This is my most recent English assignment. Basically, we were just supposed to write a short story about anything. Enjoy! If you're reading, then criticism would be much appreciated!
He sped down the busy street, trying his hardest to avoid running into someone.
8:54. Only six minutes until the interview. Stupid alarm clock.
He had awoken an hour later than he was supposed to, his rundown alarm clock having finally broken from years of abuse. After uttering a few choice words, he'd scrambled to get ready. Within five minutes he was bolting out of the door, a piece of toast in his mouth and his bag half open. He was thankful that he lived on the first floor of his apartment, otherwise he would've been much later.
The recently graduated twenty-three year old was headed to the office of the Charleston Times, one of the top newspapers in the area. He was hoping to get a job as a journalist, a job he had wanted since he was very young.
He ran a bit faster when he caught sight of the newspaper's main office. The building towered over the quaint shops surrounding it, gleaming a dark onyx color in the morning sunlight. It was far more regal than he'd expected, far more formal.
The interior was just as regal as the exterior, he thought as he stepped through the automatic entrance door. Black leather couches and large potted plants stood proudly over the white marble floor, and dark stone walls stretched several feet above his head.
He didn't have time to admire the office building, though. He really didn't want to make a bad first impression at his first job interview by showing up late.
He walked briskly to the front desk, where a young lady sat behind a computer. She looked up from the screen when he approached, and plastered a smile on her face.
"Hello!" she said cheerfully. "May I help you?"
"I have a job interview," he said brusquely.
"Oh, yes, you're..." she typed something on the keyboard, "Zack Pierce, the 9:00 appointment, correct? Just go on up to the eighteenth floor, and it's the second door on your left."
"Right," he nodded, and headed to the elevators. He pressed the 'up' button, and waited. As he stood there, he idly reached into his bag. He felt the soft, weathered cloth of his oldest possession beneath his fingers, and gripped it tightly. He looked down, locks of chocolate brown hair falling over his grass-green eyes.
'They would be proud,' he told himself firmly, stepping into the wide elevator.
"Hold the door!" he heard someone yell. He looked up; a tall, blond haired man was sprinting to the elevator.
The doors began to close, so he stuck his arm out to shove them back open. The man practically flew through the doors, and put his hands on his knees to catch his breath. After he stopped panting, the man smiled gratefully at him.
"Ah, thanks!" he said. The doors closed shut, and the man reached for the number pad. "I'm floor eighteen, you?"
"Well, looks like you're stuck with me for the ride, then," the blond joked, and the elevator jerked as it started its ascent.
He observed the man, who was tapping his fingers against the sidebars. He looked as if he was in his early to mid forties, evident by the laugh lines on his face, but his grassy green eyes shone with a youthful glow. There was something strange about him, though... he seemed almost... sad?
Well, whatever. It wasn't any of his business.
He was shaken out of his thoughts when the elevator abruptly stopped with a large, sickening creak. He frowned; was that supposed to happen? That wasn't a sound a working elevator should have made.
The doors didn't open.
"Err…" the man standing next to him said. "I'm guessing that wasn't supposed to happen."
No shit, Sherlock.
He went to the number pad and pressed another floor's button. Nothing happened. He tried to open the doors, but the controls still remained unresponsive.
"It's not working," he told the older man.
The blond nodded, and pulled out his cell phone, quickly dialing a number. "Hello? Yes. Yes, it's me. Well, I think the elevator is broken. Yeah, the controls aren't doing anything. Can you see where we are? I don't know, isn't there a computer that shows that? I thought so. Between the twelfth and thirteenth floor? Is there anyway we can get out of here right now? Yeah, I have an important meeting this morning. Two to three hours at the earliest? No. No, it's fine. It's not your fault. No, there's one more person in here besides me. Well, call me if something comes up. Yes. Yeah, I know. Bye."
The man snapped his phone shut. "You heard all that, right?"
He nodded. "Yeah." He really couldn't believe his bad luck. His first job interview ever, and he gets stuck in an elevator. There goes a job opportunity.
The other man put his phone back in his pocket. "Well, since we're both gonna be in here for a while, I shouldn't be a stranger." The man stuck his hand out. "The name's Jason; I'm the president of the Charleston Times."
The president? He was alone in the elevator with the president? It was slightly intimidating, to be honest.
He shook Jason's hand. "I'm Zack."
A pained expression flashed across Jason's face when he said his name, but it was gone before he could look twice. "Good to meet you, Zack! So, what brings you here? You don't work here, do you? I don't recall seeing your face before."
He sighed. "No, I don't work here… I came for a job interview, but it looks like I'll be missing it."
He frowned when Jason started laughing. He didn't think his circumstances were that funny.
Jason wiped his eyes, still laughing a bit. "Oh, I'm sorry," he said, "but you're my nine o' clock appointment, aren't you?"
He was confused. "I thought you said you had an important meeting?"
