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Fiction

When you’re a kid, being “creative”, “imaginative”, and “full of crazy” ideas gets you places. People may compliment you for coming up with the strangest things or proposing the most arbitrary plans. You could create a paper rocket, throw it into the air, and your parents would tell you that, one day, you’d make a real one and shoot it to the moon. 

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, an idea, no matter how “imaginative”, is only an idea, and a paper rocket, well, it’s just a paper rocket, nothing more. 

And I guess I had to learn that the hard way. Coming out of college, I quickly realized that having a high IQ and being “full of ideas” was not going to get me a job, put a roof over my head, or food on my plate. Unemployed and alone, I struggled to subsist on the little earnings that I’d managed to save up over countless summer jobs at the smoothie shop across my university. That money lasted maybe two weeks, and that’s being generous. From there, I got kicked out of my apartment and found myself homeless (and jobless) on the streets. 

I ended up moving back into my parents house to live in their basement. After that, it only got worse. I stopped going out at all. I lost contact with my friends, and all I did, for the most part, was sleep, dream, and sleep some more. Now that I think about it, I guess that’s probably why my parents decided to find me a shrink and sign me up for morning therapy sessions every Tuesday. And that, my friends, brings us here.

I’m sitting on the fuzzy neon purple bean bag in the corner of Mrs.Twala’s room. As usual, she has dimmed the lights and sprayed ocean breeze perfume throughout the entire room, which, by the way, I nearly choked on walking in.

After having asked me to take a seat, she walks over to the other end of the petite sized room and clicks the radio on with her perfectly polished nail. Yes, she still uses a radio, and yes, she has perfectly polished nails.

Once she’s set up her room the way she likes it, Mrs.Twala heads over to her desk, which conveniently happens to be right next to my bean bag, and takes a seat on her leather swivel chair. 

“Well, how are you today Elizabeth?” she asks, her curly blond hair bounces on her head as she tilts her head to the side. She pushes her large black rimmed glasses closer to her face. The lens seems two inches thick. She reminds me of a school librarian. 

“Fine, thank you.” Other than the fact that these past few days, I’ve been dreaming about the same building every single time I shut my eyes. Of course, I don’t tell her that because then, she might think I’d really lost it. 

“Alright,” she nods and writes something in her little notebook she always uses during our sessions. God, I hate that notebook. “So, is there anything in particular you want to talk about today? Anything going on with your life that’s improved or worsened this last week?”

I stare at her blankly, the only thing in my head being the dream and the building in that dream. 

“How about a job? I remember you telling me last week your parents were trying to help you get a job.” her eyes scan over the mini notepad, reading through what she had jotted down during our previous session. 

“Nope. No job. Just sleeping,” I say, then add, “And dreaming…”

After that, we just sit there for what seems like an eternity, neither of us seeming to be in the mood to start up the conversation again. 

The light from the night lamp seemed to reflect off Mrs.Twala’s green eyes. Finally, she murmurs something softly under her breath. I can’t tell if she was talking to me. 

“Sorry, what was that?” I ask, shifting my position in the bean bag.

“Dreams you said.” she pauses, drumming her polished nails on her desk, “And what exactly are you dreaming about?”

For a second, I hesitate, not sure if I should tell her about the building. However, after taking another moment to think about it, I decide otherwise. I mean, my parents are paying hundreds of dollars an hour to let me talk to a shrink and spill all my thoughts and feelings out to her. Heck, they might as well have been “buying” me a friend for an hour. Either way, I figured that the money they spent should not be wasted. To be honest, there really was no one else to tell, so who would I share my dreams with, if not with my own personal shrink. 

So, I tell her. I begin by explaining how these past few days, I’ve been having a dream about the exact same building. She asks me to describe the building in detail, so I do. 

“Well, the building was large, I guess. It towered over everything around it, maybe ten stories higher than the tallest structure.” I pause, contemplating on how to better describe it, “The facade was covered with reflective metal tiles that made up the entire surface of the building, and it just had a really enigmatic appearance overall.”

Mrs.Twala nodded solemnly, jotting down notes as I spoke, “And did you enter the building?”

