Submitted Date 06/20/2019

Chapter 2


Alison woke with a start and grabbed for her phone, certain her alarm had failed her. The clock read 4:45. Her heartbeat slowed as she realized she had another hour before her alarm. Unfortunately, she knew trying to go back to sleep now would be pointless. Best to just get up and get a jump on her day.

She took her time in the shower, letting the hot water fill the tiny bathroom with steam. The pulsating water blasted the stress right out of her neck and shoulders, anxiety sure was hard on the body. Her thoughts drifted back to yesterday's events and she began to wonder how the pictures turned out from the shoot. She smiled, turned off the water, and reached for a towel. She'd always loved posing for the camera. It had been some time since she'd last felt so excited about where her life was going.

The words of that first rejection letter had stung the most, 'average features' and 'meek personality'. What did they know? She opened the bathroom door to let in a rush of cold air from the hallway, helping clear the fog covered mirror. Things were finally playing out as she had planned. Her hard work and dedication were starting to pay off.

She walked down the hall to her room to finish getting ready. The schedule she'd received said today involved a physical examination with Dr. Granger and an evaluation by a physical trainer. She got dressed in comfortable, loose-fitting workout gear, per instructions, then returned to the bathroom to dry her hair.

She didn't hear any noise from Natalie's room as she passed by, not unusual considering the schedule she kept. It had been nice to enjoy dinner and conversation together last night. The nights when Natalie had to work were always quiet and lonely. Working for the modeling agency would surely make meeting new people easy, she thought. And once she became more familiar with the neighborhood, her nights wouldn't be so boring. She smiled in the mirror. Things were finally on the right track.

Since she still had plenty of time, the first place on her radar of exploration would be that bagel shop she'd seen on her way to the agency yesterday. No telling when she'd get a chance to eat at work today. She looked at the clock on the microwave and saw that it was almost 6:15. She'd better get going before the traffic started getting crazy.

Allison was relieved to see the drive-thru at Bagel Mania only had three cars in it. She knew she had plenty of time to get to the agency but her anxieties about being late never rested. She supposed it came in handy though since rarely was she ever late. Most of the time she found herself arriving exceptionally early like today.

The agency parking lot had but two cars when she pulled into a shaded spot close to the front doors. She decided to stay in the car to eat her cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese, mostly due to her not knowing if food was allowed to be brought into the agency. There had been food in the photoshoot kitchen but she didn't recall seeing anyone eating in the office, nor did she have a lunch break during yesterday's whirlwind of an adventure.

She was lost in thought when a tap on her driver's side window jolted her back to the present. Kyle mimed the action of rolling down the window. She fumbled with the control panel and found the button for her window.

"We have a fantastic lounge inside for dining purposes. Unless you like sitting in this - - - car."

Allison blushed with embarrassment at the way he'd referred to her vehicle. She knew it didn't look like much but this car had history.

"Thank you, Kyle. I haven't received the grand tour yet. I appreciate your concern for my well-being. Shall you point me in the right direction?"

She turned off the AC, rolled up her window, and shut off the ignition before Kyle had time to assess whether her tone was of sincerity or sarcasm. She gathered her things and followed Kyle into the agency.

He gestured to their left as they entered, "That hallway takes you to the locker rooms, gym, and exercise pools. I'm sure you'll become quite familiar with the gym."

Allison recognized his tone of retaliation. He had picked up on her sarcasm after all and this kitten had claws.

" This hallway leads to the dining facilities where Chef Anthony and Chef Michelle prepare healthy snacks and entrees." He gave a disgusted look as he eyed her bagel slathered in fattening cream cheese. "Beyond the dining room is a screened-in deck overlooking the intercoastal."

" The intercoastal?"

He let out a sigh of exasperation, "Ugh, the Intercoastal Waterway."

Allison tried not to look confused but her face had a mind of its own when it came to facial expressions.

" I don't have time to explain topography, I have work to do. That way you already know takes you to the elevators and offices so... tour's over. Buh bye."

He turned and took his post at the reception desk, leaving Allison to decide for herself where to go next. she decided to see for herself what this gorgeous view Kyle spoke of was all about. She still had time to finish eating before her meeting with Ms. Garcia at 7. When she stepped out onto the deck, the sunrise greeted her with a shimmering dance as it lifted from the sea.

