The music store I applied to finally called me this morning. They said I should be there by five in the afternoon tomorrow or I could forget about the job. Dear Lord, they could have atleast tried to be nice.
All my life I’ve been told I would make it to Yale; even Harvard if I tried harder. Summer started two days ago with me filling an application to Jonah’s Music Ball downtown. But mom found the acceptance letter to Harvard before me and oh, let me die. You see, when I was in seventh grade all I wanted to do in life was go to Harvard. I thought all the teasing for being intelligent could be worth it. Now those dreams were left behind and I wanted to stay in Cincinnati and go to university and make my life here. Though I never told mom before and now, here I am.
The past days, mom had been working nonstop on her new book. The publisher called yelling at her for not having a book for summer.
“I’m working on it, Tommy,” she said.
This situation meant her room was off limits and Louis and I had to deal with our crap on our own. Louis was two years older than me and wasted most of his time playing the drums for a band I didn’t know the name of. He slept for hours and hours and when he woke up, he was cranky as hell. With this, I felt the woman of the century. I washed the dishes, cleaned the house, fed the dog and unsurprisingly ran behind Louis to make him get the smell of rotten pizza out of his room.
I picked up the cup of coffee and took a small sip. I saw a woman outside running behind two toddlers who yelled and laughed maniacally. Rodrigo sat in front of me and seemed relaxed as he sipped on his smoothie. When I called him and said I had an interview at Jonah’s, he yelled with me because he knows me and my appreciation for music really well. He knows how my walls are full of The Beatles posters and a box in the corner of the room is full of vinyls and old CD’s. But really working at a music store isn’t really music appreciation. I would sell CD’s of artists I have never heard of and help people decide between AC/DC or Metallica. I still looked up to it, though.
“What were you thinking when you received the call?”
I smiled lightly. “Nothing, really. My mind went blank like always.”
He nodded and took another sip of the smoothie. Strawberry banana. “You know Marla, you could really be something in the music industry if you tried.”
“Yes but mom wouldn’t approve of that even if I paid her. Do you think,” I drank some coffee, “she would want that when she is a New York Best Seller?”
“No but it’s your life, Marla. You’re eighteen now, you’re not mommy’s little baby anymore.”
He was right. I had let my mother control me for so many years and I was tired of it. I knew it could be a complete disaster but what Rodrigo said is true. I’m eighteen now and I’m not a baby anymore. She made me model for four years when I asked for piano classes instead and then, when I asked for swimming lessons she sent me to my grandma’s all summer. She wanted me to be some role model but honestly I don’t want to be.
“Rodrigo! Your break is over,” the woman behind the counter of the coffee shop we were in yelled. “and come on, I want to leave.”
Rodrigo stood up and picked his half drank smoothie. He sighed and looked at the woman who had made her way to us after she finished talking. “Table number five wants a moccha, two sugars and a lot of whip cream.” She chucked a handkerchief at his hands and left through the transparent door on the left.
He looked at me and shrugged. “I’ll see you later, yeah?” he started walking away but then stopped and turned around, “Think about what I said.”
I nodded and picked up my cup of coffee. I drank the last components of it and stood up. I walked over to the garbage can and threw the cup inside then I turned around and left the coffee shop without looking back at Rodrigo.
Outside the air was cold for being a summer morning and I wished I had brought my black cardigan with me. People were rushing out of stores and walking around with a busy aura. I watched as two girls around my age walked down the street and into Jonah’s Music Ball. One of them wore a red skinny jean with a stripped shirt and the other had jean shorts and a black t-shirt that read ‘ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE’ in big red letters. I found myself following them and walking into Jonah’s with a goofy smile on my face. Once I was inside, I smelled coconut and chocolate in the air. I looked around and in the back corner was the mini coffee and sweets shop I saw the day I came to fill the application. In the center of the room were different sized tables with lots of boxes with CD’s and vinyls in them. To the right was the cash register were a man around his thirties hanged around with a bored expression but to the left was the ‘ROCK/INDIE & UK’ area I liked so much. A black curtain divided the real music store from what was inside and just like every day, I went into the curtain and inside a magic world. The walls were orange and black and in a corner all lined beside each other were this computers with headphones where you chose the CD you wanted and rocked to it at a high volume.