“No,” I say, but then correct myself, “Well, I mean I guess technically yes. In the dream, there have been instances when I manage to step through the front doors to enter the building, but right when that happens, the dream ends, and I wake up.”

“I see.” Mrs.Twala purses her lips together, intensely analyzing her mini notepad. 

Then, a thought occurs to me, “Do you think I’m crazy?” I leap up from the soft bean bag, “Because if you're just going to put me on some anxiety meds or some crap like that, don’t even bother.” 

“Of course not, Elizabeth. I definitely do not think you’re crazy, nor do I think you require any sort of medication.” she sets down her notepad and glances at the clock at the front of the room, “Well, we’re almost out of time dear, so if you’d like, you may go to the waiting room for your parents to come pick you up. Additionally, if you’d like of course, I’d be glad to continue our talk about your dream on your next visit.”

“Sure.” I say and walk out of the room just like that, not turning back once. 

Seconds after I walk out of the facility, I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket. I slide it into my hand and answer the phone, putting the smooth surface to my ear.

“Hello?” 

“Hi!” the voice on the other end is soft and sweet, like honey, “Is this Elizabeth Millers speaking?” 

“Yes, that’s me. And who are you?” I ask in the politest manner I can manage as I flag my mom’s car down. She pulls up next to the curb. Mom unlocks the door instantly, and I hop in, clicking on my seat belt.

“So, how was your…” Mom begins to say. I press my finger to my lips, shake my head, and point to the phone. 

“I’m on a call.” I mouth silently, and she nods knowingly, turning her attention back to the road as she starts the car again. 

“My name is Lily, and I’m calling on behalf of Mechtat Corporation to offer you a once in a lifetime opportunity to work for our company.”

Well that doesn’t sound like a scam at all.

“Oh.” I say, trying my best not to sound dubious, “Thanks, but I’m not interested.” my finger reaches for the red button on my phone to hang up, but Lily speaks again. She sounds urgent, so I decide to give her another shot at explaining.

“Wait. Don’t hang up yet please. Before you reject this offer, I’d at least like to inform you that very shortly, you will receive an email that provides more information about this opportunity. I’d like to ask that you read it thoroughly, and then consider whether or not you’re willing to go for an interview.”

I twist the yarn bracelet on my left wrist, “Alright. I’ll look at it.”

“Great!” Lily’s voice brightens, “Thank you so much. I look forward to hearing back from you.” 

“Sure.” I say and hang up abruptly. 

I see Mom’s eyes peer at me through the rearview mirror. “So, what was that about?” she asked.

“Nothing much.” is all I say, and we leave it at that.

***

My eyes reread the email on my computer for what seems like the hundredth time. The contents are still the same. Holy crap. This job, assuming it’s not some massive scam, could get me back on my feet. 

I’m pretty sure even my parents, who are both highly respectable lawyers, don’t even make that much money annually. If I had that money, that sort of income, I could definitely move out and get my own apartment. Heck, I could probably even afford a house. 

Not only that, but the company seems pretty legitimate too. I searched up their name online, and there were millions of results. The corporation did exist, and they had their own website. Additionally, they had veritable stocks in the market and a concrete location as to where the headquarters was located. 13400 Blvd, Dallas, Texas 75645. 

Looking back at the email once more, I find a number listed at the bottom of the page which I’m guessing is who I’m supposed to call, assuming I’m interested, which I am.

So, quickly, I pick my phone out of my pocket, enter in the phone number, and press the dial key. Almost instantaneously, someone picks up, and I breathe a sigh of relief when I hear Lily’s voice on the other end. 

“Hello?” her soft voice soothes my ears.

“Hi!” I say, “This is Elizabeth. Elizabeth Millers. You called earlier today about a job opening in your company. Is that still available?”

“Of course! I’m so glad you called back. Did you want to schedule an interview with us?” 

“Oh.” I had to get an interview. Of course I needed an interview. How could I have forgotten about that? People don’t just automatically get hired from random companies without some sort of employee evaluation. That would be way too good to be true. 

“Sorry, I didn’t catch that. What did you say?” Lily asks.

“Yeah. Sure. I’d like to schedule an interview.”

