...time won't let me go
if i could do it all again
i'd go back and change everything
but time won't let me go...
"Siren, I'm hungry. What's for snack?" My charge, Max, was tugging on my hand as we crossed the super busy street. He's turning out to be a fine specimen of a growing boy, always thinking of his stomach.
"Yea, Siren, what's for snack?" My other charge, Sophia, Max's younger sister, was on my other hand.
"I dunno guys. I dunno what chef left in the fridge. You know he's on vacation with your mum and dad." Max and Sophia's parents are currently cruising the Mediterranean in their private yacht, leaving me to figure out how the hell to cook their expensive, healthy crap their mum is shoving down their throats. "You know what guys, why don't we go to the park? We can even get shave ice." Living in New York City, you get to loving, and living off of, street food.
"What's shave ice?" Sophia looked up at me with the biggest, most innocent blue eyes since she didn't know what any food over one hundred calories or wasn't in another language was. Max was wondering the same thing, only internally.
"It's ice...with coloured syrup on it." I've lived on shave ice every day of every summer of most of my life and had difficulty in describing it. Sophia still didn't understand, but she shook her head and walked with me towards their high rise flat building.
"Hey Lenny." I said hello to the doorman who was always nice to me and helped me land this job. If the kid's mother hadn't been frantic one weekend, and if he didn't owe my Da a favour, then I'd be who knows where right now. He waved back to me and went back to his telephone call. We shuffled into the lift and I pushed the access code for their mega-flat, as I called it. It was basically a large house spread out onto three floors of the building. We were going to the third floor, where all of the kid's rooms were situated.
When the doors opened, Max and Sophia quickly ran to their rooms, eager to get out of the hot and itchy material school uniform they were currently in. I picked up their discarded bags and tossed them into the living room. School was almost over, and they were in kindergarten and first grade, so I doubt they had homework. They both came back out at the same time in jeans and t-shirts. For rich kids, they liked looking low key, even though these outfits alone cost more than my wardrobe combined. I noticed with satisfaction that they matched, since most kids of their age are running around looking like they got lost in a paint factory.
"Ready?" They both nodded and ran back to the lift, excited about going to the park. Usually when their mother was home, they were left doing educational and stuffy after school activities, and they just wanted to be kids when she wasn't around.
We went back down and walked across the street to the park. Living on the West side gives you this advantage. I saw that Max had dug up a Frisbee and quickly found a friend to play with. I noticed that it was a boy from school, though I couldn't for the life of me remember his name, but he had come over the mega-flat a lot, so I wasn't worried. I saw the boys elderly nanny nearby, probably thankful that the boy could entertain himself for a few minutes. Sophia hung around me for a while, talking about things in her five year old world. I love kids, so I patiently listened to her connoisseur tips on dressing up Barbie's. Luckily, one of her friends came over with said play toy, and they quickly settled in front of me while the girl's nanny sat next to me. Does no one play with their own kids anymore?
"Hey Mags, I didn't know you were going to be here today." The girl next to me, a little older than me, leaned back against the bench and ran her hand through her hair.
"I didn't either, but Catherine just had to come. She had piano lessons, but the teacher was sick, so she told me she was going to the park." She laughed a little at this statement, and I thought it was funny too.
"She's only five and already giving orders."
"She's attached to her mother like cancer and imitates everything she does. Her mom told off the maid the other day, in very colourful language, because she didn't make the bed right, and Catherine was at her ankles taking it all in. I don't get the child, but then I'm just paid to shuttle her around and make sure she isn't kidnapped."
"We can't all be super nanny. I'm just thankful I got the good eggs." Like I said before, I love kids. I just don't know what I would do if I had a little brat like Catherine.
"Lucky. But it doesn't matter since I have another job lined up. I leave next week for Hollywood."
"Now who's lucky? But that's ok, weird people live in California. But I wouldn't mind the beaches."
"You don't hear me complaining. I'd go to Alaska if it meant getting away from this spoiled princess. Even if her mother gave me half her jewelry collection, I wouldn't stay. Now that school's over, I have no fears of leaving. Her mother will find another down-on-their-luck college student."
"Good for you. Who knows, maybe you'll meet a guy out there and have a reason to stay permanently."
