Jeff Durham stood before Sarah with a worried look on his face. "Sarah, I'm so glad you're here, it's your mother."
"What? What's going on?" Sarah was used to this world by now. This world so different from the waking one. Here she had friends, but here things didn't always make sense. Scenes sometimes shifted in and out of each other without warning. But sometimes things were more coherent. It seemed like this was going to be one of those times.
"She's sick Sarah. We have to go see her!" Jeff took her by the hand and they started to run towards Sarah's house. It wasn't like the one in the waking world, it reminded her a lot of the house she had lived in when she was very young.
They burst through the door into the house. There were dozens of blankets strung up making a kind of a fort in the living room. Sarah pulled the blankets apart and she saw her mother cuddled up in yet more blankets. She was curled up near a heater, but she still looked cold. "Ma!" Sarah ran towards her mother but she held up a hand to stop her daughter.
"Sarah, you have to go downtown and get the medicine. Jeff knows the way. Please help me..." Sarah's moms voice degraded into coughs. Sarah felt her heart breaking for her mother. She'd do anything for her, anything to make her feel better again. Looking at her so sick, it was almost too much for her to bare.
Jeff grabbed Sarah's hand again and pulled her out of the blanket tent. He handed her a long trench coat. He winked at her and said "We'll make it a mission. We'll be like spies!" Sarah would normally complain that they shouldn't be goofing off at a time like this, but she knew Jeff better than that. She put on the trench coat without saying a word and they were off running again.
They finally stopped running at the bus station that was going to take them downtown. Sarah was surprised when it wasn't the city bus that came to pick them up, but instead a tour bus. "Wha?" Sarah tried to say but Jeff hushed her.
"Spies should be quieter" He whispered in her ear.
They road the tour bus around for a bit, a man in the front pointing out the scenery. Sarah was confused, but just went along for the ride. The bus eventually stopped at a very crowded shopping mall and everyone got out. Jeff took Sarah's hand again and they headed towards what looked like a resturant, or perhaps a dancing hall? It was like a combination of the both. It was extremely crowded. Normally Sarah would feel scared with so many people around, but as long as Jeff held her hand she felt safe here.
The crowd danced and pushed against the two of them. Suddenly Sarah's grip on Jeff's hand loosened, and they were separated in the huge crowd. Sarah felt the fear sinking back in her heart, then remembered why they were there. They were there to get the medicine for her sick mother. Worry crowed out the fear in her heart. How would she find the medicine without Jeff? She looked around for him frantically. She saw him at the very back of the dance hall restaurant. There were a bunch of tables sent up in the back and he was talking with a man who was also wearing a trench coat. She had to get to Jeff. She pushed through the crowd as if her life depended on it. She felt like she was hardly making any progress, when suddenly someone grabbed her shoulders. "Sarah!" The voice whispered in her head.
Sarah opened her eyes and saw her mother standing over her bed shaking her gently. "Sarah you have to go to work sweetie." Normally Sarah's mom never woke her up, since Sarah hated to be waken up. She snapped at anyone who did it, but not today. Seeing her mom healthy and smiling almost made Sarah want to cry.
"Thanks ma! I'm up." Sarah sat up and her mom started to leave the room. Suddenly she called out, "WAIT!"
"What's wrong Princess?" Sarah's mom looked worried.
"Oh it's nothing...I just wanted to give you a hug before I went to work." Sarah leaped out of bed with more energy than she normally had and gave her mother a huge hug. Her mother warmly returned the hug. Sarah felt so safe, so happy that her mother wasn't sick. She never wanted to see her mom so sick and venerable again. She released her mom and then looked over at her clock. "Ohmygosh I'm running so late."
Sarah's mom chuckled slightly at her perpetually late daughter. Sarah rushed to get dressed and ran to her car, too worried about being late to worry about the meeting she was going to have with her boss. As she drove to work though, her worries about getting fired started to fill her head. She tried to distract herself by thinking about her latest dream. Jeff had been there, but Jeff was always there. She wondered if she had gotten her mom the medicine she needed, but that was silly, it was just a dream after all. Her real mother was fine. Sarah had so many worries on her mind, she felt as if she was going to have a panic attack.
Sarah arrived at the factory, and she sat in her car breathing heavily, trying to calm herself down. She didn't want to get out of the car and face whatever was going to happen in there. She wanted to start her car and just drive far away. She scolded herself, she couldn't run away from her problems. She had been doing that all her life, escaping to her normally happier dream life. She had to face this head on, and deal with the consequences of her actions.
Seagulls cried out in the parking lot, feeding on garbage that had been scattered around. Sarah looked at them and laughed, remembering how her mother always called them garbage gulls instead of seagulls. Then she remembered the joke her mother had told her when she was much younger. Why do seagulls fly over the sea? Cause if they flied over the bay, they'd be bagels!
Sarah burst out laughing in her car, probably looking insane to anyone who happened to pass by. With that joke in her head she finally had the courage to get out of her car. She walked in the front door, showing her employee badge to the security guard just inside the door. She didn't get much further inside the building before her boss stopped her.
"Sarah, please come into my office." Enoch said in an agitated tone. Sarah gulped and headed into the office.
"Sarah, you did a no call no show yesterday, you know that is unaccepted right?" Sarah nodded as Enoch took out her employee file from a drawer. "You were written up twice before for being tardy. You had your final warning that if you were late again you would be terminated."
Sarah blinked back tears that were coming towards her eyes. "But...I...uhh..."
"Sarah, please no more excuses. I'm afraid we have to let you go." Enoch said without much emotion in his voice.
