me!”
The woman walked past her in a rush. Later, the room was down into silence. Linda swallowed. She looked at that boy who was grabbing some of his shirts on the floor and dumped them into a travelling backpack under the desk. He ignored the situation clearly.
Linda neared him slowly. She leaned forward. “Hello?”
The boy did not answer. He made himself busy with packing things on the floor. As he got up and turned around, both of them were shocked when they were face to face. Linda smiled. The boy walked away.
“Wait! I don’t know your name,” Linda asked, following him to the other side of the bed. “You can write your name on air.”
When that boy did not do anything to answer her, she finally remembered that he was deaf. She sighed, taking out her notebook out of her handbag and scribbled something. Then, she poked the boy’s back. He turned with a cold face.
Linda wrote a message, asking about his name. That boy grunted and spun around. He pointed at a foolscap book on the bed without looking at her.
Linda looked at the book. She found ‘Jack’ at the name section. “Oh, so you’re Jack. That’s a nice name,” she said. Again, no respond. Now she knew that it was hard to talk to a deaf and mute person for the first time.
Jack zipped up his backpack abruptly and grabbed his basketball. He slipped into a t-shirt and covered himself with his denim jacket. It looked too old and crappy. Linda furrowed her eyebrows as she watched that boy wearing a pair of trash-like sneakers.
He walked out of the room without informing the lady. Linda scoffed. She rushed outside and went after him. “Jack! Jack!”
When she clenched Jack’s forearm, he stopped and gave her a cold look. Linda sighed. She made signs that she wanted him to wait for her while she goes to meet the manager. Jack rolled his eyes. Linda entered the office to see Mrs. Campbell had just hung up the phone.
“Oh, you’re leaving?”
Linda shrugged slightly. “Yeah. We’re going.”
Mrs. Campbell breathed out. “Finally. Come on, let’s get to the door.”
Linda was tilted a bit as she could not find Jack at the hallway. “Where did he go?”
Mrs. Campbell ignored her while walking straight to the main door. “Jack is not a person who sits down when people ask to. Do not worry, he’s here somewhere.”
When both of them exited the building, Linda spotted Jack, who was shooting his basketball into the basket at the court. Mrs. Campbell smirked. “You’ve got a lot of work to do, young lady,” she sounded.
Linda faced her in puzzle. “What do you mean?”
Mrs. Campbell sighed. She pointed at the boy. “I’ve been taking care of him since he was thirteen. He didn’t talk or find friends. He’s with his own world. No one can go against him. Not yet. You better watch out. He will suffer you.”
Linda took out her sunglasses and put it on. “He’s with me for just one day,” she said and walked off.
to be continued....