"Nah, Hollywood's not my style. Maybe for a fling, but I'd have to come back. I'm an East Coast kinda girl. Give me an Arab street vendour over hippy millionaires any day."
"Being rich isn't all that bad. But yea, I dunno if I could survive without a nice 'mystery meat' kabob once in a while. Ah, speaking of vendour's, I promised the kids shave ice. Can you believe they don't even know what that is?" I stood up and stretched my legs while Maggie gave me the same wide eye stare Sophia did only hers was for a different reason.
"Get out. I thought every child in the city knows what shave ice is. It's a shame we're not in Brooklyn. It's so much better across the bridge."
"I know, but I know a guy in the park who comes over every Friday and it's just as good. Would you mind watching them for five minutes while I run over and get it? He's always under the same tree."
"Yea, no problem, it'll give me a chance to rest. Catherine was dragging me around and talking incessantly about God knows what. I need to invest in ear plugs." I laughed while running down the path. In five minutes I was juggling six paper cones of shave ice in my hands, trying not to let them fall. But if I can do the same thing with plates, I don't have to worry. I got back and saw Catherine screaming at Maggie for some unknown reason and the poor soul was just sitting there taking it.
"You stupid fool; we were supposed to be home half an hour ago. Don't you know my show comes on at five o'clock? Don't you know anything? God!" Sophia was just standing there, watching her, not knowing what to do. Max was still with his friend oblivious to the situation.
"Here Sophia." I tapped the girl's shoulder while the brat continued to rant. Max noticed I had returned, and with food in my hand, so he and his friend came running over with the other boy's nanny following him. I handed both of the boys their ice and gave Maggie hers and Catherine's. She tried to give it to the girl, but she had other plans in mind. She took one look at the multi coloured, semi melted ice and dumped it on Maggie's head.
"That's what you get, you stupid bitch. You're useless, just like mommy says; you can't even remember to get me back home in time for a show." I saw something in Maggie snap and she grabbed the little girl by the arm and pulled her face to face with her.
"Actually, you're the useless one, you little brat. I can't believe I even put up with you, you spoiled, worthless excuse for a little girl." With that, she took a handful of ice, which was nearing towards her face, and smeared it on the girl's dress, which was puritanically white. The little girl started shrieking, but then broke down into tears. I stood in shock, while Maggie had a smile on her face, and the other boy's nanny was laughing.
"It's not funny, you old toad. This is my favourite dress." She went over to the other nanny and kicked her in the leg. Maggie swiftly grabbed Catherine and swatted her a good one on the behind before taking her by the hand and dragging her out of the park, the girl screaming and crying bloody murder.
"It's a good thing that girl is not my responsibility because she would be black and blue. Thank goodness Jackson knows whose boss and behaves." I laughed a little uncertainly at this comment. The boys had finished their ice, and Sophia was half way done with hers.
"I think I want to head back soon you two. You know that your bedtime is seven thirty, and we have much to do before then. Finish your ice Sophia and say good bye Max." These last few minutes made me really tired and I didn't want to rush getting ready.
"Do we have to Siren?" Max couldn't wait for summer vacation to really start when he would have all day to play outside.
"Yes, we do. I have to figure out what's for dinner and you two need to take a bath before bed since you've been playing outside. Besides, if we go back now, then you can watch a movie before bed, and I'll even let you eat in the living room." Since it was kid proof furniture on their floor of the mega-flat, I didn't worry about the inevitable mess to be cleaned up. This was a treat to the kids, who either ate in the kitchen with me when we were alone or the dining room when their parents were home. Their mother is the stuffy kind who likes pomp and formality.
"Ok, I'll come." Max said this as if he had a choice in the matter. Sophia was done with her ice and added her wet cup to the pile I already had in my hand.
"That was good Siren. I never tasted anything that sweet before." Sophia smiled and her teeth were an interesting shade of green and blue. Max had eaten like a pig and his face was every colour than what it should have been. I just hope the people walking down the street don't think they have some sort of disease.