This place was empty today except for a boy, I guessed, with his back to me and a beanie on his head. His shoulders were covered with a black cardigan and black jeans adorned his legs. I looked him over once again and saw the combat boots on his feet and the tattoo on the back of his neck. He didn’t hear me coming in considering he had the huge headphones around his head, covering his ears. I walked around the center table and to the one that was labeled ‘THE BEATLES’ but I had a record of being clumsy and this was no day to hide it; I hit my foot with the table and went crashing to the floor bringing with my self a big box full of posters. I fell with a big crash and the posters all around me. Uh-oh, I thought. I could feel my cheeks getting red with embarrassment and I didn’t dare open my eyes. I moved my hand around and my fingers grazed the posters box. A humilliating sound, like a donkey moan, came out of my mouth.
“Are you okay?”
I opened my eyes in a second and they roamed to the direction the voice came from. The boy from before was now around, his front to me. I studied him intently; dark hazel eyes, light brown hair, amazing jawline…
I shooked my head and snapped out of whatever I was getting into. I opened my mouth but nothing came out. He opened his eyes a little more in a ‘go on’ kind of way. I closed mine and sighed.
“This is humilliating,” I blurted. I automatically closed my mouth and my eyes widened. Ah, this couldn’t get any worse.
I heard a laugh come from the boy’s mouth, “Oh, this is the poster I’ve been looking for everywhere!” He reached down and grabbed the rolled up poster beside my thigh. He took the rubber band out and opened it, holding the top with his right hand and the bottom with his left. His eyes looked bright and the smile that graced his lips was undeniable happiness.
I decided it was time to stand up and pick up the mess I made. I expected to meet the guys gaze when I was up and steady but I was wrong. He was nowhere to be seen. I looked around once then twice but he vanished, the poster gone with the wind too. I sighed and picked up the box, putting each poster inside carefully. Once I finished, the box was neatly in place and I walked over to the curtain and smelled fresh coffee and cake but the guy was nowhere to be seen. I smiled lightly. This place was the one I’ll be working at if I passed the interview. Not really pass but ace. I liked this place. The guy at the cash register looked me over and back to the magazine he was flipping through. I smoothed my shirt and walked to the door and was hit in the face with hot air. Smells like business.
It was 2:30 pm. I brushed my hair and straightened my bangs. I picked up my small messenger bag and made my way downstairs. Mom was in the kitchen drinking some coffee and I tried my best to pass unnoticed but it was no use.
“Where are you going, Marla?”
I stuttered, “I-I uh, I’m going to town with Rodrigo,” I sighed. “Yeah, with Rodrigo.”
She looked me up and down and narrowed her eyes. “Have fun.”
I reached the door at light speed and opened the door to my car. Dad had sent me the money from England to get a new car for my eighteenth birthday. I was happy and I couldn’t contain my excitement when mom took mo to the dealership. The ignition went into full blast when I turned the key.
The neighborhood was a quiet one. You could find nice houses in every corner and elderly couples having a good time with their dogs. When I was almost out of here, I saw the doctor from the hospital out of town. He was Dr. Lucious and he was behind my mother as much as she was behind him. They had gone into a few dates and I got to the conclusion it always went well because next week they were off to a high class restaurant or to spend time at some party for business people.
He saw me and waved but I kept my face forward. I never liked him nor his daughter Laura. She made my life hell through high school, so why would I bother thanking him for making my mom oh-so-happy when she was sad? I passed the café shop Rodrigo worked at and saw him walking in. Probably his shift was starting soon and he liked to be there earlier.
Rodrigo’s my best friend since diapers. My mom and his mom went to uni together and automatically they got me and him together for everything. Even when we went out together as babies, we were dressed to match. In the seventh grade, we went out for a week but knew it wouldn’t work out. It was a funny thing to do, really. Awkward was the appropriate way to describe it. He walked me to the classroom but them everyone would be looking and he got embarrased. Aw.
A parking spot in front of Jonah’s was free. I could feel the nervousness bubbling inside of me, in the pit of my stomach. I turned the car off and got out. I exhaled loudly and started walking to the big transparent door that awaited me. I was hit with the same smell of coffee and sweets I had been hit with the day before. The same guy was behind the cash register and I guessed he was Jeremiah, the one who called me. I walked towards him and was greeted with the now normal bored expression.
“What can I help you with, girl?”
“I uh,” I swallowed. “I’m here for the interview. I’m Marla Loxely.”
He narrowed his eyes and licked his lips in a not-creepy way. “Of course you are. Do you know how to use a cash register? No, do you know how to make coffee? Arrange CD’s maybe?”
I could feel my nerves high now. Sweat was forming in the corners of my forehead and I subconsciously wiped it away with my thumb.
