"Dad!" I screamed, my tiny 8-year-old voice boomed through the car as I struggled to keep my balance against the seatbelt, with the car tumbling over and over again down the cliff.
One second I was looking at the roof the next second, I was looking at the floor. I could hear the indistinctive screaming and cries all around me. I looked to my side as my sister's bloody body was helplessly thrown up and down the car like a rag doll.
I could feel the taste of warm fluid in my mouth.
Time seemed to stop, and it felt like we were floating in the air until—the car made hard contact with the ground, sending a wave of excruciating pain rocketing through my body and causing the windows to shatter into a million pieces on us. In that second, the world faded into pitch black.
Beep, beep, beep
As I opened my eyes, my bed was as soaked as a leaking water bed. I could easily make out that the liquid was from the sweat running down my body. My eyes burned with tears, and I could taste salt on my tongue from them. I sat up and folded my knee towards my chin with my arms wrapped around my legs, sobbing.
These nightmares had become more frequent since I stopped my visits to my therapist Dr. Grey. Maybe I had to see her later in the week. I was so deep in the aftermath of my nightmare that I did not recognize the constant beeping of my alarm or what that beeping meant for me.
I lost track of time as I sat in the dark, sobbing on my bed, with the only ray of light coming from a small opening in my curtains. I stayed like that until I heard a soft yet urgent tap on my room door.
"Lisa, you do remember what day it is, right?" Ronnie, my best friend, and roommate called from the hallway.
The sound of his voice brought me back to the present, and I realized what I had to do today.
Oh shit! I had an interview by 10 am. "Shit shit shit," I muttered to myself, turning to my side to pick up my alarm clock that had been beeping for 13 minutes.
"Lisa?" Ronnie called out again to make sure I had woken up and I got to my feet to open the curtains.
"I'll be right there Ron," I called, turning off my alarm clock. I had to be at Carlson corp before 10 am for my interview. It was 8:28 am, and I had not even taken a bath. With the traffic in Manhattan, I was sure to be late if I did not leave soon.
My table was in a mess with designs and papers scattered all over. There was no time to fix that before I left, so I just left it that way.
I entered the bathroom and picked my toothbrush up. I stared at the mirror as I was brushing my teeth and saw a tiny pimple growing on the side of my face, almost unnoticeable but still there. "Would you look at that?" I said as I put my hand over it and rubbed gently. "I'll fix you when I get back, you little monster."
Jumping into the shower, I took a cold bath, letting the water wash away all the sweat and tears. If only it were that easy to wash away all the pain I had felt in the last 15 years. But no, I couldn't think of that right at the moment. I had to get this job for a couple of different reasons. The first being that I was broke.
A few minutes later, I came out of the shower, not bothering to take a towel. I turned on my hairdryer to dry my hair, then put my hair in a ponytail. A quick run through my closet yielded one of my favorite black dresses. It was a simple straight dress, stopping just below my knee with long sleeves. Perfect for an interview, and the long sleeve was great for the cold morning and warm noon that we were experiencing in Manhattan this week.
I took a glance at the time as I put my wristwatch on and realized I had a little more than an hour before my interview. So I put on some nude lipstick and a little mascara. I checked myself out in the mirror with a satisfied smile on my face. Picking up a pair of black low heels, I headed out the door.
As I stepped into the hallway, the familiar and sweet aroma of bacon and eggs greeted me.
Ronnie was in the kitchen, dancing to the music playing on his phone, and he did a dramatic turn as he wiggled his brows. I couldn't help the laughter that followed.
Ronnie and I had been friends since forever—okay, not forever, but since 8th grade. Being the two misfits in our class, we kind of stuck together. Ronnie and I would always stand up for each other when the big bullies would come around. We finished high school together, left home for college together, and graduated together. We decided it would be best to remain roommates at the time since we had lived most of our lives together.
"Good morning sleepyhead, coffee's on the table." He picked up his phone and turned down the music. Then he slid a plate of bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich across the counter to me. "Here, eat."
"Good morning Ron," I reached for the bacon with a cup of coffee in my hand.
Ron gave me the 'what the hell' look as I finished the sandwich in a few bites and finished my now warm coffee in two gulps.