"I'm glad you like it, and maybe it would be best not to tell your mum about this. Same to you Max." I think she would pass out knowing that her kids had ingested something that wasn't organic and didn't nourish anything except childish cravings. Lord knows how I'm going to put them to bed tonight. I wish you could access the mega-flat by stairs, because that would defiantly tire them out, climbing all one hundred stories. But no can do.
We waved goodbye to Jackson and his nanny, and crossed the street in rush hour traffic. Fool that I am, I forgot about it. But we made it back in one piece, and we went into the nicely air conditioned lobby. Lenny was still at his desk, waiting for his shift to end. He waved at us going into the lift, and the doors closed back again. We went to the third floor where the kids popped in 'A Night at the Museum'. I went to the second floor where the kitchen was. When I walked down the hall though, I saw a scary sight. Someone was sitting at the kitchen counter and looked like it was eating. The figure was in a dark shirt and dark jeans, with a guitar box on the stool next to it. I didn't know anybody who would have the access code to the lift, and unless you were Spiderman you couldn't get into the apartment any other way. I quietly went into another room and rang the desk; hopefully Lenny was off the phone.
"Hey Lenny, I've got a strange question for you. Did you happen to see a darkly clad person come into the building and get on the lift?" I know, why am I not ringing the police? Because Lenny sees everyone who comes into the building and knows where they're going, and if he doesn't already, he makes it his business to know.
"Of course, Siren, that's Mr. Kingston's oldest son." This was Max and Sophia's father.
"Eh? Come again?"
"You don't know the other Kingston, Max and Sophia's half brother?"
"Uh, no, that little fact has escaped my knowledge. I'm surprised the kids didn't tell me. They tell me everything."
"It figures. The new Mrs. Kingston doesn't like mentioning him and the only photos of him are at Mr. Kingston's office. She told him to get them out of her sight." See why I went to Lenny first. He sees all and knows all.
"Really? I didn't know there was an old Mrs. Kingston. The way their mother goes around, you couldn't tell."
"Oh yea, nasty divorce it was. She was Spanish and he didn't like her ways. Too foreign for him. He paid up a hefty amount to get her to leave as soon as possible and she took her son back to her country."
"Well, this wife is so American it hurts. I dunno what she thinks of me, being 'foreign' and all."
"Yea, but you're not as concentrated as the first wife. She had never set foot on American soil before the wedding, and she hated every minute of it."
"Interesting. Well, I've got to go Lenny, but thanks for filling me in."
"No problem Siren, anytime." I hung up the phone and left the room only half as scared as when I had come into it. I walked back down the hall towards the kitchen slowly and quietly. The guy was still sitting at the counter. I walked up to him as silently as I could and tapped him on the shoulder. He quickly turned around, jumped out of his seat and stared at me like I had three heads. I did the same thing, but for different reasons. The guy in front of me was the hottest thing created since sliced bread. Bad simile, I know, but you come up with something better when you have a god from another world in front of you.
He was standing, so I could see that he had to be a good 6'2", tall like his dad. I kept staring and I started to see his father in his face. Both of the younger kids had taken after their mother, so I'm glad Mr. Kingston had somebody to take after him. He had eagle blue eyes like his father, a long straight nose, nice lips, and almost platinum blond hair. He had golden eyebrows and slight five o'clock shadow that was also blonde. I noticed an eyebrow piercing and he had a tattoo on his right, very muscular, arm. All in all, the man was gorgeous.
"Who are you?" He had a slight accent, a delicious sound that was a mixture of Spanish and English.
"I could ask the same question." He raised an eyebrow and kept looking at me like I was an alien that just beamed down from space.
"You are not Karen are you?" I detected a slightly angry note creep into his voice.
"Then who are you?" I could tell he was from Spain because he had that slight lisp when he spoke.
"The kid's nanny."
"Your half brother and sister, Max and Sophia." A reflex went off and his foot hit the counter.
"They are here?"
"Yea, is that a problem?"
"They are not supposed to be here."
"Same for you. Your dad never said you were coming." Yea, I know I'm fighting with the employer's estranged son, but it's not like he's ever been here before. If what Lenny told me is true, the new wife didn't want him around. Big stretch of the imagination, I know.
He gave a slight growl before answering me. His eyes were dilated and started turning a darker blue. "To my knowledge, my dad and his toy were on holiday."
