It was not typical for a teenage girl like me to stay at home and did nothing after graduated from high school. I wasn't lazy, it was just that, no one would ever want to employ me. I went to the local restaurant, bar, library, and even computer center to look for a job. They didn't even want to interview me. What they said was "I'll call you later". But they never did. So there I was, listening to my iPod while going on Facebook. I did this for like over 3 months, and I felt bored like Hell 'cause nothing interesting happened on Facebook. I mean, yeah, I got like 60-80 notifications and 20 and above friend requests for a day. It wasn't that intriguing because I was used to it. It was tiring, you know? People were flooding my wall by posting "Hey, how are you?" and "Hey, I miss you" and even "OMG! You're so pretty!", but it wasn't worth it at all because I didn't gain money from it. I got bored and annoyed by those people so I replied them by saying "LOL".
God! It was so boring that day and I was wishing for something fascinating to happen on that day! So it did. My best friend called me. Her name is Marcia, and she has been my best friend since I was in 3rd Grade.
"Hey Annette!" she said to me.
"Hey, what's up?" I said. "And don't even think of asking me if I manage to get a job or something, 'cause I swear to God I'll rip off your hair if you do"
"No I won't ask you that," she continued "Do you have that kind of strength to pull my hair off?"
"No, but I will use a lawnmower if I have to. So why are you calling me?"
"Hear this out, there is a new toy shop in the mall looking for employees. So do you think you want to go there and apply for it?"
"What's the catch?" I asked her. I was being choosy for a moment there.
"They said that they are willing to pay you four dollars per hour. Look, if you want to go there, you ring me okay? I'll join you too. I hate my current job right now. My boss is a pervert"
"You've got to tell me everything that you've been through. And about that job, how about if we apply it today at noon?"
"Sure, I'll be happy to. See you at 12 then"
I hung up and felt so relieved, knowing that there was hope for me to get a job. But what I was worried that they would do the same thing too. Hopefully not because I was dying to turn over a new leaf. First, I needed to tell my parents about this job so that they could give me their support. My parents were the only people that I could talk to, other than Marcia. This would sound weird, but they are also my best friends.
I saw my mother in the kitchen. She was flicking every pages in her cook book, wondering what to cook for lunch. She was a brunette, long hair and a thin body, and she didn't even look like in her forties. Well, maybe a bit but it wasn't that obvious. Her name is Anneliese Frederick. She didn't realize that I was standing stationary in front of her. Her thoughts were preoccupied from thinking about the recipe. "Mum?" I broke the silence. She looked at me and smiled and pushed her book away. It was weird but she told me before that she had to focus on the people who were about to speak to her. It would be very rude if she wasn't paying any attention on the speaker, that was what she told me.
"Yes, Annette?" she spoke to me.
"What are you doing?" I asked as if I didn't know what she was doing.
"Oh, I was just thinking on what to cook next. Is there any problem?"
"Marcia just called..." and I paused.
"She asked me if I want to get a job at the new toy store at the mall today. So I was thinking, is this a good job for me?"
"Well that's great! It's great for you. I mean, you've been looking all over the place to get one right? So why don't you give it a try and see how it turns out"
I looked outside the windows, there was a mother and a child. She was holding her child's hand while walking down the pavement. They reminded me of my parents, my brother and my sister, and myself when I was a little girl. Somehow, I felt sad about it. And I suddenly produced a sad expression on my face. My mother noticed it and she was curious. "What's wrong honey? Don't you feel happy about this job opportunity?" she gently laid her hand on top of mine. I looked at her hand, which was still a young hand, but the aging process was obvious, and I held hers.
"Mum? I'm starting a new life. And after I have some money to get myself to college, I'll be leaving you alone with dad. Won't you be lonely when I'm gone?" I said it calmly.
She looked into my eyes with a happy-but-sad face. "Oh Annette. You've been a good daughter for us. Yes, I'll feel lonely. But at the same time, I'm feeling proud of you, and myself for doing a good job as a mother"
I tried to smile but this was a bit painful for me. I mean, I would leave her for living a new life of my own. Was this how it felt to be a grown up?