"Slow down girl," he said, trying to suppress his laughter as he made his breakfast.
"Don't look at me like that. I'm super hungry and super late."
"Yeah yeah. I know. Now I feel bad for keeping you up late last night." His brows furrowed as he put the last piece of bacon in the pan.
"It's okay. Just wish me luck on my interview today" I picked up my bag and started putting my stuff inside.
"You don't need luck with that brain Hunny, I know you'll nail it," He crossed over to the barstool on the other side of the counter and sat.
"Yeah right." I finished packing my stuff and went over to join him at the counter. "What are you doing today?" I asked as I stood in front of him giving him my best 'how do I look' pose.
"You look superb, I'm sure our CEO, what's his name again?" He made a funny face trying to remember his name. "Aha, Our CEO Drey, I'm sure he will not be able to take his eyes off you."
"Ronnie!" I frowned and gave him a playful smack on the shoulder.
"Ow, what was that for?" he asked with a mischievous grin.
I shook my head knowing I had to give up. There was no point arguing with Ron. I'd always lose. "Anyways, I am going out with Daniel today. We have a few shoots today."
"Okay, that's good. I hope it goes well." I reached out and gave him a small hug. "Gotta run, I'll see you when I get back."
He hugged me back, "Hmm you smell great, can I eat you up?"
"Shut up," I laughed as I turned around and reached for the door.
"Love you, good luck with your interview." He said laughing too.
"Love you too, have a great day," I called back and left.
Just as I expected, the cold July morning air hit my skin the second I stepped out. The street was busy as usual, with everyone going about their daily business. They all looked so normal, which made me wonder if they had their own demons too. Did they have nightmares every once in a while, did they sometimes feel guilty over shit they did years ago? Or was their life just as perfect as it seemed on the outside?
I guess we'll never know, I said, thinking out loud.
I walked to the bus stop and boarded a bus to Manhattan. On the bus, my mind wandered to the research I did on my 'would-be boss.' Drey Carlson, the CEO of Carlson corporation. Carlson corp owned a long chain of businesses all over and outside the country. The company was controlled by billionaire Drey Carlson. I did not get to find much on him but there was a ton of information on Drew, even a recent picture from last month.
I was on my way to an interview to be Drey's personal assistant. Despite all my research the night before, I could only find one old picture of him from years ago when he first graduated from Havard. He seemed to like staying out of the public eye.
My dream had always been to own my create my own vintage chic clothing line. So a job as a PA seemed like a deviation from what I wanted to do. But when you're broke with a sick dad whose medical bills are your responsibility, and you have so many bills to take care of with no money, you have to decide to temporarily put your dreams on hold to provide what is needed.
Graduating from NYU with a degree in business administration, a job like this seemed like a waste of my degree, but I had reached a point where I had to take whatever I got. I had not received a call back from any of the interviews I had done before, so I could only hope this one would go well.
What was that saying again? 'When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.' In this same way, when life leaves you broke and helpless with no job and just a hand full of talents that would basically get you nowhere, well you know the rest.
When I reached the bus stop, I opened the google map on my phone, and it showed that the building was just a few blocks down. The time on my phone was 9:45 am. 'Phew,' I muttered, glad that I would not be as late as I thought I would. In fact, if I could find the building soon enough, I would not be late at all.
My phone chimed, and I looked to see a text from Ron.
Yo Bess! There yet?
Sometimes Ron can be such a mom I thought to myself as I smiled. I had barely been out for 2 hours and he was already checking in on me.
When I looked up, I found the building two blocks on the other side of the road. The road was free with no oncoming cars as I checked both sides. I decided to give Ron a quick two-word reply as I crossed the road.
I was ready to shoot him a 'Yes mom' when I heard the screeching sound of tires and the insistent honk of a car making its way to me. All too familiar.
I turned to look up and saw the black car coming at me with speed. I should have moved, but my legs failed me, my voice too, as memories of the accident that changed my life came flooding back to me.
I felt my legs buckle underneath me and my body made contact with the hard concrete floor, reminding me of the same intense pain I felt that night. And just when I thought I was about to be hit by the weight of the car, it stopped missing only a few inches to crush me.