"They are." I'm not seeing the connection.
"Then why are their kids here?" He doesn't get it.
"What, you thought they were going to bring them? That's funny. I've been with your siblings for two years now and their parents have been on a total of six vacations, with only two including the entire family because of Christmas." He seemed to soak this in all without moving his gaze off mine.
"I see. Well, I was planning on staying."
"Gotcha. Well, all spare bedrooms are on the third floor, where your brother and sister are for the moment. Now, do excuse me while I figure out what to make for dinner." I went towards the fridge and opened it, half hoping a fully prepared meal would fall out.
"They're on American hours." I shuffled around in there a little bit, an idea coming to me.
"And you are not?"
"Nope." I came out of the fridge with butter, cheese, and milk in my hand. I set them on the counter next to the stove and went to the cabinets for pasta and a saucepan.
"I should expect that since you have an accent. I do not believe that Karen has resorted to hiring illegal's to watch over her precious American brood?" He practically spat these words out. I came back up for air with my pan, a box of swirly pasta, and a grater.
"I'm not illegal. I was the only one she could get in an emergency two years ago and she hasn't looked back since." He didn't respond for a few minutes, watching me prep for cooking.
"I can tell you are not American. You're making food from scratch."
"I'm not gourmet, but I despise frozen food. You can never get that freeze dried taste out, even when you do cook it to death." I finished grating the cheese and the water had started boiling so I dropped the pasta in. "Are you going to have any?" I noticed the dirty dish in front of him but that didn't mean he was finished for the night. He shrugged. I dropped in the rest of the box in and turned around to face him again. "By the way, I don't know your name."
"Ferdinand." That was probably the only thing Spanish about him. He looked like a Norse Viking god.
"Siren." I turned around again to stir the pasta because theirs nothing worse then when it sticks together and feels like glue in your mouth.
"It's a nick name."
"What is your real name?"
"Saoirse. I'm Irish, but no one in school here could pronounce it right so someone gave me a nickname."
He didn't say anything, just absorbed what I was saying and watched me cook. The pasta was done, so I strained it in the sink and put in the butter, milk, and some of the parmesan. Homemade Macaroni and Cheese tastes great and is mass producible. I added the rest of the cheese and pretty soon it was done, a nice white colour. I put it into four bowls and handed Ferdinand's his first. I grabbed the other three in my hands and headed for the stairs.
"The kids and I are eating downstairs if you want to come." He thought for a second, and then shook his head.
"I probably should not. I have only met them once and they were babies. I doubt they know I exist, and I wouldn't want to reverse any training for their family to forget my name." I shrugged and continued downstairs. The kids were still watching the movie, completely interested. They took the food from my hands, rushed a thank you, and continued staring at the screen. Normally this isn't healthy in children, but then this is the only time they've watched TV today so I let it slide. Whatever kept them grounded.
Sophia was the first to start showing signs of tiredness, so I brought her to the bathroom first and made her take a quick bath to get her clean. I put her in her night clothes and brushed her hair while she brushed her teeth, half awake. She was too tired to fight against me, so her routine went smoothly. She was out when her head touched the pillow.
I went back into the living room where Max was trying to stay awake. He wanted to fight me over dessert, but I knew there was no living with him with anymore sugar in his system. He jumped into the tub without a word and made me leave until he was in his night clothes. I opened the door when he was brushing his teeth and handed him off to bed. He was too stubborn for a night light but made me keep the door open and the hall light on. Waste of energy, I know, but whatever to get him to sleep.
I went back into the living room again and collected their dirty bowls and brought them to the kitchen to wash them. I got into the kitchen and Ferdinand was gone, the only trace of him being his dirty plate and bowl in the sink. I washed all of our dishes, and my cooking utensils, and then headed back to the third floor. I flopped on the couch and started to turn the TV onto a regular show, when I heard a guitar playing. I dunno what kind of guitar he had, since it was in the case, but whatever it was it sounded fantastic. He was playing soft, but the sound still carried over to where I was sitting. I dunno what room he was in, and hadn't heard or seen him move to this floor. Oh well, I'll find out more about this Spanish phantom tomorrow.