“Great! Could you give me a brief outline of your schedule and when you’d be able to make it to a quick one hour meeting with our staff?”

I feel my cheeks turn a light shade of pink, “I mean I’m free most of the time.” I scratch my head, “Oh, other than Tuesday’s. I have a fixed appointment every Tuesday.”

I hear the click, click of a computer keyboard, the sounds rhythmic and steady, “I see. How does tomorrow morning sound then? Can you do, hmmm, let’s see, 10:00 AM?”

I don’t answer right away, pretending to check my non-existent schedule. “Yes, that works just fine. Is there anything I need to bring with me? I’m assuming I need my resume, but is there anything else?”

“No, I think your resume will do just fine Elizabeth. Just bring that, and yourself of course.” She laughs lightly.

“Ok. Are there any interview questions I should prepare for?” I ask slightly embarrassed. This was the first real job I’d actually been offered, unless you counted the smoothie shop across from university.

“You will see tomorrow. There’s nothing really you need to prepare in advance.”

“Alright. Thanks.” I’m about to hang up, but then I remember, “Wait, the interview place is the address written on the email right?” 

“Yes, of course. Tomorrow, all you have to do is go to that address, tell the front desk your name, and you’ll be guided to your interview room.”

“Ok, thank you.” I say then hang up.

***

I tug awkwardly at my clothes as I fidget in the back seat of the taxi. I hadn’t been sure what to wear to the interview, so I resorted to asking Mom for one of her fancy black “lawyer suits'', as she likes to call them. When I’d asked her, she’d given me a strange and questioning look but didn’t pry me for information like I’m sure Dad would have. She simply led me to her wardrobe and let me pick out one that I liked. I figured I’d just tell my parents about the job, if I got the job. No need to raise their hopes only to disappoint them again. Now, you can probably guess why I’m taking a taxi rather than Mom’s car.

“Miss, we’ve arrived.” the taxi driver turns back to look at me.

“Oh, sorry. I wasn’t paying attention.” I grab my wallet out of my purse and take out two twenty dollar bills, “Is this enough?”

“It’s $42, miss.” he says simply. 

I pull out a five and hand the money over to him hastily, “Keep the change.”

He thanks me as I step out of the car and slam the door shut behind me. As I finally look up to the building in front of me, my heart skips a beat, and I have to do a quick double take to confirm what I see. 

It’s THE building. The building that I’ve dreamed of time and time again these past few days. The building that I’d never been able to actually enter before waking up. The building that I’d just had a talk about with my therapist yesterday. The building that made me think that, maybe, I was finally losing my mind, but no, this building is real, and I’m about to walk into it, for an interview. Well, isn’t that a coincidence? 

The front doors of the lofty building are automatic. They slide open smoothly as I approach, and I enter promptly. There’s a large circular desk at the center of the space. Standing in the station, is a girl who can’t possibly be more than a year older than me. She has bright strawberry hair that rests in curls on her shoulders. She’s dressed in a black formal dress that makes me question my clothing choice. Her lips are colored full with red lipstick, and her eyelashes are lightly layered with mascara. At the sight of me, a smile pulls at her lips, and I can’t help but smile back.

“Hello, you must be Elizabeth Millers.” she checks her watch, “9:55 AM. You’re early. That’s good.” 

“Yes, that’s me, and you are?” I ask.

“I’m Lily. We talked on the phone yesterday. I helped you schedule your appointment if you remember.” 

“Yes, I remember. Thank you for calling. I really appreciate it.” 

I hand Lily my resume, and she shuffles the papers together, taps the bottom of the pile against the desk to straighten them, and gestures for me to follow her as she begins walking towards the elevator across from us, “Oh, don’t thank me. I’m just an assistant. It’s the real people in charge that you should be thanking.”  

The elevator door slides open, and we step in accordingly. Lily traces the buttons with her finger, and stops when she reaches the one with the number 120.

“To the top.” She presses the button and smiles at me.

“Oh, like the very top?” I ask, trying to sound as phlegmatic as I can manage.

“Yes. The very top.”