I was waiting for her to continue with her speeches. Suddenly, she stood up from her seat and went to the refrigerator and took off one of the pictures that she put on its door before. She looked at the pictures and she strolled towards me. She sat in front of me again, and showed me the picture. It was a picture of me with Andrew and Annabelle, my brother and my sister.
"See this picture? See how little you were? The moment I took that picture, I imagined myself looking at three of you as adults. Having families of your own, being successful with your dream job. I saw all that in a second. And now, I can't believe myself that it is coming true. Andrew is a step away from being a lecturer, and Annabelle is now a wife of a great man. And now it's your turn. You are taking your steps towards all that. And I can't be more proud than I am now.
"I know that it will be hard to live without you Annette, but it is something that I must face for your own sake. You must live your life to the fullest! The night you were born, I was praying to God, so that He will make you a better person in the future. And now He has answered my prayers. One day, when you've met your true love, the man of your life, you will feel the same way too. Remember what I said to you Annette. I want you to feel the same way for your children too," she ended her speech with tears.
I looked at her, smiling weakly while looking back at me. I couldn't hold my tears too but I didn't want her to see me crying. So I smiled at her and said "I love you, mum"
Suddenly, my father burst into the house by the front door while mumbling about his broken wrench. "Bah! Such a pain in the neck! You know that one of the sprinklers is busted, and I was about to fix it and suddenly my wrench is busted too!" His name is Harrison and he was a bit muscular and hadn't shaved for a while. After seeing my mother was in tears, he asked "Did I miss something?" Mum swept her face and shook her head. I stood up to avoid any sudden questions and told him about the job.
"Dad! This afternoon, I'll apply for a job at the new toy store. And I can't wait to be an employee right now!" I exclaimed.
"What? That's great for you! Good luck then! I'm wishing you for the best, Annette"
I strode towards him and hugged him happily. Oh wow, it had been a while since the last time I hugged him. I was getting taller I guess because I could put my chin on his shoulder now. He was a tall man. That explained the height of my brother, Andrew. Truly, it was a very happy moment, but at the same time, it was sad because I was taking my steps towards adulthood.
That afternoon, I was preparing myself to go to the shopping mall and apply for that job. I was getting my lipstick on, and did my hair neatly, and wore smartly for the walk-in interview. I wore my favorite gray knitted dress which was made by Mum during my sixteenth Thanksgiving. Suddenly, I heard honks outside of the house. Must be Marcia, she had arrived in time. So I went down the stairs and saw Mum in the living room. So I gave her a quick hug and kiss on the cheek and went outside. It was very exciting! I couldn't believe that I would finally get a job! I entered Marcia's car with a sweet smile on my face.
"So, are you ready to go?" asked Marcia.
"Hell yeah. Let's do it! Can't wait for it. Is my dress okay to you?" I said.
"Yeah, it looks cute on you. So let's go. Don't wanna waste any time now"
The car was moving. On the way to the mall, I talked to Marcia about what happened earlier. And she said her mother did the same thing the morning before graduation. I think that's what every mother will do when her children are taking their first steps towards adulthood. I guessed so.
Thirty minutes later, I was standing in front of the toy store which had a 'Wanted' sign on the window. So I was guessing this job would be easy to get because they were lacking of employees. The toy store wasn't an ordinary toy store. It was a classic toy store with old but precious toys in it. Like an antique shop but for kids. So I went inside, looking for the manager of the store, and believe it or not, the cashier was also the manager. It was so sad to know that. That was why he was desperate. The manager was an old guy which probably in his late sixties with white hair and a bloated stomach "Hello there! Looking for classic toys?" the old manager asked us. Better, we were trying to help you.
"Um? Hello Mr...." I glanced at his name tag and it flashed the name Sanders. "...Sanders" I continued. "Both of us are looking for a job and we heard that this store needs employees. I was wondering maybe we could apply for a position at this store?"
"Ah! Yes, yes! We need them very badly. Wait here," he said. He went into the office of the store and searched for files. I wondered that he was searching for application forms for us.
