People flicker in and out of my life. As do opportunities and luck. That’s the only fact that’s constant.
I’ve never placed the title of best friend on the same person for more than two years. My current target is Jade, the sweetest and feistiest young woman you’d ever meet. As loyal and perfect she is, I know there will come a day where I mess us up.
The gallery I interned at during university vowed they’d never let me go. I worked extra hours and tried my hardest to make them adore me. The moment the semester ended, they said their farewells. This has resulted in me being unable to find - let alone keep - a real art job. It’s been five months since graduation.
Everything breaks away eventually, no matter how good and steady it feels.
I know, it sounds morbid and dark, but I’ve come to realize that most times that’s how life works. It refuses to let things be simple.
So, when the receptionist at the heritage museum told me that - Yes, the position we were looking to hire for has been filled. And that - No, we will not be hiring again anytime soon. After I had a next to perfect interview the week before, I was not surprised. Disappointed, yes, but not surprised.
I clicked off my phone and for a long moment, I just stood there, staring at my hazy reflection in the stainless steel elevator wall. My reflection stared back, this girl with brown eyes that bordered on black. I stared at my windblown chocolate brown hair. The thin streaks of blue and purple go unnoticed in the reflection.
I let out a slight hiss of air and the elevator shutters to a stop. In a moment, I feel suspended and as the seconds tick by I wonder if the doors will ever open. It would be just my luck that it would get stuck.
Not a moment later the doors slide open, revealing a short figure I can’t quite distinguish in the reflection. As the person shuffled in at an annoyingly slow pace, I stayed still, watching their distorted shape.
The doors slid shut but the elevator remained still.
“What floor do you need, Miss?” they asked, their voice wavering.
It took more effort than it should have to turn around. I forced a smile despite the angry voice in my head that wanted to tell the man to leave me alone.
He was old, much older than my own grandparents I expected. I looked down on his balding head, his remaining white hair short and curly. He leaned heavily on his wooden cane, his other hand hovering over the elevator buttons.
“What floor do you need, Miss?” he asked, his voice wavering.
I forced a smile, “The main level.”
The man clicked his tongue, “What a coincidence,” he said, giving me a sweet smile, “I do as well,” with the lack of speed you would expect with an elder, he twirled his finger over the selection of buttons and pressed down on number 1. A moment later the elevator began its descent down. “Hows your day been?”
I turned my head slightly and offered him what could pass as a fraction of a smile. “Not very well,” I admitted.
He cleared his throat, “And whys that?”
For a moment, I hesitated. There’s no reason to tell him my problems. At the same time, another part of me wanted to unleash my frustrations. And really, the chances of me running into him again were low.
“I just got off of the phone with a potential job offer,” I explained, trying my hardest to not make it sound like I’m complaining.
“What sort of job?”
“An exhibit organizer at the heritage museum. I have an art degree so I was overqualified for the job if you ask me.”
I winced at my comment. Something that expressed such confidence around my own grandparents would have resulted in a tender slap in the head and a sharp word or two. Instead, this man’s eyes lit up in excitement. It almost looked like he stood up taller and leaned on his cane a little less.
“Art, you say? I’ve been an artist my entire life! What’s your specialty?”
“Watercolor and traditional pen and pencil,” I said, relief flooding into my body. This was a topic I could talk about all day. Unfortunately, the elevator shuddered to a stop and the doors opened, revealing that we’d arrived at the bottom level of the apartment complex.
I allowed the man to leave first, though my impatience grew with every second it took him to step over the tiny crack in the doorway. Did all old men sign a contract agreeing that they’d be as slow and careful as possible once hitting a certain age?
Once I’d made it into the lobby, I started off in the direction of my apartment. Before I made it two feet, I felt obligated to stop while the man began talking again.
“If you want a job, I’ve been looking for someone to keep up on general chores in my apartment. It will only be a few hours a week but it’s better than nothing if you’re interested.”
My initial reaction was to say no. I went to school for four years and I refused for my first job after graduating to be cleaning some old mans apartment. But once my initial annoyance passed, my mind flickered to the bill sitting on my kitchen table. The same bill I was going to have to call my parents about asking them to pay it. And though a few hours a week won’t pay the bill, it will be enough to get them off my case about wasting my time without a job.
“Can I come by sometime and we can figure out the details?” I asked. The old man beamed at me, revealing perfectly straight white teeth. I instantly decided that they had to be dentures.
“Apartment 119. I’ll be expecting you at 8 a.m tomorrow.”
Without another word, the man shuffled around, doing what was his best attempt at disclosing the conversation with an entrance. Stifling a small smile, I turned in the opposite direction toward my own apartment.
Maybe today wasn’t as hopeless as I thought.