Attending school while having a part time job and also having to take over the role of the mother in the house was definitely taking its toll on Andrea. She was currently snoring softly on her desk.
It was during English period, not the best idea to sleep in Mrs. Johnson's class with half of her hair covering her face and the other half sprawled on her desk.
While Mrs. Johnson was reading some Shakespearian poem, Andrea was somewhere on some island far away from South Africa and free of worries and debt, with her entire family laughing and enjoying the sun.
"Can Ms. Andrea Quinn please come to the principal's office?" Mr. Hawkins' voice echoed through the intercom of St. John High School. The girl sitting next to Andrea, elbowed her in her side.
"What? Where am I?" Andrea muttered loudly, jumping in her seat. Her hair was sticking to the drool that was on her face. The class laughed as Andrea looked confusedly around. Andrea was extremely exhausted, last night she had to work for an extra two hours at Stars.
"Ms. Quinn this will be your very last warning. If you sleep in my class one more time, I will not hesitate to give you a detention.” Mrs. Johnson glared through her glasses at Andrea. It still baffled her how Andrea spent most of her periods sleeping and yet she was academically the best student at this school.
"I am so sorry Mrs. Johnson. It will not happen again." Andrea knew she could not afford a detention with the responsibilities she had. Luckily this was her last year of high school and she will have a little less responsibilities next year, thus being better help to her father. Her plans were to pause studies for a while and get a fulltime job.
"That's what you said the last time. Can you please get up, Principal Hawkins is looking for you?" Relieved to escape her grumpy English teacher, Andrea almost ran out of the door.
Reaching the principal's office, she knocked softly on the door. "Come in" Came the principal's voice. She opened the door slowly. "You were looking for me, Mr. Hawkins?"
The friendly face of Mr. Hawkins, who always reminded her of her grandpa Joe met her eyes.
"Ah, Ms Quinn. Please have a seat. I have something of importance to discuss with you." Immediately, Andrea started to worry at the seriousness evident in the principal's tone of voice. Did something happen to Dad or Jason?
Mr. Hawkins chuckled at her expression. "Oh don't look so worried, Andrea. It is definitely not bad news, in fact it is actually pretty good news." The word lines on Andrea's face disappeared and instead her lips formed into a smile as she took a seat opposite the principal.
"I am sure, you have heard of Kingston High School." Mr. Hawkins looked at her questioningly.
"I definitely have. It is only one the best school in Cape Town," Andrea said excitedly "no offence to St. Johnson High, of course." She added sheepishly and Mr. Hawkins smiled.
"No, it is considered the best school in South Africa. It grants the best opportunities and gives security, in terms of future, to any student that attends the school. Any students has a guaranteed chance of getting into their dream university and not many schools offer that kind of security and stability, especially to a student such as yourself, Andrea." Andrea nodded in agreement. She was well aware of the benefits that came with the name Kingston High School.
"I am also sure that you are well aware that not just any student qualify to attend there. Having an average above 75 is one of the requirements to get accepted and as it is a very prestigious school, a student usually comes from an extremely financially stable background. Mr. and Mrs. King, the owners of the school, does however choose one student who does not have a very financially stable background, once a year and gives them a full scholarship. That includes, funding for every single expense with regards to the school." Andrea again nodded her head in agreement, she was aware of everything Mr. Hawkins was telling her. It was every student who did not attend Kingston High School’s dream to attend there.
"The requirement for a scholarship student would be to, as I mentioned, have a 75 percent average but also to maintain it throughout the year." Mr. Hawkins continued.
"I am well aware of all this, Mr. Hawkins. I have done my research on Kingston High before. If I may ask, why are you telling me all of this?"
Mr. Hawkins smiled widely. "Well, this is where the good news comes in. The principal of Kingston High, Mrs. King had phone me this morning and she offered a full scholarship to the top achiever of our school. As you know, that is you, Andrea." Andrea's eyes bulged. Mr. Hawkins smiled, he was very fond of Andrea and knew her father very well. He was aware of the struggles and knew this was one of the greatest opportunities for Andrea that would help her family.
"Are you serious, Mr. Hawkins?"
"Completely. They mailed the invitation letter already. If there is anyone who deserves this opportunity, it is you Andrea."
"Wow! I cannot believe this. I think this is a sign from the universe that I should definitely go to university next year." Mr. Hawkins frowned at that. "You were planning not to go, Andrea?"
