The cool air breezed by and the siren from an ambulance close by caused me to check my surrounding with extreme caution while shivering uncontrollably.
I sneezed loudly for the sixth time, sniffling as I wrapped my arms around myself before plopping down the bench set for passengers at the bus stop. A yawn escaped my pink lips as I settled in as best as I could. Using the back of my hand to cover my mouth, I shook my head to dispel the drowsy feeling I had been combatting all night as I sauntered from one client to another.
”Just some minutes more and youll be home, ” I muttered sleepily, taking in the environment before checking the time on my phone.
Stared back at me. The thought of being alone on the street of New York at this ungodly hour had me praying for a bus to magically appear out of thin air. I didn like walking the streets at night.
Not after my colleague at the club, Hillary, got raped and murdered brutally. Yet, here I was late in the night, or should I say early in the morning, stuck at the bus stop while waiting for a bus that, may or may not come. My hope of catching some zs before it was time to open our bakery was gradually strolling away with time. A street dog barking nearby had me glancing up from my phone to examine the area again like I hadn already done it before. The whole street looked so deserted, except for some few souls hurriedly walking to wherever it was they were headed. I snuggled deeper into my old beat-up leather jacket that had seen better days, trying to starve off the early morning cold. I wouldn have been in this dilemma if someone with light fingers had not gone to pick my locker to steal all the cash I had stashed in my pink granny purse.
With nothing to do as I waited, memories from hours back came crashing through the walls I had sealed them behind. And just like the time the incident occurred, my eyes brimmed with tears. I refused to cry then because my enemies would gloat. No way was I going to cry with them watching. Common sense should have made me stick around till it was daybreak, but nothing was normal at that time. I bit my lip to prevent myself from yelling out in anger.
I really needed that job and it seemed like I wouldn have it come the next day. The thought of losing the tips had me baulking; on those tips alone, I was able to gather enough money to pay the rent of our bakery for the first half of the year. Losing it now would mean losing something reliable, although the job was by far the most dangerous job I had ever done. The atmosphere was nauseating and disrespectful; having to strut around in black six-inch heels and undies, as you served men from far and wide without a shred of regard for women.
It was not what I intended to do for the rest of my life, no matter how promising the tips were. But it was something I needed for now. My morning job paid less than this one did, but it afforded me the time I required to work on some cloth designs for winter. Being one of the top designers for the house of Daliah was my biggest dream. Well, apart from owning my own fashion house, that is.
Every of their design was always a sight to behold.
It all began when I watched the creator of the fashion house, Madam Daliah, on Tv when I was just ten. She ignited my love for fashion with her fiery expression when she spoke of her work. So every night I would cover my conscience and my face with a mask, and then put on a pair of nothings created to tempt even a monk and begin to wait on the lot of them. I hated the job, but not as much as I did my boss. The serpent couldn keep his slimy hands to himself. Having slept with more than half of his girls, both the dancers and waiters, the unsatisfied freak wanted to add me to his number of casualties. I called it casualties because that was what it was.
No way was my first time going to be with the soul-sucking parasite. It was astonishing that most of the girls found him attractive. They spoke of him with such abandon that I couldn help but wonder if he hadn charmed their brains out of their skulls.
A smile brightened my weary features as I imagined him swinging a coin in pendulum fashion, commanding the girls to find him attractive. What started as a small smile grew into a wild laugh as the image became a cringe-worthy film. I was still laughing when a car zoomed out of a corner and sped towards the other side of the road. I jumped up and watched in horror as the black chevy sports car narrowly missed hitting an old homeless man, who had picked that time to cross the road. The sharp turning the crazy driver executed to prevent collision with the clueless man caused the car to make an awful screeching noise before flipping three times. Everywhere became deathly still and the air was filled with enough smoke that I couldn see much of the car, but I didn think twice as I rushed to the car. On getting there, I discovered the driver was knocked out cold, with blood dripping from a large cut on the side of his head. I knew shifting him from his position could do more harm than good, so I tried to rouse him awake. I screamed Mr repeatedly, waiting for an answer, but I got nothing. Turning my head to the side, I found the hobo staring at the driver with his bloodshot eyes, his lips blue and shaky as he repeatedly said the words.
Its not my fault.
Not having time for his meltdown, I grabbed him by the collar of his coat and forced him to look at me.
”I need you to take my phone and call the hospital. ” I announced, staring into his dark blue eyes behind his dirty face. He blinked slowly like his brain wasn comprehending what I was saying which only got me incensed enough to snap at him to hurry. When he took my phone and went to do as ordered, I returned my attention to the stranger, trying not to panic as I saw the amount of blood he was losing. Still, in panic mode, I tried to free him from the seat belt that refused to budge.
It was at that moment I recognized him as the stalking asshole who tried to force himself on me earlier this night. The fool had even dared to inform me that I would be handsomely rewarded like I was some cheap prostitute. He was the reason I was about to lose my not-so-perfect job. I caught a whiff of gasoline and looked around. When I saw gasoline spreading on the ground, dread filled my heart and I won lie, the thought of abandoning this guy and saving myself occurred to me.
The homeless man noticed it too because he took off running….with my phone. I picked myself off the floor and turned to save myself, but after taking a few steps, my legs stopped cooperating.
Move, Nadia. Move
I yelled at myself, but I was stuck. My dreams and aspirations suddenly began to remind me of all I stood to lose if I didn get a move on. I was so confused sweat broke out on my face.
He is dead. He didn answer your calls, remember? Do you want to risk your life to save a dead body?
My mind was churning out different thoughts to motivate me to run towards safety, but still, my legs refused to move.
”Someone please, help me. ” I heard the same voice that had laughed at me as my boss publicly humiliated me for being rude to his long-time friend, now crying out for my help. I remembered how my blood boiled and the idea of retribution filled my head. Now, here I was and fate was handing me a chance to serve justice. I took a step and another step and then another away from the car.
”Honey, what did I tell you? ”
I heard my moms voice say as clear as day, making me stop in my tracks.
”To repay evil with good. ” I heard my eight-year-old self reply.
Tears streamed down my face as the parts of a fuzzy memory joined together to recreate the scene where my mom had come to take me home after I fought with Lizzy the witch in grade school.
”Lizzy deserved it though. She pulled Jamies hair and called her a black hippo. She started it. ”
I said as I pleaded with tears in my eyes for my hero to understand why I had punched Lizzy. Mom brought me close, burying my face in her chest before whispering into my red hair.
”Many of us in this world is wicked, we don think about the pain we cause others. We only seek our happiness. Despite what is done to us, it pays to remain good. ”
She pulled me away so she could use her hand to wipe away my tears.
Good attracts good, Nadia. Be a good person.
Because of those words, I found myself returning to the upturned, damaged beyond-repair car.
And I began to try to save the last person I felt like saving.
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