In Paradise Ch. 05byAshes1990©
I apologize to those who read the fourth chapter of the story and were confused by it. Explanation being I had to change the category and had decided against it. Also I hope the fifth and sixth chapter clears some things up. But I do thank-you for the feedback so I can do better in the future. This story is now going to appear in the fantasy section of the site although it is still a romance genre.
"Hello Paradise Fisheries," said Rinishka as she tried to devote her attention to the new client on the other end of the telephone line. Much to her dismay, she was partly distracted.
It was finally Monday and I had been called into the manager's office to be dealt with about my rude phone call.
I was partly there listening to my deserved scolding but half of me was lost. It was just like Rinishka, half of her was answering the phone while the other half wanted to be in the room. I only knew because of the residual effects of the incident last night.
I had gotten little sleep afterwards and always felt fearful when something as small as the wind rustled the bushes outside. I couldn't understand what I was going through; one part of the night had been spent crying feeling sorry for myself. While another part of the night would be spent lying in bed, eyes dry from being open just staring at the ceiling. Sleep finally came for a few moments when I repeated to myself it hadn't happened. Over and over like a broken record; it hadn't happened, it hadn't happened, it hadn't happened. I had chosen to just forget it. It was harder than I thought especially when you have good friends that witnessed the event. On our way home that night their thoughts of pity and mourn flooded my head and I turned the music louder to drown them out. The whole I'm hearing people's thoughts thing was quite a reminder as well. I had chalked it up to being a symptom that rape victims endure, though the thought of the event contradicted my endeavor to erase it from memory. As crazy as it sounds I felt I could hear people's thoughts. At first I thought it was imaginary. This was until I would look at the person whose thoughts I'd believed they belong to and 9 times out of 10 their facial expressions would match what was thought. Nothing was ever crystal clear though; some thoughts would be displayed to me like pictures associated with a word or two. Others would just be darkness accompanied by some hard to hear banter. It was as if every mind was a puzzle, and because every mind thinks differently I would have to interpret it in a different way.
I could hear those of Rinishka outside the door. It was futile trying to stop them from entering my mind, just as futile as it was to try and tune in to others' thoughts. It was like you either heard them or you did not.
"Yes I would like to place an order please," started the lady on the other end.
"Okay go ahead ma'am," said Rinishka.
"I would like to order 15 crates of whole lobster several kits of your freshest fish and if you have salmon I would greatly appreciate knocking another thing off of my to do list."
"Is this a joke ma'am?"
"Do I sound like I'm the kind of person that jokes?" she asked. "Does my voice sound funny to you?"
"No it's just that people usually get a large quantity of fish straight from the dock. But I'll be happy to oblige," said Rinishka typing the info into her stone-aged computer in front of her. "May I have a date when this is supposed to be ready for?"
"21st of this month."
"Delivery or pick up?" she asked
"Delivery," she said. "When should I make the deposit for?"
"The entire amount or a 50% deposit one week prior to the delivery date ma'am and any balance upon arrival. May I have an email address to send the invoice?"
"You can fax it but address it to Jennifer Harding, I'm just the messenger," she said as she gave a fax number. Details started to become fuzzy but I soon heard things more clearly.
"Alright, have a good day ma'am."
"Please, call me lily, and you too child."
It was exactly what Rinishka wanted, a big order to interrupt a big meeting. She began to fill out the rest of the information on the form and print it. It was the first time that the laser printer had not been fast enough.
"Are you even listening to me!?" he shouted. Mr. Vasquez's face read fury all through the subtle lines of his aged face. Lines I hadn't remembered being there in my childhood. He had the face on, the one Antonio and I dread along with the vehemence that came with it and I was receiving the brunt of it.
"What were you thinking!?" said Mr. Vasquez. "Are you out of your God damned mind child!? Do you want to get fired, is that what you're looking for?" he asked.
I hadn't heard them before, his thoughts that is, but they started to come in like a bad signal from a radio station. I hung my head down to hide the signs of a headache and shame, never mind it was a shame I intentionally brought upon myself but I never thought that its effect would be this potent.
"We didn't need any more secretaries," he said. "I did this as a favor to you." It was a blow to the heart. Mr. Vasquez had done nothing to me; he had always been sweet to me. Oh God what had I done? This man had given me rides to school when I was a child, I practically knew him all my life. But how could I tell him that I technically wasn't allowed to quit.
He moved his hands through his hair in thought, running through the brown and grey strand mix. I desperately needed to remove myself from his son Antonio. How could I explain that I needed him to fire me because his son was a creeper who offered to buy my body and that every time our gazes accidentally met, his was a lustful stare? I knew Antonio all my life or at least for a great majority of it. I knew when he was joking and I knew when he was serious.
"You can work with me part time for a year at one of my father's businesses." He had started off. "God knows I'd like some company" he smiled. "Or..."
"Or?" I prodded.
"You can sell me your body." At the thought I tried to pull away from him but he quickly grabbed a wrist.