"As Sir knows, financially we are really struggling and I was contemplating on finishing high school, forget about tertiary studies and instead look for a better and full time job to help my father with expenses and debts."
"Andrea, I am sure your father would never allow it. You’re a bright young girl who will reach high places if you just keep pushing yourself, amidst your circumstances." Andrea gave Mr. Hawkins a grateful smile.
"Thank your Mr. Hawkins, I am going to miss your pep talks." The principal chuckled. "Well if ever in future you need one, you know where to find me." Andrea laughed. "I will remember that," she said as she stood up, "and send my regards to Mrs. Hawkins and Emilia."
"I will do so. I do not think I will see you again as I am sure you start on Monday. All of the best with your future, Andrea. Make us all proud.”
Andrea drove home filled with excitement and happiness. The thought of not continuing studies was not something she wanted to think about and she really felt like getting this opportunity to study at one of the best high schools in Cape Town was sign from the universe to not give up. Principal Hawkins was right, her father would never allow her to pause her studies.
She parked her very old Mazda in front of their small but modest, house. As she climbed out of her car, she placed her hand on her Mazda, and smiled sadly. It was the last thing she had left of her mother's and the fact that it was on the brink of giving in, saddened her. She would do anything in her power to fix it. Even her father could no longer fix it.
Slowly taking her hand off of her car, she walked to the door and entered the house quietly. She knew her father would be home as it was Friday and he usually comes home early on a Friday.
Andrea closed the door softly and walked in, immediately stepping into living room where her father was situated at the desk opposite their front door. His back facing her. He was looking at some papers in front of him. Her father did not hear her enter and she softly walked to him, placing her hands around his shoulder and kissing his right cheek.
"You're home." He noted, tiredly as he looked up at her. Her heart pained at the sight of his tired eyes and the bags around it. He was a janitor at Kingston Hotel and part-time mechanic and he was always working.
"I have good news." She said excitedly as she remembered her day at school. Jacob Quinn smiled at how much his daughter resembled his late wife, especially the way she smiled. She also had her big brown eyes.
Jacob picked up a closed envelope. "Does your good news have anything to do with this envelope?" He gestured for her to take it and she read that it was from Kingston High. "Yes. Dad, they offered me a full scholarship." Her eyes were lighting up as she spoke and Jacob was grateful. He sometimes worried that she had to be an adult too quickly and was glad to see her sometimes acting like a teenager should. She absolutely deserved this opportunity.
"I am so happy for you."
Andrea excitedly teared opened the envelope, taking out the letter and allowed her eyes to sweep over the contents of the letter. Her smile just grew wider with every word she read. "They promise to pay everything and that includes my uniform, books, you name it." Tears welled up Jacob's eyes, Alana would have been so happy of how their daughter's future is secured.
"Dad are you crying? You're going to make me cry." Jacob gave a teary smile. "I am just so proud, Andy. You attend school, have a part time job, look after Jeremy and do the domestic work and still you manage to excel in your academics. Your mother would have been so proud." Andrea leaned in for hug, her eyes tearing up as well. "Thanks Dad. I am just happy to help." She muttered in his shoulder.
"You deserve every bit of this and so much more."
"Okay, stop Dad, before I bawl my eyes out." Jacob lets out a chuckle and pulls away from his daughter. "Okay, okay. I am done being sweet. I know once you start crying there is now stopping you." Andrea laughed. It was true, she was such an emotional person, another trait passed down to her from her mother.
"I am going to eat quickly and go to my room. I need to get a few hours of sleep in before my night shift at Stars." Jacob’s facial expression changed. He did not like her working at a club. She was no longer a minor because she turned eighteen at the very beginning of the year but the fact that she was working around drunk people especially men, was not sitting well with him.
"I really do not like you working at Stars. I do not like you working at all, in fact."
"Dad, I know. But you know we need the extra money and Stars is the only place with flexible working hours that is fitting for me, being a high school student." Jacob sighed. She was not wrong, they did need the extra income. "I am sure there are other places that has flexible working hours."
"I will go look for other jobs in my free time, promise. Now let me go sleep." Jacob nodded his head and Andrea rushed to the kitchen to make herself a sandwich and then went to go eat it in her room.
