This is part one of an installment project, I hope you'll take time to read it
| Another rainy morning here in Hawthorne, really gives me that feeling most people get when they see the first drops of rain trickle down their windows, that feeling of sadness and boredom. It’s also been two weeks since my dad suddenly went missing, but as the old saying goes, life must go on. My mother’s been pretty disturbed and decided to overwork herself ever since my dad’s disappearance.
It’s 5:35 am and the sun’s starting to show itself to Hawthorne, unveiling a rainbow upon the city. Hidden behind a dense forest is where I, my mother and dad live. My dad is an element sorter in the local chemistry research facility here in Hawthorne and my mom is an accountant for the local bank. I’m just a plain student enjoying the first few weeks of the summer vacation with the hopes of one day making it to the big city and be a household name.
“Bradford! Breakfast is ready! You wouldn’t want to be late for your first day of work,” my mother shouted. The scent of freshly fried bacon and eggs piqued my senses as I tried to avert temptation by opening a new pack of cigarettes. I’ve been smoking for quite sometime now and my mother still has no idea of my new habit.
As I made my way to the kitchen, the house was unusually quiet for some reason. Every single day of my life, my mother would play music from the radio her friend gave to her. Today was actually quite different; she also had her hair in a bun, as opposed to her usual messy look. “Hey mom, why’s your hair in a bun? And why aren’t you playing your morning tunes?” I asked her as she exited the wash room. “Oh, you know me, I’m just trying some new morning routines and acting more professional around the house,” she answered me as she prepared my breakfast. “But mother, you’re at home, why are you acting professional?” I asked her, obviously confused, yet somewhat amused. “Well, Bradford, I didn’t tell you this earlier, but I got a job in the local paper and I’m their new feature writer,” she braggingly answered. “That is so great, mom! When’s your first day?” I eagerly asked, knowing that she finally quit the bank that she works for. “Today and I’m driving you to work so we could have that mother-son conversations,” she answered as she prepared her bag. “We always have those conversations, oh yeah, and don’t you think that it’s great that I’m working for a magazine?” I bragged to my mother. “I’m so proud of you, you got your mother’s sharp vocabulary and writing skills.” She agreed as I finished breakfast and headed to the wash room.
When I entered the wash room, I instantly chose my lucky underwear and prepared my towel, I’m usually the obsessive compulsive person when I bathe. As I was showering, I heard a voice, which I just ignored. I usually hear things since my fifteenth birthday.
“You’ll see familiar faces and pass death defying challenges that you yourself can overcome” said the voice I heard. It’s probably just my imagination, probably just excited for my first day of work. Death defying, wow, I guess the tobacco’s finally getting to my head.
Not knowing what to where on my first day of work for a magazine company, I decided to put on my rarely used three-fourths polo and my gray jeans. It made me look like a professional yet wholesome. I also decided to put on my black and white striped vinyl watch to give my co-workers the impression that I’m dead serious for this job, and also a tad bit stylish.
As we boarded the car, I could’ve sworn I saw a purple mist by my window, I just shrugged it off, thinking that it was the sunrise passing through the trees creating an illusion. As we neared Hawthorne’s metropolitan area, there’s this excitement I felt, the feeling that most country people see when they entered a big city.
Now, I was raised in an urban family but we grew up in a remote area a few miles from Hawthorne’s main city. Hawthorne is a fairly urbanized city with a few malls, offices, banks and fast food chains. Hawthorne also boasts a museum displaying the many artifacts excavated by prominent archaeologists. The city also has this Victorian feel to it, with its buildings modeled after ancient structures and some establishments were actually made during the Victorian era, only remodeling it to make it more modern.
“There’s the company mother, thanks for driving me,” I told my mother as I kissed her cheek. “Have a good day, sweetie, enjoy your first day of work!” she said as I left the car. “You too, mother,” I said as I waved her goodbye.
I work for “The Weekly Teen” magazine, which features clothes, gadgets and music teens usually are drawn into. I work as a studio photographer, stylist and rarely, a model. Funny why they chose me as an occasional model, with my lanky build, slightly gaunt face and seemingly changing posture, but hey, I get three jobs in one company, what else could go wrong?
As I entered the building, the guards greeted me with a polite “Good morning, sir,” and me returning the polite gesture with a curt nod accompanied by my signature smirk. When I walked into my office, I noticed that I wasn’t the only teen working for them, I noticed that there were interns, interviewees and many others, well, being the introvert me, I just scurried away from the crowd and made my way to my cubicle. I found a note posted on my table reading “Welcome Bradford, I hope you do good, signed your co-worker” how nice of them.