"I'm only joking Allyn, it's a joke. Like ha ha."
Only thing it wasn't a joke, I knew him, and what scared me was he was entirely serious.
There was a time in the supply room that I never wanted to remember. I had just finished doing a little office cleaning and had put the broom and dust pan back into the supply closet and behind me, he was there. The room was suddenly darkened when he held me close and dragged his hand gently up my elbow.
"Allyn please stop fearing me," he said but there was no reply. I stood there in utter shock, speechless and as stiff as a stuffed animal as I tried to put my hands between us uncomfortably. That was the start of my not talking to him. It was a month or so after his offer to buy my body and that awkward feeling would always rise within me when I would see his face.
"I don't fear you," I said half heartedly I admit.
"Of course you do!" he exclaimed in a whisper. "We haven't spoken directly in a month."
"Of course we've spoken," I said. "Why just last week I told you about the order for Ms Wilkinson and ..."
My words were cut off when he gripped my arms and shook me; I bit my lips in true fear.
"Those don't count and you know it," he said hurt. I knew it, in fact I knew that was the longest we've never talked since Kindergarten and he stole my red jello cup. I remembered how pissed I was at him for that and how he apologized and explained how his mom won't let him eat jello. Something about red dye he explained. He apologized so much back then, scared to lose a friend. But this was different now, I'm not jello. I wasn't something that can be easily bought and used.
"I'm sorry Antonio" I said. I began to shake him off and walk away but he retaliated. Before I knew it I was backed up against the wall. He breathed deeply as I looked up at him with wide eyes. He then moved on the side and let me pass with a regretful sigh.
I never wanted to remember it but it was necessary. I needed to prevent myself from apologizing, I needed to stand my ground and finish what I started. I needed to be fired.
He struggled to say the words he knew he should, no one would blame him if he had. However, his thoughts, though unclear expressed mixed emotions about the situation.
"Mr. Vasquez?" said Rinishka as she peeped through the door. She waved a white receipt through the crack in the door before she fully entered, almost like a flag. It was probably required due to Mr. Vasquez's hot temper at the moment.
"What is it Ms. Wisdom?" he said irritated.
"I don't mean to interrupt," she stated. Which of course we both knew was a lie but we let her continue. "This is a really big order due at the end of the month that you probably need to prepare for well ahead of time," she said. "Like now."
"Can it wait?" he asked. She shook her head in the negative. "How big is the order?"
She read him the details that I already knew from reading the responses from Rinishka's head that the lady gave on the phone moments ago. Delight and trepidation tangoed on the lines of Mr. Vasquez's face as he read over the invoice to make sure he had heard correctly.
"Well then," he said with a half smile. "You can go Ms. Wisdom." He directed his gaze towards me and after what seemed like forever he addressed the situation.
"Since you can't work properly as a secretary," he said as he rose from behind his desk. He grabbed his work satchel and cell phone, afterwards attempting to shut down his laptop and pack it. "I can either fire you or reposition you," he stated as a matter of fact. As he took his leave he brushed passed, stopping directly beside me. He hadn't looked at me and stared straight at the exit. If I wasn't the only other person in the room I wouldn't have known he was speaking to me.
"Let's see how you work as a guy," he said and like a breeze he was gone.
I came to work the next day knowing what that line meant. I'm not that slow, although afterwards I wished I was so that I could use my secretary attire as an excuse not to fulfill my new duties. Handling fish was now my job. If we bought it from another fisherman I was to help unload it and weigh it in. If we were selling it I was to aid the customer by unloading it and weighing it in and if it were to come from one of our vessels then I was to unload it and weigh it in. You probably get it by now. I smelt like fish for the entire day to the point where on a day off I was scared I'd sweat it if I wasn't careful. I wore an old pair of overalls most days, some were long with holes in them while others stopped mid thigh which I wore when the long ones were dirty. My hair was in two most days, a wad of curls on both sides of my head which made me have to convince people that I was not a child and that this wasn't against child labor laws. However, I hadn't had to do much explaining when they'd see the rest of me.
For a time I hadn't enjoyed being in the company of men however it was not as hard as I thought it would be. The guys weren't rude to me; in fact I liked how they treated me as a person between an equal and a little sister. There would be times were they would feel guilty that a girl would have to do as much work as a guy would for some odd reason. It was to some regard upsetting that I had to remind them what century we lived in. Apparently these were the men who lived during the time their friend chivalry was still alive.
The day came, the big order, a very frustrating one for everyone. This day was the rare occasion we actually had to wear a uniform. We were all messy from the delivery from a previous order and couldn't wait to make one of the last drop offs of the day.
I hopped out of the van first and felt a sudden stream of insecurity wash over me. It was the set of a movie and everyone looked exquisite. It was the cliché beach scene with fit young men and women parading around, some holding scripts appearing as if they were memorizing lines as I stood there staring.
A hand patted my shoulder from behind and I felt cold. I didn't like surprises anymore, they made me more fearful than I ought to be and suspicious of almost everything around me.