She re-read the letter from Kingston High again and again, to make sure she was not dreaming. She was still in disbelief that she was going to a school owned by one of Cape Town's respected family. They were known as the King family. From what she had heard from people at her school was that they were filthy rich. The father's name was David King and he was the owner of King Corp. His wife, Patricia King was the principal of Kingston High. Her father actually worked at one of their hotels that they own. Andrea was aware they had two sons but she did not know their names.
A wave of anxiety suddenly came over Andrea as she realized that they take only one scholarship per year. So there was a possibility that she might be the only one or there might be two or three others with the rest of the students coming from filthy rich backgrounds. What if they were all snobby and looked down on her. Andrea shook her head to erase her thoughts. She needed to sleep if she wanted to make it in time for her night shift which started at 7pm.
Andrea woke up with exactly a half an hour to get herself ready. She took a quick shower and got dressed in the colour that the waitress’ at Stars were required to wear. She was relieved that she had a boss who allowed her to wear anything, it just had to be in the colours that she expected them to be in. Andrea made sure to always cover up and not show any form of cleavage as she never knew what type of men she would encounter at the club.
Fully dressed, Andrea found her dad half asleep on the couch. Hearing her, he opened his eyes. “You’re leaving already?”
“I am. Do not forget to remind Jason of his school work. Also I did not make anything for dinner, but I am sure there is still left over lasagna from last night, that’s if Jason did not eat it.” Jacob smiled, her responsible and less teenager side was showing. “Don’t worry about us, go to work and be safe.” She smiled, “I’ll see you tomorrow then,” she said and then rushed to the door to leave for work.
Andrea reached Stars in no less than 15 minutes. The music blaring from inside the club was already heard a few blocks away and Andrea sighed, she knew it was going to be filled with people as it was a Friday evening. She entered from the back door and greeted few of her co-workers who was on a break. She grabbed her apron and the tray from, Layla, who was the only person that she got close enough to, to call her a friend. Andrea did not have any friends because she barely had time for herself, much less to make friends. But she would share a talk and sometimes a laugh with Layla who was a few years older than her.
“You came just in time.” Layla breathed out. “My mom just called, she had an accident and I have to leave immediately.” Layla said worriedly. Andrea frowned. “Oh I’m so sorry. Hope it is not anything too serious.”
“Me too. Table four and table nine are mine. They did not yet receive their orders but Jack must be done with it already.”
“You got it, Layla. All the best with your Mom.”
“Thanks babe.” She smiled at rushed out of the door. Andrea opened the door that lead to the club. It was filled with dancing sweaty bodies, with the lights flashing excessively. When Andrea first started working here, the flashing lights were extremely irritating but she had gotten used to it by now.
“Hey Jack. I’m taking over for Layla.” She said when she reached the bar. Jack was a nice, friendly bartender.
“Andrea, hey. It is ready. This is for table four and this is table nine.” Jack eyed the orders again, to make sure it was the correct orders. “Oops, I think I got the wrong order for table nine.” Jack eyed her apologetically. “I am sorry, I will fix this quickly.”
“It is all good Jack, I understand. Tonight is a pretty busy night.” While waiting for Jack, Andrea grabbed the empty trays and glasses on nearby tables and placed them at the bar. Andrea leaned against the bar as she waited for Jack. She looked at the different people that was dancing and completely enjoying themselves. Majority of them were teenagers and they looked like people who did not have a care in the world. A particular group of people caught her eyes. They looked around her age but one look at them and you could tell they were rolling in money. It was three boys and two girls and they were covered in designer clothes from head to toe. I wondered if they had any problems and responsibilities. She thought to herself.
“Here are the orders.” Jack spoke breaking her from her train of thought. She turned around and grabbed both the tray for tables four and nine. Table four had two glasses and table nine had three glasses on them. The club was seriously packed and she had to move between the dancing bodies and juggle the two trays on her hands simultaneously. She raised to two trays a little higher to move more easily between dancing sweaty bodies. Luckily table four was nearby and she quickly placed the tray on the table while muttering a quick apology for the long wait.
She turned around with the tray of table nine, but she did it a tad bit too quickly and without even knowing what was really happening, she no longer had the tray or the three glasses that was on it in her hand. Instead she felt her cheek pressing against something that felt very much like a body and her cheek, wet. All she could smelled was men cologne mixed with alcohol. The shouting and moving of people made her realize what had just happened. While turning around, she had bumped into someone and the tray with glasses that was once in her hand was on the floor, broken with the contents of the glass on the chest her cheek was pressing to.
