Not knowing where you fit in or where you belong, where your place is growing up–The House on Newland Street.
I only remember waking up one day and being called in to work. I never questioned myself how I got the job for some reason. I don’t know. Everyday at five thirty in the morning, I woke up, showered, ate breakfast, worked, ate dinner, slept, repeat. There was a part of me missing that I couldn’t figure out. Sometimes, I would go to the library and read a couple of astrology books.
I didn’t have any friends or coworkers that I talked to either. There was this one woman, named Allison. Allison was favored out of the coworkers and managers. She had beautiful brown eyes, an ash brown balayage with highlights in her hair, and stood out from the others. She always got employee of the month, although I worked hard myself that I should earn it too. She was beautiful. I realized that she never talked to anyone at work either, other than saying hi. I went to the library one night after work where I decided to figure out what part of me was missing. I grabbed an astrology book where it showed me my zodiac sign. I’m a pisces. Pisces’ are more sensitive than other zodiac signs. They are detached from reality and escape from it because it gives a sense of peace, which makes them forget about the real world. I realized what part of me was missing. I was lonely. I didn’t have friends, no one to talk to, no place to go.
I thought of plans to make friends. My immediate first thought was to talk to people at work. So I did. I waved hi to others at work, and although they waved back, we never made conversation. I felt trapped in a repetitive world. The coworkers waved back and never made conversation as if they lived the same life as me. The next day before work, I decided to get a latte. I ordered a caramel latte.
“Any plans for today?” I asked.
“What do you want to order today?”
I had already ordered my drink. I thought he just forgot about it. Until I asked him again.
“Do you have any plans today?”
“What would you like to drink?” The cashier said.
I was confused. I never talked to him or asked him any questions before, and this is the first answer I get from him. Was there something wrong with everyone, not just me?
I went to work again. Waved hi. They waved back but never made conversation. During break, I decided to get a latte. I stood behind Allison, the employee of the month, the beautiful one, in line when she ordered a caramel latte. I tapped her on the shoulder and decided to make conversation.
“Hey, I get that same order too! Who knew someone else would love a basic.”
“Wait, you what?” She said.
“I also grab a caramel latte every other morning or so.”
That was when she grabbed a chair from the seat and threw it at the worker. I was shocked, but not because of that. Because the chair went right through the worker. Like it was unreal. Like the life I was living was a glitch.
“You see this?” She said. “Everyone here is fake. We are in a simulation. Once you talked to me, I knew you were the next person. I’m just like you–I woke up here one day, not knowing why or what happened. All I knew was that I had to get ready for work. The cashier said the same thing to me every day, and so did the workers. They never talked back to me.”
“Wait–What? What’s happening? Why are we the ones stuck in here?”
“I don’t know either. I don’t know why the Gods up there chose us to live in this simulation.”
“So, how do we escape?”
“I don’t know. This same exact situation happened to me, when I first came here. Someone ordered a caramel latte right in front of me, and I decided to talk to them. They were the first one that has ever replied back, and told me their situation. All I remember is that they worked hard everyday and eventually made enough money to leave work, and then they left. So that’s why I’m working my hardest so I can leave this place. It’s lonely here. I’ve almost made enough money.”
So that is what I did. I worked. I worked, worked, worked, not knowing when I would be able to leave, but at least I cured the missing part of myself. I made a friend.
They were the chosen ones. Blonde, blue eyes, the body I would die for. They had all the friends, they could get any boyfriend they wanted. I wasn’t like them. I couldn’t get a boyfriend, trying or not. When I walked the halls at school, I would get stared at. So, I walked to the side of the school to my classes. The jocks at school always made fun of me, and I felt unsafe and uncomfortable. I didn’t have anyone to lean onto either. That was until I met Trisha. Trisha had beautiful hair like Rapunzel, and I thought she was the perfect friend to have. She found me in the bathroom stalls during lunch.
“Anyone in there… Cathy? Are you okay? I don’t want you sitting in here during lunch every day. Please talk to me. I’m here for you.”
“Y-yeah… I’m here. I’m okay.” I came out of the stall, and she immediately hugged me. That was when I felt a sense of relief. I felt safe. I never knew Trisha cared about others feelings, since no one else did.