"You like wha' you see eh?" laughed Mr. Stubbs. Relief washed over me like a warm shower on a cold day. Michael Stubbs was one of the handy men that helped me out with the really heavy stuff from time to time. I actually tried to pull my weight in my new duties as far as I was physically capable. All the physical labor also helped me to drown out unwanted thoughts. The new position had its perks; well that was a mistaken plural. It had one perk and one perk only, no Antonio. It was easy to avoid him; about a week into the job I realized I could stop trying.
"Let's get started," said Ron. Ronald Douglas was another hand and the three of us off loaded fish for Paradise Fisheries.
As we unloaded crates of lobster and bags of fish onto the set for only God knows what reason I felt it; the sensation that someone was staring you down or borrowing through you with their eyes.
Looking behind me through the crowd I saw a head of dirt blonde half curls turn their green satin eyes from my direction. I squinted and stared for a moment before a bag of fish was hurled my way causing me to hug it on impact. I let out a breath while Mike laughed.
"Pay attention and stop staring at man girl!" Ron bellowed with a laugh. I was embarrassed a bit and could feel the blood rise to my face.
"You can bring it here to the kitchen!" a woman shouted. The driver had just gotten the delivery documents signed and walked off with a check, nodding at me as he passed letting me now it was okay to do as she says. As I neared her, hauling probably the smallest bag of fish, I took notice of her inviting smile. The apron she wore had a stain or two here or there. She was the size a chef should be if they made really good food and her smile stretched from ear to ear. Her hair, the color of graying coal, was braided in two French braids and covered by a chef's hat. Her honey colored eyes seemed to gleam at me as I stood next to her while I kneed the bag of fish higher for a better grip.
"Good morning," I chimed. "Where do you want it?" She surveyed the bag to check which seafood it was first and after some thought she answered.
"You can put that bag in the freezer," she said. "I'm going to go check on what else was brought."
"Okay Ms," I hesitated.
"Please, call me Lily." She smiled.
I walked into the kitchen watching as white aprons and stained aprons hustled and bustled.
"We don't have a lot of time left before the director calls for the scene people! Chop chop!" someone shouted. "Remember not to cook all of it; some of the seafood is for the cast party as well!"
"Um the freezer?" I asked around but people were busy attending to their work. They maneuvered around me as if my presence was there but didn't matter.
"Excuse me where's the freezer?" I had asked again to be brushed off by another. I sighed as I kneed the bag of fish again to better my grip.
"The freezer is right over there kid," said a woman who had been chopping vegetables. She had pointed at its direction with her knife. Her skin was the color of the most brilliant ivory and her eyes a lime green mystery. She smiled, afterwards turning around to finish her work, her neck revealing several strands of fiery red hair.
I smiled back even though she hadn't seen it and walked towards the white metal door that had frost on its tiny window. It was a bit of trouble opening it the first time but it opened and I entered resting the bag where space allowed. As I bent down I heard a slam and quickly got up to find the door had been shut. It wouldn't budge. Every aggravated push and pull of the handle had been useless and I felt extremely tired and obviously cold. I banged at the door and removed the frost from the tiny window to see no one the wiser. They were all as preoccupied with their work as they had been when I first walked in. It had been about 5 minutes and I had felt weak. People whizzed by like I hadn't been trying to get their attention from the window. I had started to become a little bit disoriented and I couldn't stand properly. The floor and walls were cold against my bare skin so it hurt to lean against anything as well. There was more stuff to put in the freezer, why were Ron and Mike taking so long?
I did a slight jog as I folded my arms and tucked them under my armpits, rubbing together my legs thankful that I wore long overalls today. However, my shirt was a spaghetti strap today. My arms were bare and I could feel the heat had long gone from the surface of my skin. I rubbed in a futile attempt to get warmer as well as screamed hoping that someone would hear me over the clang of the pots and pans. It had probably only been 10 minutes, which felt like an eternity, when my feet had threatened to give out from beneath me. I stood in the tiny window willing myself not to cry for fear that the resulting icicles would make me colder.
My legs couldn't take it much longer and I fell forward, waiting to hit my head against the metal door. It was soft, and brought me low to the ground in its arms. The metal door's hands were warm as it cupped my cheek and stared, willing me to wake up. Its green eyes turned a hard dark color as it looked around the room and shouted franticly. This wasn't a metal door but a man. A man that under the haze of my blurry vision looked quite familiar. His dirt blonde half curls shrouded his face as he tried calling out to me. A woman had kneeled next to him flashing a light in my eyes and checking my finger tips. I don't think I would have known if I hadn't seen my hand in hers as she inspected it.
"Thank you," I whispered as I tried to remember how to move my hands. I heard the voices of Mike and Ron bustling through the kitchen. My hand reached for his face and right before grazing his cheek it fell to the floor. Like the wind would a candle, I was out like a light, colors dancing beneath my eyelids to a jig of sorts.