“Yes,” I said a little bit too enthusiastically. “I do. I worked at the book store down the street before and I do coffee for me all the time. I also have a box full of CD’s that are alphabetically ordered.”
His eyes navigated my body from head to toe and then they fixated on my face. “Go fix the box of CD’s inside the rock and indie room,” he smirked, “by the name of the album not the artist.” Then he winked.
I sighed annoyingly and went inside the black and orange room. Way to go, Jeremiah. I looked around until my eyes found a bright yellow box in the table beside the music computers. My hand roamed inside and I pulled out an album. Bombay Bicycle Club: Flaws it read. I put it aside and picked another one, this time it was Florence and the Machine. I studied the cover looking for the name of it, Lungs. I moved it below the one I took out before.
“Are you organizing those?”
I jumped a few feets in the air and screeched. Yes, screeched. I turned around fast with my hand holding the place my heart is at. His beanie was gone and his light brown hair was in full view. The eye liner was noticeable now and his cardigan and boots were still there.
“Give me a heart attack,” I muttered. “Do you come here all the time?”
“Of course,” he chuckled. “Beatles girl, The Beatles.”
I looked him over and focused my attention on the CD’s again, starting to pick up a few more and putting them aside. I felt him walk and stand beside me. He was looking at me, I knew it. His hand reached forward and he took away from my hand the one I picked a few seconds ago.
“Hm,” he licked his lips. “I want this one. Hey, do you need help?”
“No, I can handle it.”
He chuckled. “Are you sure? Because that sure is a big hell of a box.”
I was never good with talking to boys. When I did, especially to attractive ones, I seemed to find the bitch inside of me. It decided to come out at the most unnecessary times. I looked at him and a little frown covered his face. I felt bad all of a sudden. He had tried to be nice but yesterday when I fell and went tumbling down with the box of posters, he picked one and left.
By the time my eyes rolled to meet his again, he was gone. I sighed and sat on the floor cross-legged. I stretched my arms up and picked the box. I positioned it beside me and roamed around it. I took a few albums out and put some in again. That’s how I spent the next five hours. When 7:00pm came around, Jeremiah went inside the little room and said he was closing soon and that I should go home. First pay day was next Friday and today was just Wednesday. I guess I can handle this.
“Mom left this for you.”
Louis extended his hand and handed me something that was covered in newspaper. She left early this morning for some writer’s convention in Indiana. We were left alone for days when conventions came on. The good thing was I got Sarah Dessen’s autographed books.
“What is it?” I asked. “She didn’t say she was going to leave something for me.”
I picked up an apple from the table in the kitchen and sat down. Louis looked like he was thinking and I knew what was coming. “She told me but I forgot.” With that he turned around and left, the front door doing a banging sound seconds later.
I turned the package around in my hands a few times. I tore the newspaper apart and gasped. A beaten copy of Please Please Me by The Beatles was smiling back at me. I grasped it in my hands. I stood up and jumped around the table almost knocking a plastic glass by accident. I couldn’t believe my mom got me the thing I had been pulling my hair for the past months. The first The Beatles album and I had it in my hands. I ran up the stairs and into my room. Kneeling in front of the bed, I pulled out the box where all my CD’s layed neatly. I sat on the floor gazing longingly at the album. My fingers grazed the corners and I pushed it open. It felt so fragile I thought it might break in my hands. My eyes took in everything I saw inside. A smile started forming on my lips. Then I saw a paper—almost yellow because of the years maybe—tucked in the corner. It was folded nicely and had what seemed like nice cursive writing in black ink inside it. My fingers reached for it but I stopped myself before doing it. It could be a letter or something simple but who knew? I wanted to open it, read it and see what was inside. Maybe a big secret or a big confession.
I sighed and closed my eyes. My fingers felt around until they touched the paper. I opened my eyes now and pulled the paper out with such force I thought it ripped apart. I reluctantly and slowly opened it. My eyes narrowed and a cold rush of air passed through my body. I’ve never been good with secrets or mysteries or anything. But as I saw and read what the paper said, I felt myself knowing this was going to be big, huge.
I’m from the old state of Indiana. I bought this used copy of The Beatles from a young man from London. A year later, I knew I was getting older. I gave this to my grand child, Alejandro’s son. He was happy. He liked The Beatles so much, that boy. His name is Conrad and he moved away when he was thirteen to live with his uncle in Ohio. He didn’t have any other choice but to go. His uncle, a big doctor, knew better than to take him and hold him as his own son. By the time someone reads this I must be dead. But I wish for you to do me a last favor. I want you to find Conrad and give him this. He left it at home when he moved and he deserves this. Whoever you are, please.
