Adaliah woke up that day, feeling tired as always, and thinking of going to work with a certain dread. She took a shower, which was of cold water as she couldn’t afford the heat for that month. She sniffed her clothes before putting them on.
“This still works for another day.” She thought and put on her snow boots and hoodie on and headed out. It was summer, but she always felt cold.
It was another boring day, with the same boring places and same boring people. She was just another one of them. Quiet town, simple lifestyles. She wasn’t complaining though, everything was better than the place she used to call home.
Adaliah Williams was raised to believe that happiness could only be achieved if you follow the laws of God and all those who don’t are dirty heathens that must burn in the fiery fires of hell. From reading fantasy books, wearing makeup or having vaccines, everything was a crime against the lord her parents worship. She couldn’t stand that toxic environment, so she ran away.
While taking a turn at an intersection, she saw him again. A well-dressed man in a dark suit, walking cane that seemed to be just for show and a black top hat. It was a strange outfit to be wearing there. He was always there. At the time she walked to work and at the time she headed back home. Almost like a statue.
She saw him with the corner of the eye trying to keep a low profile. He did seem to notice her though, as he had taken off his hat in a form of greeting. She gave him a nervous wave and moved on. A strike of wind hit her face and she couldn’t stop the need to sneeze. Another cold, just what she needed.
Work was hectic as always. Fold the t-shirts on the kid’s aisle, organize the women fitting rooms, clean the mess left by the annoying teen girls who just came to mess things up and leave without buying anything and deal with the rude self-entitled customers who thought they needed to be treated like kings or else they wouldn’t buy stuff from them again. As if that was a punishment. It just made her sicker talking to them.
Apparently, some woman didn’t like the fact of her sneezing so much that they called the manager. He was a nice guy who seemed to love his work, unlike her. He gave her a pitiful look.
“You don’t look well. Have you seen a doctor?” he asked
“No need. It’s just a cold.” She didn’t have the money for a doctor anyways.
“How about you head home for today? Get some rest”
“Oh! I’m sorry for being dedicated to my job!” she thought to herself. “Ok. Thanks.”
She sighed and headed back. Work, sleep, and more work to try to pay the bills. That was her life. She felt like a puppet being used to tell the most boring story in existence. She didn’t remember the last time she had fun.
The sidewalk she always used was blocked by some construction workers so she was forced to use the one on the other side. The one where that man was. She walked until she ended up meeting him while waiting for the green light to light up and cross the street. She saw him more closely. He was very pale even more than her, and that was weird. His mustache was grey and curved.
“Good morning m´lady!” he said cheerfully. “A nice day we have today, eh?”
“Yeah…a bit cold though”
“Oh, is it? Didn’t notice.” The sun was out and he was wearing a black suit. Of course, he wasn’t cold.
“Say, you are always around here. Heading somewhere?” she took the chance to ask, although it sounded like a rude question.
“Oh yes” I’m going right there.” He pointed at an empty lot not far from there. Why was he going there? He was probably nuts.
“Ah, I see” the light turned green and she bolted out of there.
She arrived home, took her shoes off and put on some slippers. She jumped into bed and fell asleep immediately.
The sun was out when she woke up once again. It was about time to head to work and she panicked. She didn’t shower or changed her clothes, just ran out. She felt groggy but that wouldn’t stop her from earning her money.
The construction workers were still on the sidewalk so she went once again towards the one with that man who, surprise surprise, was still there.
He greeted her by taking his hat off.
She sneezed while mumbling a hello.
“You seemed awfully stressed, how about you take a walk with me?”
In normal circumstances, she would have said no, but this time, something made her choose differently.
“Sure.” She saw the empty lot again. But it wasn’t empty anymore. It was a beautiful garden with fountains and precious flowers. The man offered his arm and she held it.
They both headed there, and for the first time ever, she wasn’t cold anymore.
Adaliah didn’t notice, that she was leaving behind a lifeless body. Just lying there, like a puppet who lost her strings, or rather, was freed from them.
Merci pour la lecture!