The air in the room felt unnaturally cold to Sarah. Her mind raced trying to think of what was the proper thing to do in this situation, what she should say. She wanted to scream, she wanted to punch Enoch in his face. Sarah pulled herself together and said, "Thank you very much Mr. Gomez. I appreciate the work experience I gained while employed here. " She held out her hand to shake. Enoch looked at her with a indifferent expression plastered across his face. He shook her hand, and then Sarah put her employee badge on his desk and left.
She went to her car, her hands shaking so bad that she could hardly open the door. She drove home trying her best to drive safely since she was so upset she could hardly see straight. She didn't cry not yet. She drove not thinking of anything, let the world race past her.
Sarah arrived home and parked her car, and unlocked the front door. Her mother was standing in the hallway looking through some mail. Sarah looked at her helplessly and cried out "Ma!" and ran towards her. She broke down utterly and cried into her mother's arms.
"Shhh Sarah it's ok, I'm here for you. It's ok." Sarah felt comforted in her mother's arm. She felt all the stress and worry over the past few days start to melt away as she cried.
"They fired me mommy...they fired me I'm so sorry."
"You don't have to apologize to me Princess. It will be ok, we'll make it through this. We've made it through everything else. Everything will be ok."
The reassurances from her mother made Sarah feel so much better, but she continued to let her mother hold her awhile longer. Somehow it felt like her whole entire life was torn down before her in one day. But here she always felt safe. It would be ok, Sarah thought. Somehow it would be ok.
After that day that Sarah's life feel down around her, she spent a few days just cooped up in her room. She had several sleepless nights just thinking about how much of a failure she had been to her mother. How was she supposed to help her mother out now? Then the realization came to Sarah that nothing would change if she just stayed in the house. She had to go out there and find a new job. She couldn't let her mother carry to burden of paying for everything. She knew her mother would manage to make it work somehow, but that wouldn't be fair. Sarah didn't want to take all her mother's money. She was an adult now, and she had to pay for herself.
Sarah also felt like this could be a turning point in her life. She had always been so shy, always keeping everyone out. Now she could get a new job, and perhaps, she could become a new person. She could break out of the shell that she had been in for so long and maybe make some friends. Real ones, not like the ones she had in her dreams. This could be the best thing that had ever happened to her. Sarah felt so much better, and motivated to get out and find a new job.
The next few days were a storm of filling out applications and making phone calls. Finally Sarah got an interview at a department store near where her mother worked. Sarah dressed in her best clothes, tried and failed to make her hair look normal, and made her way to the interview.
The weather was starting to cool down now that summer was winding down. The leaves were starting to get tints of yellow and orange. This was Sarah's favorite time of year, yet it always seemed like she had little time to enjoy it before winter stormed it's way in. Sarah breathed in the cool air letting it refresh herself. She didn't want to be nervous for this interview. She needed this job. She breathed in again and enjoyed the autumn sights. No, there was no point in getting nervous now, she thought to herself, just be yourself and you'll be fine.
Sarah walked in the department store, and turned towards the customer service desk. "Um well I have an interview today with a Ms. Coldwell." The cashier at the desk nodded and made a phone call. Soon a tall lady with blonde hair all wrapped up in a bun came out.
"Ms Pinkerton?" The lady said. Sarah nodded. "Nice to meet you, I am Debra Coldwell, come with me please."
They started walking, and in fact went out the front doors. Ms Coldwell started talking to Sarah. "Well have you ever worked in a department store before? Do you have customer experience?"
"Well no, but my mom is the manager for the Macy's so I know a lot about the business."
Ms Coldwell bent down to pick up some garbage that was in front of the store. Sarah noticed some more near her and she bent down to pick it up as well. Ms Coldwell gave a slight smile, and went on with her questions. "Well you know then that this job isn't easy, do you think you are up to the task?"
"I can do it! I know I don't have a lot of experience, but I'm willing to learn." Sarah felt slightly desperate, and she was trying to not let it show in her voice.
Ms Coldwell laughed slightly and lead Sarah back inside the building. "Well do you have reliable transportation here?"
"Oh yes I have my own car." Sarah smiled. She couldn't tell if the interview was going well or not. It was probably the strangest interview she had ever been on.
"Do you think you'll stay with the company for a long time?" Ms Coldwell continued with the questions as they walked down a department filled with women's clothing.
"Well I'll stay as long as you'll have me."Sarah laughed to herself.
"And it said on your resume that you were fired from you last job, why was that?"
"Ummm..." Sarah felt full of anxiety. She had been fearing this question. "I was late too many times. But I won't let that happen again. I am determined now!"
"Sarah I like you. I like your attitude. Do you think you can be in Wednesday at ten am for your orientation?"
Sarah was flabbergasted. Had she just been hired right on the spot? She must have done something right, but she felt like she hadn't done anything really impressive. "Of course! I can be here earlier if you need me."
"Oh that's ok Sarah. Make sure you bring your ID with you on Wednesday." Ms Coldwell smiled at Sarah. Sarah felt joy spreading into her heart. She had done it. She wanted to cheer and run up and down the isles.
"Thank you so much Ms Coldwell. I'll be here Wednesday." Sarah shook Ms Coldwell's hand.
"You can call me Debbie, we are going to be working together from now on." Sarah nodded and smiled happily. She thought to herself that this was going to work out well. She liked Debbie so much more than Enoch at her last job. This job seemed so much better than her last job. She didn't say that out loud, instead she said her goodbyes and made her way to the door.
Sarah was nearly skipping by the time she got to the front door she was so ecstatic. When was about to leave she turned around to take another good look at the place that would be her job from now on. That's when she saw something that knocked the wind right out of chest and almost made her call out before she got ahold of herself. She turned around and made her way out the door calming herself down. She couldn't have seen what she thought she just saw. There was no way that Jeff could be here at this department store.
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