I tossed and turned around in the bed after I finished talking to Rodrigo. When I was about to tell him about the letter I found hidden inside the CD, I hold back and said nothing. I couldn’t sleep because all I could think of was where mom got this. If she bought it, it should have cost a fortune but if she found it, she didn’t know what she wasn’t getting herself or rather me into.
The clock read 4:30am. I yawned tiredly and adjusted my pillow. Somehow I found my mind wandering to the guy from Jonah’s. How his cardigan covered his arms and his dark cleaned boots shined in the light. I knew we had one thing in common and that was our appreciation for music. Jeremiah called around 9:30pm yesterday when I was already in bed reading a new copy of Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. He said I should be there around 11:00am because I was taking care of the cash register. I begged him to let me out before five in the afternoon. At seven I was leaving with Rodrigo and Monica to a gig at Lino’s. Monica was Rodrigo’s third girlfriend—they were not together now—and a really close friend of mine. Lino’s was right down the music store. The door was almost below the floor and every Thursday you could feel the pumping of the bass of some rock band that was paid to play that night. I liked it there. The walls were full of old pictures and posters but most of all, antique things of different bands, some I adore and some not.
I heard a noise from downstairs and remembered Louis wasn’t here when I went to bed. He must be drunk but he’s a big boy now. I heard tumbling up the stairs and then his door open and close. I sighed and flicked on the light from the bed side table lamp. I stood up and walked to the window. I opened the curtain and looked outside. Down the road, a guy around my age was walking. With every step he took he neared the house. My eyes found themselves looking at him intently when I recognized the cardigan and the dark boots. It was the guy from Jonah’s! I put my sandals on and opened the door to my room. I ran down the stairs and stopped in front of the front door. I needed to apologize to him fro being a complete cold bitch before. It was unintentional but I was afraid during mid-apology it would come out again. Without thinking I opened the door and yelled out at him.
He stopped in his tracks and turned around slowly. When he saw me standing in front of the door in just a tank top and pajama bottoms, he looked confused. “You are the girl from the music store! You fell with the box of posters,” he chuckled.
Oh, joy. Of all the things he could have remembered, he remembers that one.
“Y-yeah,” I stuttered. “I wanted to say I-I’m sorry for before. I was such a bitch but I can’t help it when I’m around guys like you. Attractive, if you know what I mean. I am really sorry and I should just quit my job at Jonah’s but I love music and-”
“You think I’m attractive?” he smirked.
My mouth was shut and my eyes widened. I can’t believe I just said that. I am such a dork and stupid person! First, I fall in front of him and then I’m a complete bitch to him but then I come and apologize and I start rambling and say he’s attractive. Way to go!
He chuckled. “Are you there?”
I shook my head and looked at him. “Y-yeah.”
Walking a little bit closer to me, he extended his hand reluctantly as if I was going to eat it off. “I’m Conrad and you are?”
I reached for his hand a little bit too eagerly. “Marla.”
He nodded and moved his head around looking anywhere but my face. “What are you walking at 4 in the morning all alone?”
He looked taken back by my forwardness but cleared his throat and answered. “When I need to think a bit I walk around the neighborhood for a while.”
“You live here?”
He chuckled and assented with his head. “I should get going. See ya later, Marla,” he winked then turned around walking in the direction he had been before. “Wait,” I yelled. He stopped but did not turn around. I sighed and opened my mouth, “Where do you live?”
“Why so eager to know, babe?”
I swallowed and shook my head but then notived he couldn’t see me. “F-forget it,” I stuttered. “I’ll go sleep.”
He started walking again and I took this as the queue for me to go inside. I closed the front door slowly, as if not to wake Louis up, and made my way to the stairs. I climbed them with no energy and reached the last door to the left or better known as my room. After closing the door, I went to the curtains and gazed outside again. He was no longer there but the light from the moon was. I sighed audibly and pulled them shut, turning off the bed side table lamp. The bed was cold because of the time I hadn’t been laying there. I pulled the covers over me and turned around to look at the Please Please Me album. I grabbed it and opened it. My eyes roamed around looking for the letter until settling upon it, resting itself in the same corner where I found it. Opening it, I assumed nothing had changed. The same cursive writing and of course the same name written neatly in the end. I studied the words and looked intently at the name. Conrad. From that moment I knew when I see him later at the store—if he comes—I will ask him. I need to ask him. I would come to you, Conrad Stonem.
Text: angiezapp - Angely Cruz
Publication Date: 07-17-2012
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