I immediately organized my table, putting a few pens over here and setting up a tiny paperweight over there, just the typical teen workspace. Suddenly, the phone on my table rang. “Bradford of Weekly Teen, good morning,” I answered politely. “Hey, Bradford, report to Studio 2 in five minutes and meet our feature photographer, he will be shooting with you and a guest model.” A guy informed me.
Excited for my first impression, I went directly to Studio 2 on the third floor of the office. There, I was greeted by a man in his mid-forties and my supervisor. I didn’t know what to do, the only thing on my mind was to greet them, and so I did. “Good morning sirs,” I said as I shook hands with them. “Good morning, Bradford, I’m Spencer and I’ll be your supervisor during your stay here in The Weekly Teen,” my supervisor introduced himself. “And I’m Clarke, I’ll be the photographer for this shoot.” The photographer introduced himself. “All right, your model will be here any minute now, but for the mean time, why don’t you two get to know each other, I’ll be in my office if you need me, so, see you later.” Spencer excused himself.
While waiting for our model, Clarke and I decided to have a little chat about photography and other things. “So, I must say, I’m quite impressed by you being an assistant photographer, a stylist and a model for this magazine,” he complimented me. “Thank you, sir, I’ve heard of you from a lot of people telling me about your photography skills,” I returned the favor. “I’ve seen your portfolio and I’m really interested in your technique, it’s as if you have experience before,” he told me. “Well, experience? Not really, I just wander off to the forest and take pictures of the things I see and shoot them at all different angles,” I modestly answered. “Really? I mean, you know the right angles and how to capture proper lighting, I suppose you’ve done your homework about photography and the likes,” he cleared. “Well, I’ve been reading books about photography and stuff and I’ve seen lots of pictures from magazines,” I answered. “That pays off, young man, it really does.” He told me.
Mr. Clarke seemed to be bored waiting for our model so he decided to practice shooting with me as the model. “Sir, are you serious, I mean, I look like a mess,” I told him reluctantly as he pulled me to the set. “No, you’re good to go, we’ll just have a couple of photos taken and see how it goes,” he told me. “Well, I guess we can try,” I whispered. “That’s the spirit, go, strike a pose,”
At first, I was shy, but after a few snaps, I started enjoying the shoot, and finally, the model came. “Sorry I’m late, the line at the coffee shop took ages,” he said as he shook hands with me and Mr. Clarke. “Great, let’s start the shoot!” Mr. Clarke said.
Being the assistant photographer, I was mostly in-charge of the lighting, the cleanliness of the lens and the model’s position, meaning if he was standing in the right place or if the light hits him really good.
The shoot was fairly quick; Mr. Clarke declared a wrap after ten maybe twenty shots. We all shook hands with each other as I made my way to my office. Walking through the hallways, I was haunted again by the voice I heard earlier. “You shall remember faces, though you will not remember the bonds you shared, you will also bring with you a memory of your name and retain most of your abilities, yet you still have to be provoked to bring your talents to their full potential,” the voice haunted me. I remember hearing the voice, but not really determining whether or not it was a man or a woman’s voice.
As I made it to my little cubicle, I found a note under my paperweight. “11:20 today, you will style a few models, signed, Spencer.” Another task, my, this job is so interesting. I had a few hours before my next task so I decided to go have some coffee at the coffee shop adjacent to my office’s building.
The line was so long, but moved rather fast, when it was my turn, I ordered my usual, New England Roast with a dash of cinnamon. I sat outside the store as I lit a stick while I was enjoying my coffee. The sun started to greet the whole city, as I watched cars drive through, people walking by and birds perching on the creepy tree near the table I was sitting at. It’s very unusual for blue jays to perch on that tree, but one jay stood out to me, an albino one. Being an assistant photographer on the run, I always have my camera with me no matter where I go. I instantly took a picture of the enchanting bird moments before it flew away. A feather fluttered down, caressing my cheek, and to my surprise, it was the albino bird’s feather.
I took another hit from my stick and took another sip of from my coffee as I noticed a man, not too far from me seemingly smirking at me for some reason. I gave him a curt nod with the hopes of him going away, but to my dread, he came closer. I didn’t know what to do, so I decided to take a long hit from my cigarette and blew a thick cloud of smoke to his direction. To be honest, he was dashing, but I wasn’t interested. I quickly finished my coffee, giving me a boost. I decided to run back to the office as it started to drizzle.