She was roughly pushed away. “Are you kidding me?” A loud and extremely rude voice barked. Andrea slowly looked up at the tall person standing in front of her. Her eyes first met the shirt this tall person was wearing and it was soaking wet. An apologetic expression mixed with one of nervousness took over her face. His voice did not sound too friendly.
Andrea met a cold gaze of a fairly handsome guy. His eyes were shooting fire and Andrea nervously bit her lip. This was not good. As she looked closely she realized he was one of the rich teenagers she noticed earlier. “I…I’m so, so sorry.” She finally managed to squeak out.
“This was one of my favorite t-shirts and you just permanently spoiled it.” He continued to spit fire at her. “Like I said I am so sorry.”
“Your useless apology is not going to take out the nasty reek that the alcohol is most definitely going to leave on my shirt.”
“I’ll clean it up” Andrea said as she continued to nervously bite her lower lip. This was not a friendly guy and it did not look like he was going to let her off easy for this accident.
She grabbed a few napkins on one of the nearest table she saw and made a motion to rub it off. He grabbed her wrist roughly. “Don’t bother.” He muttered through clenched teeth. By now the music had stopped and people were watching them. His rich friends were sneering at her.
Andrea sighed. “Look I am really sorry. Please, tell me what I can do to fix this? I was in such a rush and I did not look where I was going. I can pay you for your shirt.”
“Oh sweetheart, believe me. Your entire salary would not even be enough to pay for this shirt.” He said, still holding her wrist, slightly hurting her.
“I don’t know what you want me to do. I really did not mean for this to happen.” She muttered again. He glared at her but did not say anything. She tried pulling her wrist free but he was not having any of it. “Can you please let me go, you are kind of hurting me.” Andrea muttered. She knew she was wrong but he really did not have to hurt her.
“This will not be the last time you will be hearing from me.” He let go of her wrist and moved his face closer to her. “Let this be the very last time that this happen or you will be without this job, sweetheart.” With those words, he and his crew walked to the exit of the club. And just like that the music continued and people did not pay attention to her anymore.
Andrea breathed out a sigh of relief that she was not aware she was holding in. “Who is he even, to tell me I would be without a job?” She muttered to herself and bent down to pick up the broken glasses.
“Andrea, someone is coming to pick that up. Gail is looking for you.” Andrea looked at up the voice, addressing her. It was Kelly, another one of her co-workers. “Do you know who that even was Andrea?” Kelly said, her eyes big. Andrea frowned. “No.”
“That was Austin Williams.” Andrea’s face was blank. Kelly frowned. “You don’t know who Austin Williams is?”
“Well, no. Who is he?”
“His family owns this club.” Andrea gasped. “No, no, no” She placed her face in her hands. “I suggest you go and find Gail quickly, before she comes here and fetches you.” Andrea nodded frantically and all but ran to the back of the club. She opened the door and found a glaring Gail.
“Gail…That wa…I can explain.” Andrea stumbled over her words. “Explain what exactly? How you spilled alcohol all over Mr. William’s son?”
“Well…I…I didn’t exactly spill it. The club, it was…still is, really packed and well the accident kind of just happened.”
“Mr. Austin did not think that way.”
“Wh-what did he say?”
“He personally came to me and told me that you have to pay for the damages.” Gail said sharply. She was a fairly nice person but never tolerated if the staff messed up, especially if it involves messing up with the owners. Which never happened before.
“I already offered that.”
“He did not just mean his shirt, Andrea. He meant, his shirt and the three glasses you broke.”
“Uh…I did not exactly break th-”
“It does not matter. He obviously does not care. He demands you pay for it, whether it was an accident or not.” Andrea sighed heavily. “How much are the damages exactly?” Andrea was even afraid to ask.
“He wrote it down on this paper and he took your number.” Andrea took the small piece of paper and slowly opened it. The amount written on there almost made her pass out.
“Wha..how?” Andrea blinked and looked again. “How the heck is it even possible for it to be R3100?” Gail looked at Andrea apologetically. She knew the girl’s family barely made ends meet. “I am so sorry Andrea, you are going to have to ask Mr. Austin that.”
“Next time don’t bump into the owner’s son.” Gail muttered and went back into the club. Andrea felt like crying. They had enough debts as it is, now this also. She sighed heavily and made a promise to herself that her father was never going to find out about this. She was going to find a way to pay it herself.