"I do," Jason said. "I think it's important to know what kind of people this company hires, so I do the interviews myself."
That was... slightly unexpected. To think the president himself would take the time out of his day to interview people like him.
"Well, why don't we begin the interview now?" Jason suggested. "We don't have anything else to do otherwise."
So, he hadn't lost a job opportunity? Yes! He still had a chance to work here!
"That'd be great," he agreed, relieved.
"First question!" Jason's face turned serious, opposed to earlier when he looked carefree. "Why do you want to work here?"
He was a little bewildered. Weren't they supposed to ask questions like, 'what are your credentials,' or, 'how can you benefit our company,'? Well, it didn't really matter.
"It's kind of a long story, actually," he said with a hint of warning.
"We've got plenty of time, don't worry," Jason assured him.
He took a deep breath. "I just want people to know what's going on in the world, you know? I'm tired of people telling lies in the media and to each other. I grew up in a pretty rundown orphanage, and people there were always lying, all the time. And every time I'd read a newspaper, or a magazine, or watch the news, I'd always find half-truths and inconsistencies or plain out things that weren't true. It sickened me… And, I don't know. I just really want people to know the truth, to know what life's really like."
Jason's face adopted a thoughtful look, and he didn't say anything for a little while.
He fidgeted a little; was that a bit forward? He just accused newspapers of being inaccurate right in front of the president! Way to go, genius.
"I like your motives, kid."
Jason continued. "It seems to me that you know exactly what you're here for, and it isn't because you want money or fame. I like to see those qualities in the journalists I hire."
He was relieved; so he didn't just blow the interview! He was having too many close calls that day. "Thank you," he said with sincerity.
He was asked several more questions, and he thought most of them were a little confusing. He was asked what he liked to write about, where he liked working the best, who he lived with, and other questions similar to those.
"There's not much else I need to ask you that I can't find in your resume," Jason told him. "You don't have a criminal record, right?"
"Nope." Not that anyone knew about, anyways. No one needed to know about the food he stole when he was a kid; it wasn't important anymore.
A screeching noise pierced through the air; he was alarmed, before he realized it was just Jason's phone ringing.
"Dammit," Jason swore. "That's my business ringtone." No wonder it sounded so terrible.
Jason pulled his phone from his pocket, cleared his throat, and answered in a clear, formal voice.
"The Charleston Times president Jason Pierce speaking, how can I help you?"
"No, I'm not currently available. I apologize for any inconveniences, but our office has been having some technical difficulties, and I'm currently in a broken elevator. Yes. I will be out by noon at the latest, so if you still need me, you can call me back. Thank you for your understanding, and have a nice day." He snapped shut his cell phone.
"God, I hate talking like that," Jason said with a bit of distaste.
"Your last name's Pierce?" he asked as Jason slipped his phone away. "It's mine too. That's kind of a coincidence, huh?"
"You…" the man stared intently at his face. "Your name is… Zachary Pierce?"
He was a little unnerved by the intense look in the older man's eyes, but he nodded anyways. "Yeah. Why? I don't owe you money or anything, right?" he halfheartedly joked.
Jason's eyes widened in shock, and he heard the man mumble under his breath, 'it can't be…'
Those words made him a bit apprehensive. He wondered if he really did owe him money. That would be a bit of a conversation killer. He was poor enough as it was, anyways, and he didn't-
"May 19th," Jason stated quietly. "Your birthday is May 19th. You turned twenty-three a week ago, didn't you." It was a statement, not a question.
He was startled, and a little freaked out too. "How the hell did you know that? Do you know me? Who are you?"
Jason nearly fell over, the wall behind him his only source of support. "Oh my God…" he whispered. "Oh my God… it's you… it's really you."
He was thoroughly alarmed at this point. "What are you talking about? I've never met you before in my life! I think you'd better start explaining, now."
The older man's eyes were opened wide with astonishment, but he appeared to try composing himself.
"Okay. You might not believe me, you might think I'm insane… but please hear me out." Jason took a long, deep breath. "Twenty-two years ago, I had a great life. I'd been married toAlicefor three years already, and we had a beautiful baby boy. We were young, but we were happy beyond imagination.
"We didn't have a lot of money back then, so we both had fulltime jobs. Since neither of us could be at home to look after our son, we took him to a daycare every day. If we were ever running late to work, our neighbor would always take him to daycare on her way to school. She was such a thoughtful girl…"
He didn't miss how Jason said 'was'. Something told him this story was going to turn sour.
"It was a few weeks after our son's first birthday. My wife and I were both behind schedule that morning, and our neighbor drove him to daycare that day. It was a normal occurrence; we weren't concerned, we weren't worried.
"But when I went to the daycare after work, I was told that my son had never been dropped off."
A pit of ice formed in his gut; if this story was going where he thought it was… But no. That was impossible.