My mom passed away two years ago. I didn’t process it quickly because I was only twelve. But it still hurts–knowing she won’t be here for my high school or college graduation, and she won’t be able to see me walk down the aisle. I love everyone, but I love her. She loved the mugs I made out of clay, and carried it with her everywhere she went like it had two tiny legs, a bald head and tiny arms. She took time out of her own day to spend time with me, even if it meant skipping work. She loved me like a mama bird and her children. She wasn’t like any other mom. She was my mom. And now she’s gone, and I never appreciated it enough. No one could love me like she loved me, and I won’t love anyone more than I’ve loved her.
Alone, But Not
A group of three. Us three best friends–Me, Taylor, and Bethany. We had been best friends for years, since sixth grade, and now in tenth. The only problem was that Bethany and Taylor were best friends before me, since they were in preschool. Getting to know the two of them, they were always closer to one another. They told each other secrets, but never told me, or I would be the last to find out. I felt left out. But in school, everyone knew us as the trio. They didn’t know what I actually felt. But whenever I was alone, my other friends would ask, “Where’s Taylor and Bethany?” all the time. They knew Bethany and Taylor were closer. But no one knew it hurt me. Everyone has a different perspective of this. But if you’re in first person, only you can really experience and know what it feels like to be left out. I felt left out, in a room full of people. My soul was never really satisfied, because I knew that I was alone inside.
Expectations Don’t Become Reality
We didn’t have anything. I grew up in a town called Burlington, where the streets were dirty and the houses were small.
One day Evie and I were walking through the dirty alleys when a big man with a beard approached us. Young ladies, would you like to buy these lottery tickets? I’ll sell it to ya for one kiss on the cheek each. Especially you, in the long, gorgeous dress. That was Evie. I was wearing baggy jeans and a hoodie. The men always admired Evie more, but I only thought to myself about it. We looked at each other for a second. I remembered back then when my mom would always buy those yellow papers that you would scan at the local 7-Eleven. She told us it was a chance at winning a billion bucks. She told us someday we’ll live in Beverly Hills with the view of the “Hollywood” sign. She told us she’d find a good job so we could eat In-N-Out everyday. I believed it since I was in preschool, but now I’m in high school, and I’ve started to doubt it.
We came home with two lottery tickets. It was normally time for dinner, but we’re not normal. Mom and dad were out all day since early morning doing whatever they did. We practically lived off of nothing but whatever was in the fridge and whatever we could find.
Dad isn’t our dad. Not our real one at least. We have no clue who he is. Mom was taking care of us alone for our whole lives, until she got married to Andy, seven years ago. Before those seven years, Mom, Evie and I were broker than ever. I didn’t realize this until she got married to him. We never asked who our real dad was or where he was, because we knew we weren’t gonna get an answer. Even though we were struggling, we still had more fun together than we did now. Morning trips to McDonald’s, mini golfing once a month, warm baths once a month, and somehow she would always get free clothes at stores, even though we had to run away as soon as we left the store.
I told mom I had found these lottery tickets on the floor, never telling Andy because we know the type of person he is. He would take it and leave us. Ally, why don’t you throw those away? You know those aren’t going to work. I wasted all my money on nothing. I don’t want you to end up like me, like a disaster, like a bad mom. I never went to school because I couldn’t afford it. I’m glad you’re getting the education you need. But what if there’s a million dollars in there? Evie says. It’s not like we bought this with our own money anyway, we can’t afford it. I don’t mean it in a bad way–I’m just saying that we won’t become addicted to it, I told her.
I picked up a quarter from the coin bucket we carried. I began to scratch the numbers off of the paper. The lucky numbers were 24, 17, 33, 29, and 30. I scratched the first. 24. A match. An 18. A 32. A 28. A 17. A 29. A 34. A 22. A 31. A 30. One more. I just need one more. Last number, I scratched. A 27.
I told you, Mom says. There’s still one left, I told her. I began scratching. One match. One miss. One miss. One match. One match. One miss. One match. One match. They matched. The numbers all matched. Mom, Mom, the numbers! They match! The five numbers match Mom! We won the lottery! She didn’t believe it at first until she picked it up and saw it with her own two eyes. I felt like I was gonna explode with all these happy emotions. We went to the 7-Eleven and verified it with the cashier. He told us the amount of money that we received. One hundred million dollars. At that moment I felt like I had won everything I needed in life. Not even a minute later, two men in ski masks came in and stole the tickets. They ran.
Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay