The sun warms my face and makes my hair look like a bright flame , the other kids tease me for it , but I like it , and my mommy says it's different , “Different is not the same as bad, sometimes being different is better than being like everyone else,” she says whenever I come home crying because some of the kids in the park made fun of me , or pulled my hair too hard when Poppy wasn't looking.
Poppy spends a lot of time with me , more than mom , but Poppy isn't like mom , she is not my sister either , she doesn't even look like me , her colors are different , and she says it's because she is seasoned and I came into the world still raw; I don't understand her when she talks to me like that , but it must be funny because she laughs a lot when she says it.
My mother always asks me at night , when she is tucking me in and telling a story , if Poppy was a good girl , if she treated me well , if she gave me good food or if she played with me , I always answer her yes , because the last time I told her that I had fallen and Poppy didn't notice it because she was talking on the phone , she yelled at Poppy and made her cry , I don't like to see her cry , I prefer when she laughs so hard that the other moms in the park look at her with envy because they can’t laugh like her.
Today , Poppy is talking to a very tall boy who dresses funny , she smiles and touches her hair , from time to time she looks to where I am or tells me to be careful , but for a long time she has not looked over here , and I don't think she has realized that I am lying on top of the castle , enjoying the fact that today there are not so many children in the park , that makes me happy because that way , I can use the games for as long as I want.
I hear a doggy barking and immediately I raise my head to find where the noise is coming from , and I see a tall man , standing next to a big tree that is just outside the park , he is with a big dog , and when he sees that I am looking at them , he smiles at me and the doggy flaps its tail; so , I get off the castle and go to where the dog is.
When I am close enough , the doggy approaches me and I stay very still , because it scares me a little , I have never had a dog , or a cat , or any other pets because Mommy says they are a lot of work , but the dog is cute , it is black and brown , and has big eyes and its ears are up , I want to pet it , but I am afraid that it will bite me with its big fangs.
" She won't do anything to you , darling , she is very friendly , come over to her and pet her, " the man tells me.
" She? " I ask.
" Yes , her name is Lola, " he tells me.
Lola approaches me and I run my fingers over her face , her head , and her body , while she flaps her tail very happily , then she licks my face and I laugh because it tickles me.
" She is so cute, " I say , stroking Lola's ears.
" Yes , and she also has some very cute puppies, " he replies.
" Puppies? Really? " I ask excitedly , I have always wanted a puppy.
" Yes , they are here in my car , do you want to see them? " he asks me , and I nod , but before I go with him , I look towards where Poppy is , but she keeps laughing with the tall boy , maybe if I go quickly to see the puppies and come back, she won't notice.
" Come , my car is very close , maybe if you like one , I can give it to you, " the man tells me as he walks beside me.
" Are you going to give me one? " I ask him , and he nods with a smile.
When we get to a big red car , the man opens the back door and I get in to look for the puppies , but I don't see anything , I look for them under the seats and then I look at the trunk , but there is nothing , I am going to turn to ask the man where they are , but I only see a big hand that has a handkerchief , and then the hand rests on my nose with force , I try to move , I move a lot because I can't breathe well , and I start to see little white dots , until I feel like I can't breathe at all.
I don't like this , I don't want any puppies anymore , I want my mommy , I try to stand up and run , but my legs don't move , and someone is holding me very tight , until everything turns very black , and I can't see the trees or the blue sky anymore.
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I wake up startled , my forehead is beaded with sweat and I feel like I can't breathe , my hands shake so hard when I try to stretch them to turn on the lamp next to my bed , when I finally manage to do it , I stand up carefully , because my legs feel like jelly , I go to the bathroom and drink some water , I also wipe the sweat with a small towel , then I go back to my bed and try to calm myself so I can go back to sleep , but it is difficult.
Whenever I have that stupid dream the same thing happens to me , it feels so real that I wake up like I am really going out of breath , it's a horrible feeling , but fortunately , that dream has already stopped coming to me to torment me every night , and over the years , it has become more and more distant , sometimes the dream changes , but ultimately , it ends the same way , with my body feeling as if it were real.
I usually dream about it when I am very anxious , nervous , or stressed , and right now , it is all three at the same time , because tomorrow I have a very important job interview , and the pressure means that I cannot even have a good night's sleep.
I look at the chair next to my small desk and see the blue dress that my brother got me in a second-hand store , it wouldn't have been my first choice , but I didn't have time to go find something myself because I was too busy taking my end-of-term exams , so I had to settle for what he bought for me; Next to the dress , on the desk , is a folder with all the relevant information that I will need for the interview.
I have applied for this job several times during the last year , because for some reason , from time to time the same vacancy opens again , so it was usual for me to be checking the website of the most important law firm in the state , to find out when the vacancy was going to be open again and to apply , but I had never been called for an interview until now , so I have been a nervous wreck.
Three days ago , a woman who sounded older , called me on the phone to inform me about the interview , and give me indications of the date , time , and place , but it was not until she told me that the interview was going to be carried out by Mr. Pemberton himself , that my brother got involved in all the preparation and has been bothering me with this every second of the day; He helped me to find the necessary information , the clothes , he also downloaded many videos from the internet where they gave advice for job interviews.
You could say that he is more nervous than I am , and I do not blame him , because with what he earns in his work , he barely has enough to pay for our food , basic needs , and my university , which , fortunately , is not very expensive , because I was able to get a scholarship that covers most of the tuition costs , so , if I could get a job as well paid as this one , it would help us a lot.
I hear footsteps in the hall , and I try to get to bed quickly , but I can't do it in time , as my brother opens the door and frowns at me when he notices I am awake.
" You should be sleeping Ali , tomorrow is the big day , and you must be well - rested, " he tells me reproachfully.
" You say it like I am going to get married or something, " I reply laughing , but he seems very serious.
" This is very important , and you can't ruin it , now go back to sleep, " he tells me before turning off the light and closing the door.
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" Well , here it is , remember everything we talked about , you have to be calm and answer confidently, " my brother George tells me.
" I know , you have told me a thousand times already, don't worry , I will get it, " I tell him smiling , and he gives me a tense smile before I get out of the car.
As soon as I get to the floor where the interview will take place , I feel even more nervous than before , but I try to take a deep breath before heading to a small reception where an Asian woman , in her forties or so , is sitting , and I inform her that I am here for the interview with Mr. Dominic Pemberton.
She smiles at me and after giving me a few more indications , she guides me to a small waiting room where more people are gathered; There are about six people , and after I sit down , three more arrive , we are ten in total , two men and eight women , of which absolutely all are really well - groomed , with very high heels , short skirts and heavy makeup , they are very pretty , but none seem to have seen the videos that I saw where they recommended to come dressed professionally , since all of them seem to have dressed for a party and not for a job interview.
I feel slightly intimidated when I realize that maybe the one who is badly dressed is me , and I look down unconsciously to examine my outfit , I look like a lady in her forties and not a young woman of twenty-two , my makeup is quite soft , and my Red hair , which has always been my great pride , is loose on my back , while they seem to have gone to a beauty salon to get gorgeous hairstyles.
My nerves are increasing as time passes and the people who are in the room are entering one by one , two girls have left furious , another left crying , and the rest have left with pale faces , as if they were still in shock , even one of the boys who entered , came out with a blushed face as if he was ashamed of something; and the first thing I notice , is how everyone has entered with a confident attitude and has almost run out of the office afterwards.
When only the other boy and I are left , we both look at each other with discomfort , but we don't say anything , and when we see the last girl leave with tears in her eyes , we both look at each other with a little fear , but we can't say anything , because he is called next and I am left alone in the waiting room , fidgeting in my seat , while I wait for my turn , and although I should be even more fearful , now I feel more secure , since it is evident that the rest of the people did not do well , and since I am the last one , I will have the opportunity to leave a good impression compared to the rest , and thus maybe my chances of being hired will be much greater.
But my confidence is shattered when I see the boy walk out of the office with a cocky smile on his face , and an arrogant demeanor , so there can only be two options: that he really did it right , or that he is pretending to make me nervous and that I do worse than him , in order to increase his chances of being hired; so I don't let his attitude get to me , and as soon as I hear my name being called , I get up from my chair confidently , and walk into the office trying to control my nerves.
I close the door behind me , and when I turn to see who will interview me , I find myself face to face with the most handsome man I have ever seen in my life , and my confidence drops to the ground.