Jason paused for a few seconds to recollect himself. "The police called me a few minutes later. They found our neighbor's car totaled in a ditch. She was in the front seat, dead. Our son's body was missing. They never found him.
"Alice and I were heartbroken, absolutely heartbroken. We'd just lost our son. The precious little boy we had loved with all our hearts."
His eyes shot open in stunned comprehension when he heard that last line. Those words…
"His name." He looked back at Jason. "Your son's name… It was…"
In hindsight, the question really wasn't necessary. He already knew the answer.
Jason nodded. "My son's name was… no, is… Zachary James Pierce."
He couldn't believe it. He could not believe it. This man, this person he just happened to get stuck in an elevator with... Was his father?
Anger flooded his veins. Weren't orphanages supposed to make sure that the kids they took in were actually orphans? If he'd had the same name, the same looks, even the same goddamn birthday as a baby who had gone missing in the same area... then why didn't they find his parents? Did they even look at all? If they'd even bother to make a single phone call, then would he have actually grown up with a family?
It didn't matter, anyways. He was twenty three years old; he didn't need a father. Not anymore. He was perfectly fine by himself… Right?
He tried to rein in his resentment and focus on the current situation. How could he be sure that the other man wasn't lying? There was only one thing he could think of that would prove it once and for all.
"If you're telling the truth," his voice shook, and he tried to calm himself. "If I really am your... son... then..." He reached into his bag, and pulled out a small object.
It was a stuffed bear. An old, beaten up teddy bear. One of its eyes had been glued on unevenly, and there were several rips and tears that had been carefully stitched back together. It was thin around the middle, the stuffing having been flattened from the arms of a small child. And on its left ear, attached with a short piece of string, was a small card.
"Then you'll recognize this, won't you?"
Jason's hand wavered as he reached out to touch the bear in his hand.
"This is," he choked out, "your first birthday present..." And he opened the small card on its ear, already knowing what it would say.
To Zack Pierce, our darling son. Happy first birthday! We are so, so proud of you, and we love you with all our hearts. Love, Mom and Dad
"I had it with me when they found me," he explained. "I guess it's how they knew my name, and how they knew how old I-"
He stopped speaking when arms wrapped around his sides in a strong, desperate embrace.
The bear fell to the ground.
It was quite surreal, actually. He could hear the man (his father)sobbing, could feel the warm arms holding him tightly, as if they never wanted to let go, as if they were afraid that if they did, he'd be gone again. It was strange. He'd convinced himself long ago that he didn't need parents, that he didn't want them, because it would hurt more if he did. But now...
The feeling of complete and utter safety he felt in those arms, the feeling that everything would be alright, that he wouldn't have to hurt anymore... A part of him wanted to be held like this forever.
Was this what it felt like to be held by a father?
Yes. Yes, it was.
He felt the beginnings of tears form in his eyes, and he found himself holding on to his father's shirt, returning the embrace just as tightly.
They remained in that position for forty-seven minutes.
Ring! Ring! Ring!
…Until their emotional reunion was ruined by that blasted ringtone.
Jason sighed, and untangled his arms from their prolonged hug. "I have to answer it," he apologized, before lifting the phone to his ear. " The Charleston Times president Jason Pierce speaking, how can I help you?... Really? That's great! Alright. Oh, yes, by the way… I've decided to take the day off. Yes, please cancel any appointments I might've had today. Yes, I'm serious! I just need to stop by my office for a second, and then I'll be off. Why am I taking the day off? Well, it's family related. Yes, I know. Bye." He hung up.
"They've fixed the elevator, they said it'll start moving any second now," Jason informed him.
Instead of being relieved, that piece of information actually bothered him. He suddenly felt very uncomfortable, and he tried not to let it show on his face. Jason was observant, though, and the older man shot him a look of concern.
"Hey, what's the matter?" Jason asked him.
He looked down. "What happens now?"
His father gave him a small smile. "This is what we're going to do," he said. "First, we're going to my office to grab your resume. Then, you're coming with me to my house."
"Right now?" he asked. "And why?"
"Yes, now!" Jason laughed. "And you're coming to my house, because it's about time you met your mother and your sisters."
Sisters? He had sisters?
"You have two sisters, Hannah and Leah," Jason said, answering his unvoiced question. "They're seventeen and twelve."
He had sisters… All in all, it was all rather amazing. He woke up this morning an orphan, and now he has a father, a mother, and sisters. And maybe even grandparents too? Aunts? Uncles?
This was a lot to take in.
The elevator shuddered, and once again it began to move upwards. Only seconds later did the elevator doors open with a ding, signaling their arrival to the eighteenth floor.
As the two of them finally left the elevator, and headed towards Jason's office, a thought struck him.
"Does this mean I get the job?"
Okay, I know it was a bit cheesy (a lot cheesy)... but I tried! Once again, criticism is more than welcome!