As we travel up the building, Lily talks to me about her experience in the company. She tells me how nice everyone is and assures me that there’s no need to be nervous about the interview. She says that the “people in charge”, as she likes to call them, aren’t intimidating at all. As she continues talking, I nod and throw in a “Mhm” every once in a while. My mind however, has wandered off, and all I can think is, how the heck did I wind up applying for an interview in the building that I’ve dreamt about again and again? Did these kinds of coincidences actually happen in real life?

I hear a light ding, “We’re here.” Lily says and briskly walks out of the elevator, “Follow me.”

She leads me down the vast hallway. It’s empty and quiet. Lily doesn’t talk as we travel, and the eerie silence surrounding us seems to creep up my skin. Finally, she stops in front of a large maroon colored door. Then, she turns to me, handing me my resume.

“Here you are, Elizabeth. They are waiting for you inside,” she cocks her head at the door, “You can head in whenever you’re ready.”

I stare at her, “Are you going to come in with me, or do I just go in myself.”

“Yourself, silly. You’re here for an interview, not me.” I guess she can tell I’m tense because she puts her hand on my shoulder and gives me an encouraging look, “Don’t worry. You’ll do great!”

I nod, suck in a deep breath, twist the knob, and open the door. 

From there, all the words, all the phrases that I had memorized and practiced for the interview the night before left my mouth just like that. All I could do was stare, gaping and looking like an absolute idiot. 

Sitting in front of me, I see Mrs.Twala, my Tuesday therapist, smiling at me. However, unlike usual, she’s dressed formally in a lavender form fitting dress that tugs at cleavage I didn’t even realize she had. Her curly blond hair is straightened, and she’s not wearing her librarian glasses. If I hadn’t known her before this, I would’ve definitely thought she was some sort of fashion model. 

“Hello, Elizabeth. Welcome to the business.” she says.

July 20, 2021 17:27

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7 comments

Jon R. Miller
02:12 Aug 08, 2021

Wow! Excellent plot twist and cliff hanger! If this does become a novel, I'd love to read it! GOSH. So many things I want to find out. What's up with Mrs. Twala? Does she provide therapy to people on the side as a way to find interesting talent and recruit people? I'm also a big fan of thinking over and mulling over my dreams. So I love it when dreams play a big role in a story. I really enjoy your writing. :> Jon

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Eve Y
14:23 Aug 08, 2021

Thank you so much for your positive feedback! And yes, I'm actually planning on making this a novel because as I was writing this, I realized there were wayyy too many details that I needed to include to make the story make sense. A short story just wasn't going to cut it. :) I'm so glad you enjoy my writing, the feeling is mutual! Thank you!

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Cass Marie
02:45 Jul 29, 2021

What business!!! Oh, phew. I both love and hate a story that ends with questions, but that's a good thing for us writers...brings the reader right back. Love it!

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Eve Y
15:24 Jul 29, 2021

Thank you!! I'm so glad you enjoyed the story!

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Oscar Cole
11:11 Jul 24, 2021

Wow, plot twist at the end there! I'm not quite sure what exactly happened but I really enjoyed it. The story kept me gripped the whole way through and I actually found it weirdly ominous, the uncertainty with what's happening and the eerie coincidences, and the narrators vulnerability in that she is going through quite a tough time. Also, I found the use of the present tense really natural, even though it is quite uncommon so well done. You might be curious to know that I thought the narrator was male until the therapist called her Elizabet...

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Eve Y
19:43 Jul 24, 2021

Thank you so much for your thoughtful and detailed comment! I'm glad you enjoyed the story. I'm planning on expanding on this story and possibly making it a book because I realized I wouldn't be able to fit the plot into a short story. As for your thoughts on the narrator being male, I'll have to look into that and see if there's anything I can adjust to make her gender more clear. Thanks and keep writing !

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Eve Y
17:29 Jul 20, 2021

I had so much fun writing this short story, so I hope you enjoy it! I think I might be considering turning this into a book because I just feel like there are so many things left unexplained at the end. I guess a short story's length just wasn't long enough. Regardless, I hope the plot intrigues you! Critique and feedback is greatly appreciated! Thank you and have a great day!

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