I was wandering around the store. It was kind of amusing to see the toys were moving and making funny noises. There were stuff animals and dolls on the rack and they worth a fortune too. Old, but expensive. Suddenly Marcia called me and showed me a toy, which was very fun to play with. It was a miniature wind up Merry-Go-Round. I twisted the winder and the Merry-Go-Round started to spin and produce a beautiful melody with LED light on the horses's diamonds. I was enchanted by the toy. Seemed like I was a child who had fallen in love with a childish toy like that.
"That is 1988's" the manager's voice startled both of us who were mesmerized by the toy. He was holding the forms. He was smiling and he looked like a kind old man with his smile.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to..." he didn't let me finished.
"No, no. It's fine. I haven't seen any adolescences like you which have interests in old toys these day. Even the children nowadays have no interest of playing with these old toys," he told both of us. Sad, wasn't it?
He handed us the forms and asked us to fill it up. We sat on the small chairs with a small table. Seemed like they were meant for children, or dwarfs. After filling it up, we handed the form back to Mr.Sanders. He smiled at us and said "Thank you Annette and Marcia. You can start tomorrow at 9am," he smiled while speaking to us. Wait... What? No interview?
"Are you sure you don't have to interview us?" Marcia said in curiosity.
"Why should I? You seem like a nice girl, plus since I'm the only employee around here and someone needs to be pressing buttons on this cash register"
"Oh my God! Thank you so much Mr.Sanders! I really appreciate it! I do!"
"You're welcome. Now go home and spread the story and take a lot of rest for tomorrow"
We exited the store and babbled in excitement. We were planning to go shopping on our payday and hang out together. We were really happy at the moment. I called Mum to deliver the news and she was so happy for me. All of the excitement made us feeling thirsty and hungry.
We were at the parking lot when suddenly Marcia realized that she had left her phone in the toy store. Hopefully the manager would be nice enough to keep it for her. Of course he would, he seemed like a nice old man too.
"Okay, I'll retrieve my phone and after that, we'll be stopping at Starbucks okay? Wait for me here," she said to me.
"No problem. Be quick okay? I'm hungry," I replied.
"Okay. I'll be back soon"
She ran into the mall and went to the toy store. I was left alone outside of the mall. It wasn't that hot. It was cloudy on that day. Lucky me or I'd be burned by the sun. I had waited for Marcia for ten minutes and she hadn't showed up. Damn! I was starving! Where was she? Had some chit chat with the store manager? I searched into my handbag and produced my phone. I called her and she picked up and said that she would reach me soon.
Obliviously, someone was standing right behind me while I was on the phone with Marcia! Suddenly, I felt something was being pressed on my backbone. "Don't scream" It was a man. He was pointing a gun at me! I was feeling so scared but I must not show my fear to him. I must calmly negotiate with him. "Okay, I will cooperate. I'll give you my money, my phone, just please don't kill me okay?" He silenced and was still pointing the gun at my back. I was trying not to scream because he had warned me. He had been quiet for awhile and I was wondering what he was waiting for. "I don't need your money. Don't scream" What did he want with me then!? I was terrified when he said that he didn't want my money. Tears were rolling down my cheeks and I was completely engulfed by my fear. "Please don't hurt me, please? I'm begging you. I'll do whatever you want me to, okay?" Suddenly, I heard someone was calling my name at the entrance of the mall. It was Marcia.
"Annette? Annette!" she yelled.
"Help me!! Marcia help me!!"
Suddenly, the man produced a white cloth and put it on my face. It was chloroform. I was struggling to escape, but he was embracing me strongly. I could hear that Marcia was shouting my name over and over again and cried for help. She couldn't do much of everything because she was terrified too. Slowly, I lost my consciousness and passed out. Marcia's voice had faded away and I couldn't see anything. And after that, I couldn't remember a thing. What would happen to me? Would I die that day? Would I be raped by the man? God knows. All I could do was praying, even though I was unconscious. I was praying to God that he wouldn't hurt me.
-TO BE CONTINUED-