"Breathtaking isn't it?"

Allison jumped at the sound of Ms. Garcia's voice. She hadn't expected to find anyone out here at this early hour with so few cars in the lot.

"I always have my breakfast out here watching the sunrise. Seeing the light shine on those beautiful yachts docked in the water…..makes me feel like a kid again."

Allison wasn't sure what expensive boats had to do with being a kid but she smiled and replied, "They do look nice."

"Come. Have a seat and finish your bagel. Would you like some coffee?"

Allison took a chair and looked puzzlingly at the shot glass size cup of caramel brown liquid Ms. Garcia had offered her.

"No thank you, Ms. Garcia. I don't drink coffee."

"I'm glad to see you arrived on time. Too many young people these days showing up when they feel like it, humph. I have schedules to maintain and clients with outrageous demands to keep happy. Oh, forgive me, love. I get all worked up when I drink too much of this stuff ."

"It's okay ma'am. Everybody vents now and again or else we explode."

"Dios mio! People explode where you're from?"

Allison realized her use of a metaphor may have been lost in translation so to speak. " Well, not literally explode like a bomb but we yell and scream or throw things if we bottle up our feelings for too long. So I guess we do kind of explode like a bomb if you count the noise and mess."

She'd gone off on one of her nervous know-it-all tangents about nonsense and gave an anxious smile, waiting for a response from Ms. Garcia.

"I see. I looked through your portfolio last night and again this morning. Henri did a fabulous job, as always. just a few things to improve upon and you'll be my next Reeva, minus the tragic end I hope."

She was relieved when Ms. Garcia changed the topic of conversation. Then, just as quickly, she became concerned when Ms. Garcia made the sign of the cross after mentioning Reeva. She started to speak when suddenly Ms. Garcia stood up.

"We'll continue our conversation inside after you're done eating of course. Sit, enjoy the view. I have some calls to make. Kyle will come for you when I'm through."

After Ms. Garcia had gone inside, Allison checked her phone for the time and noticed she had missed a call from her mom. She sent her a quick text promising to call after work. She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. She finished her bagel and sat quietly, listening to the sounds of the city around her. The temperature began to rise from the direct blast of the late summer sun. Allison decided to head back inside and check out the gym and pools Kyle had mentioned on the brief tour around the lobby.

She started towards the first hallway when she heard a whistle, followed by Kyle singing out her name.

" There you are. Ms. Garcia said to send you up to Dr. Granger's office for your physical, second floor, Suite 2025."

"Thank you, Kyle."

"I do hope you remembered your paperwork. Otherwise…"

"I did thank you."

"Good for you. Gold star. Better get moving. Mustn't be late around here. Ta-ta now." He wiggled his fingers in a fluttery wave.

Allison gave an awkward wave as she passed by Kyle's desk en route to the elevators. She couldn't decide if he was trying to be nice or just professionally polite. His tone seemed to suggest the latter. She spotted the door to the stairwell and headed upstairs. She'd never been a fan of elevators. When she opened the door to the second floor, the familiar hospital smell nearly knocked her back down the stairs. She wondered why they needed such a sterile environment just for a doctor's office.

The floor-to-ceiling windows revealed unobscured views of the waterway below and the extravagant yachts sprinkled here and there. She found Suite 2025 at the opposite end of the long, curved hallway. She opened the door and was greeted by a boisterously cheerful receptionist named Kiki.

" Good morning! Welcome. How may I help you on this beautiful, blessed day?"

"Good morning. I've been sent for my orientation physical. Here's the paperwork Ms. Garcia had me fill out. " She handed the packet of forms to Kiki, who popped up from her chair like a jack-in-the-box wound too tight.

"Oh, how delightful. It's so great to have you here today. Have a seat and I'll let the doctor know you're here. Should only be a minute or two."

Allison found a seat and waited. She wasn't sure exactly what this appointment entailed. The paperwork had asked a range of health questions but the biggest chunk of questions had been about her sexual history, habits, and preferences. Not your typical medical questionnaire, even for a gynecology visit. Some questions were downright invasive and overly personal in her opinion. Fortunately, she had a very minimal history in the sex department so many questions she'd left blank.