Finally, it was time for my next job, being a stylist. I went to the venue of the next shoot and started to look for clothes suited to the models and the theme of the photo shoot. “Hey, we’re one model short!” the director noticed as he started wafting around the room, telling the models to get on set. Suddenly, a striking man entered the room, apologizing for his tardiness. To my surprise, he was the guy I was rude to earlier, he was literally wet.
“Um, sir, is he a model for this shoot?” I asked the director, “Well, matter of fact, yes he is, now go get him dressed, not a second to lose.” He said as the model approached me and shook hands with me. “Arkin, pleased to meet you,” he introduced himself. “Likewise, Bradford here, put these on in five minutes and go run to the set.” I sternly instructed.
After he put the clothes on, the shoot started immediately, weird, I was fascinated by him, now, this could hint my being experimental, but I just shook it off, thinking that I’m just amazed on how the models act professional during the shoot. “Sometime in your stay, you shall meet a man of his liking, he may contain the same face but bears a different soul” the voice haunted me yet again. Annoyed, I tried to ignore it, choosing to peruse the models’ portfolios.
Shortly after the shoot, the photographer declared a wrap. Everyone started to go to different places they were designated to and the models went to their other jobs. Now, this Arkin character approached me and asked if we can both have coffee or tea after the shoot. He seems to be a nice person so I agreed. “Great, I’ll be in the coffee shop outside,” Arkin said as he left the studio.
I went back to my cubicle and finally, Spencer dismissed me. It was a fairly tiring day and just in time for lunch. Once again, I heard the haunting voice as I exited the building, this time, it was inaudible, but as I looked back to the elevator, I caught a glimpse of a purple mist, similar to what I saw earlier. I started to be frightened, so I just pulled out a stick of cigarette and started to calm my nerves.
From where I was standing, I saw Arkin waiting for me outside the coffee shop. I approached him slowly and he asked for a cigarette. “Hey, were you waiting for me?” I asked him, “Of course I was, I want to be friends with you, you’re interesting,” he told me. “Thank you, you are too,” I said as I inhaled the smoke from my stick. “Hey, you were rude to me earlier,” he told me teasingly, “Oh, excuse that, I thought you were a thief or something,” I explained. “This handsome face would look like a thief to you?” he jokingly asked. “Of course it does,” I immediately answered as we both finished our sticks.
“So, do you wanna just grab some coffee or have lunch?” he asked me. Well, I’m up for bagels and minted green tea, how about you?” I asked him as I rubbed the ashes from my chest. “Bagels are fine, I need to lose a couple of pounds,” he answered. “But you’re good to go, you don’t need to go on a diet,” I told him. “Oh,” he smirked, “So you think I’m strapping?” he continued. “No, it’s just that, well, yeah.” I answered as blood suddenly rushed to my cheeks. “You’re blushing,” he whispered. “Of course I am, it’s the weather.” I rudely fired.
After our brief conversation, I sat on the place where I was earlier and he followed. “Hey, I can order for you, and, my treat,” he offered. “Really? You sure you won’t mind?” I asked him politely. “Its fine, to my new friend,” he expressed as he pat me on my shoulder.
After for what seemingly felt like an hour, he came with our food. Regular bagel and Minted Green tea and he was having also a regular bagel with a New England roast sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon. “Hey, that’s my favorite roast,” I shared. “Really? Cool, we have a lot in common,” he said as he sliced the bagel. “It’s just coffee, nothing else,” I whispered. “Hey, do you live nearby? I can drive you home, I really have nothing else to do,” he offered. “Well, I live by the forest, are you sure? I mean, don’t you have to go to a casting and stuff?” I asked him. “My agent called me, finally, he gave me a day off,” he answered. “Modeling must be so hard,” I whispered. “Well, yeah, but when you get the hang of it, you’ll enjoy it.” He explained.
We boarded his car shortly after lunch and a few sticks. The drive was fairly silent, but his stereo killed the awkward silence. “Well, there’s my house,” I pointed out, “Wow, it looks like a cozy place to stay,” he said, “Yeah, cozy’s the term, well, I guess I better be going,” I said as I left his car, “Thanks for the ride,” I said as I waved him good bye. He suddenly turned to me and whispered, “Don’t mention it, and you’re fairly cute,” and he drove off. Fairly cute. Wow.
Time seemed to fly and last thing I know, I was already having dinner, in between my usual activities at home, I’d see the purple mist or hear the haunting voice, and to be honest, I was getting used to it.