Crossing On A Thin Line
by Anuar Tahir
Chapter 5: Of Chances and Coincidences
Beads of sweat trickled down Arnold’s forehead. He gripped both of the armrest; squeezing the life out of it. He shifted his legs and stood up; he looked straight into his lecturer’s tired and bloodshot eyes.
“Poor Mr Jenkins, I understand why he was late for class” Arnold thought to himself as he approached the wooden desk where Mr Jenkins sat.
Mr Jenkins averted his eyes away from Arnold’s gaze. He looked down on the pile of unmarked mid-term test papers and massaged his wrinkled temples.
“I know this is sudden for you. Please take up this opportunity, there won’t be another chance for you or any other student for that matter” Mr Jenkins asserted.
Arnold placed both his hands on the desk; looking down on his lecturer. There were a few strands of white hair; he had been teaching in Dunston High for nearly two decades.
“But Mr Jenkins, no matter what you do there is no other way you can change the way who I am!” Arnold raised his voice.
Mr Jenkins stopped massaging his temple. He stood up and looked into Arnold’s eyes again. He reached out his frail arms and placed them on Arnold’s shoulder to soothe his uncontrollable angst. Arnold jerked; he tried his best to calm down.
Arnold turned around; looking at the grand collection of books that surrounded him. He took small, courageous steps towards an old dusted leather book hidden amongst the vast array of books. He took the book out from the shelf.
“Read it, it’s fine” Mr Jenkins said,
Arnold flipped open the dusty cover and came across a bookmarked page. He stood rigidly as he saw a note.
“You – Monday, November 29 1971
Dear Clare. 4 years and 361 days. Never has there been a day I stopped thinking about you.
I made the wrong decision and it was my fault to have left you hanging in the balance. I left you in pursuit of my dreams. Hope you are doing fine with your life. I am sorry I couldn’t meet you on Oct 15 back then. Hopefully, we will meet one another in 5 days after for so long.
Your Special Friend,
Mr Jenkins got up from his seat and stood beside Arnold; who was still staring at the note.
“Look Arnold. In life, we have to make life-changing decisions. Whatever decision you make should be a culmination of the learning lessons of your past mistakes. There is no definite route for anyone. God knows. Choose wisely when he lay down that path to you” Mr Jenkins lectured.
Arnold placed the book back onto the shelf and returned to his seat. Mr Jenkins turned; his eyes gleaming with excitement and fear.
“I have made my decision. I want to take up internship.” Arnold said in gusto
“Good! your first day of work is tomorrow” Mr Jenkins said
Arnold scavenged his old pine wardrobe; desperately trying to find the best office wear. He chugged away all his old clothes in a tiny corner of his wardrobe. He took out a plain white long-sleeved shirt and long slim fit jeans.
“Arnold! Shouldn’t you be in school now?” Zoey shouted from across the kitchen.
“Nope! I’ll be working as a responsible young adult. I’m on internship now!” Arnold shouted from his room
Zoey smirked. Arnold’s bravado speech didn’t convince his mother of his faux confidence.
His mother was serving up a platter of her famous old English flapjacks; crispy golden brown crust that goes well with any maple syrup.
He styled his long and messy hair with a few dabs of Vo5 wax and gave his best smile on the mirror placed in between two of his favourite posters; Muse and The Killers.
“This will make a good impression on them, I hope.” Arnold reassured himself.
He looked on the face of his batman watch; it was 7.15. He quickly gathered his portfolio and accolades he received throughout the years in Dunston High and chugged it inside his black Bershka sling bag.
“You don’t have to worry about any interviews or formal induction, they are ready to take you in” Arnold remembered what Mr Jenkins told him before he left the office yesterday.
“Better to be safe than sorry eh? A couple of certificates aren’t that heavy after all” Arnold thought.
He grabbed a few quick bites of his mum’s flapjacks and drank a whole cup of hot chocolate milk his mother prepared for him.
Arnold took his house keys left house for his first day at work.
Arnold stood outside of “Searchbook” The grandeur of the tall 58-storey office building erected before him; shiny new panels of tinted black windows and fresh beige white coat of paint awed Arnold. He took a moment’s breath to face an exciting new future ahead of him.
He took a good look at himself, tilted up and down from head to toe; checking for every noticeable crease and stubborn stains visible to the naked eye. He loosened the suffocating grip of his Bershka sling bag.
He took light quick steps and entered the building.
“Here goes nothing…” Arnold thought to himself.
A cold blast of air gave him the shivers. Everyone was wearing solemn business outfits. Arnold looked towards the centre of the lobby. An elaborate fountain spouted tall jets of water, reaching as high as 5th floor. The first 5 floors were designed like a rotunda. The general public had access to only the 5 floors.
“Searchbook” is a global phenomenon; it was the corporation that made the most popular social networking platform; bridging people from all walks of life.
Arnold saw Asian tourists taking photos by the railings overlooking the fountain.
“Enough with all the sightseeing, let’s get started.” Arnold thought.
Arnold scanned around to get his way around the lobby. A lady receptionist motioned; she smiled and nodded to acknowledge Arnold’s first day at work.
“Hi, my name is Eve. You must be Arnold from Dunston High, may I have a look at your identification card?” Eve asked.
“Please proceed to level 11, creative engagement department. It is right beside the human resources department. Take this badge along with you at all times. Use it to access your level by tapping the card on the lift. Meet Mr Jenkins and Mr Anuar once you’ve reached.” Eve explained.
Arnold walked towards the lift lobby; a large sprawling hall of elevators with madmen rushing in and out of the lifts.
He entered an empty lift, took out the card and pressed on the button up to level 11. A classical Beethoven music played in the background and he hummed along to it.
The lift doors opened. A familiar face popped up in front of him.
“Eynn?” Arnold questioned.
©Anuar Tahir. The story is the work of fiction. Any ideas and characters in the story are wholly owned by Anuar Tahir. Do not republish it under your name.
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