The fog she created with her breath slowly filled the glass cup in her hands giving it a frosted look. Watching it fade, she puffed into the glass again before setting it down on the desk in front of her.
She was bored.
She checked her to-do list for the fifth time, making sure she really had nothing left to do.
Nope, it was all done. All she had left to do was wait.
Amara sat at her desk, listlessly clearing things off and reorganize everything in her reach as she waited for the day to end. Only thirty more minutes and she could go home. Then she would take a shower, make some tea and just relax. It was the weekend and she wouldn't have to be back at this hell-hole for two days. A smile crossed her face as she began to map out her weekend plans.
"Amara, oh, we're heading out. You can leave now too." The voice of Yemi Oguntade, the editorial director of African Pride interrupted Amara from her thoughts. "We will see you on Monday."
Amara smiled weakly and watched as the other editors filed out of the office after Yemi. She nodded goodbye as each one passed and exchanged parting remarks.
Everyday, it was just her and them. The editors and the editorial assistant. She thought it was fun being the only other staff the magazine had. But besides the random delivery boys who made their way to the office, Amara had no one to interact with. Being 22, the editors thought her young and not mature enough to consult about anything actually regarding the magazine. Nor did they bother holding conversation of any kind with her. She was still considered a child. Children simply do what adults ask of them, and nothing else.
It was the end of her second month as an editorial assistant at African Pride Magazine. She had been thrilled initially, but post-graduate life wasn't as glamorous as Amara dreamed it would be. There was no sensational writing job waiting for her as, or after, she walked across the stage and accepted her diploma. There wasn't even a well paying one. Instead she worked like a slave for a group of five African editors, who were often ornery and seemed to never be able to do anything for themselves.
I am simply paying my dues, she thought, checking her list one more time. She had made sure everything was set up for the meetings and interviews needed to get the next issue rolling. She had shifted through the paltry letters from readers, a number which was growing with each passing day. Although she wasn't allowed to actually do anything important for the magazine, she had to make sure everything was always in order. If anything ever went wrong, the editors would never blame themselves, they'd blame Amara.
"Well, that's it for the week." Amara grabbed her coat and purse and locked the office door behind her. "Until Monday."
Her job wasn't all bad and Amara knew it. In a way, she was lucky to work with African Pride. It was a nascent magazine and within its first two months it was doing a lot better than anyone expected it to. When Amara saw the job posting for editorial assistant she had never been more excited. How often does the opportunity to help create something great come along?
Getting the job was easier than she thought. Yemi had taken to her from the beginning and decided she'd be Amara's mentor in the "real world." It also helped that Amara was of Nigerian decent and held a degree in creative writing and regional studies, emphasis on Africa. She knew how to write, and wanted to write, and she was dedicated to African issues.
"Most of these young Africans, all they do is engineering or medicine these days," Yemi had said during their interview. "Where would the world be without writers, eh? You tell me."
Amara tried hard not to laugh at the look of disgust and annoyance on Yemi's face. She thought of her father who seemed a little disappointed that she had no intentions of going to law school after she graduated. He was shocked that she really wanted to just be a writer. When she got the job at the magazine, her dad finally consented – maybe there were a few decent career choices for writers. But he still hoped she'd be a lawyer.
"God will help you," he said, worried if she would be able to feed herself and pay the ever amounting bills she often came to them with. They had plans to leave the country again and wouldn't be able to subsidize her living expenses any longer.
So while her parents were disappointed by her choice, Yemi had been thrilled, making Amara want the job so much more. Not that she wanted to go against her parents, but maybe working for another African adult who supported her goals would help turn her parents' opinion around. Amara wanted to write and it looked like Yemi would give her that opportunity.
Only, she didn't.
Amara's duties at the magazine included everything except actually contributing to what went in the magazine. Within these two months, the closest she had gotten was picking out the letters to the editor to go into the latest issue. True, it had only been two months, and only one issue had made its way to the public. But even as she expected her responsibilities to grow with time, Amara felt like a mere house girl in the office. Although she hated it, she played the respectful Nigerian girl doing everything her elders asked of her.
"All in due time," she reassured herself once more as she finally arrived at her apartment. Would her life always be a disappointment? Nothing had been going according to plan this whole year. It seemed there were always bumps in the road. If it wasn't one thing, it was another. Amara let out a defeated sigh and sent a quick prayer to heaven, asking for patience, as she collapsed on one of the beanbags on her apartment floor.
Her apartment was a small studio. One room that served as living room, dining room, bedroom and kitchen. The only room with an actual wall cutting it off from the rest of the apartment was the bathroom. She had used a red sectional couch to cut the kitchen off from the living room and a matching red curtain with white trimming hid her bed from the living room. When she had signed the lease on her apartment, her mom had bought her a large white rug with a red swirl design as a housewarming gift and it served as inspiration for the rest of her apartment. Everything was either red or white, with the occasional black here and there. It wasn't much, and it left her close to broke every month, but it was her own and she loved it.
Amara picked up the phone and dialed her best friend Stasi's number.
"Home of the Young, Glamorous and soon to be married! How may I help you?"
"Hey Stasi, it's me." She tried to match the excitement in Stasi's voice and failed.
" 'Mara, I was so about to call you! We have to hang out this weekend." Stasi sounded chipper as always and whatever irritation Amara had brought home from work began to melt away. "This will be the last weekend we can hang out as Amara and Anastasia, the two hottest singles in New York."
"Stasi, you're getting married in two weeks, we still have next weekend to hang too you know."
"Yes, but next weekend is all the bridal stuff – the shower, the bachelorette party, spa day. It won't be just us."
Amara could hardly believe that her best friend was getting married. They had been planning for this day since they day they met and it was finally happening. Although she was happy for Stasi, a part of her was sad and maybe even a little jealous. Things always worked out for Stasi, never for Amara.
She silently said another quick prayer, this time asking that she remained happy for her friend and didn't allow resentment to seep in.
"So what's the plan?" Amara again attempted to match the enthusiasm in Stasi's voice.
She and Stasi had been best friends since high school. They went to Columbia together, got their first apartment together and had seen each other through many heartaches and triumphs. Now all of that would be over. Amara knew that Stasi would always be there for her, like she would always be there for Stasi … but it just wouldn't be the same.
As they made plans for their weekend, Amara hoped that her day of joy would come soon, as it had come for Stasi.