She didn't have to wait long before being called back to the exam area. The appointment began normal enough, height and weight, blood pressure, the usual procedure of a physical. The nurse directed her to a bathroom to give a urine sample and then to a room for blood to be drawn. Allison inquired to the reason for both urine and blood samples.

"Standard procedure," the nurse replied. "Just making sure you're healthy and clean, love. Now strip down and put this on. The doctor will be in soon." The nurse handed her a thin robe and then left the room.




Allison sat in her car letting the cool air from the vent blast her in the face. She had forgotten or rather hadn't realized the need to bring a change of clothes. She knew to dress for a workout but she hadn't anticipated drowning in her own sweat.

As she buckled her seatbelt she remembered two things: (1) Nat worked tonight and (2) the only food at home was last night's leftover chicken. thank goodness for delivery service. She could order from the Mexican restaurant down the street and be showered before it arrived. The smile of satisfaction crept upon her face. Then she spotted her reflection in the mirror as she backed out of her parking spot. She looked as if she'd ran through an afternoon thunderstorm downpour without the fresh rain smell. Shower. Definitely needed a shower.

La Quebradita Mexican Restaurant had combination platters at a great price and Alison knew exactly which one she wanted, the tamale trio with rice and beans. She placed her order online and headed to the bathroom to shower off and freshen up.

After drying off and putting her hair in a towel, she put on a pair of yoga pants and an old concert t-shirt, her first concert to be exact. The first of many shows and venues. Summers with Nat had been adventurous, enlightening, and empowering. She'd almost forgotten how big a role Natalie had played in her happiness.

The doorbell rang snapping her back to the present. The food! She bolted down the hall to the front door and greeted the driver holding her dinner. She handed him $15 in exchange for the bag and told him to keep the change. He gasped in surprise and thanked her profusely. She gathered from his reaction that tips around here were rare. She thanked him for the food and closed the door eager to devour the treasure inside. It smelled delicious.

After dinner, she called her mom to check in and tell her about how things were going at the agency. A drowsy voice answered after several rings.


"Oh, momma, did I wake you?" She hadn't checked the time before calling but didn't figure it could be all that late to have woken her mother.

"No dear, I just haven't felt well today and decided to lie down. I needed some rest. How are you doing? How's life in the big city?"

"Monday was unbelievable." She told her mom about barely recognizing herself after her photo shoot, about the amazing talents of the hair and make-up team, and the breathtaking views from the rooftop pool at the agency.

"That sounds wonderful dear."

She could tell by the generic response that her mother hadn't been paying attention to a word she'd said. Attention deficit disorder will do that. She sighed and decided to let it go this time.

"So how have you been doing, mom? How come you're not feeling well?"

She listened as her mother told her a myriad of stories involving incidents of self-inflicted injury including a broken toe from tripping on a table and wrecking the car into the gate of her apartment complex. Then the stories shifted to the lousy service she and Allison's father had received at The Olive Garden last week and Chili's the week before. The most recent complaint involved Pizza Shack not having her favorite dessert anymore.

"You and dad sure have bad luck at restaurants." Alison wondered if maybe it wasn't always the restaurant at fault. She knew how difficult her mother could be in those situations.

"If everyone wasn't so stupid then maybe I could actually enjoy a decent meal during a night out for once. Enough about me, how did everything go at work today?"

As much as she needed to talk to someone about what had happened at the doctor's appointment today, she knew her mom would just tell her she's overreacting again. Ali the drama queen. She'd always hated it when her mom called her that. Weren't moms supposed to be loving and supportive?

She decided not to share with her mom about how the doctor had touched her in ways that didn't seem medical in nature. How he had cupped her breasts in his hands and pinched her nipples, smiling when they became erect. She pushed the image out of her head. Feeling queasy again from the fresh memory of what had transpired during the exam.

"They provided a complete physical and an evaluation from a personal trainer. Then I spent what felt like forever sweating and panting during an extraneous workout."

"Good for you. I've been telling everyone you could use to lose a few pounds. I bet they'll have you looking great in no time."

The sting of being called fat by her own mother never hurts any less. She wiped a tear from her cheek. Momma never holds back on her opinions of others. That was certain.

"Well, mom, I'm going to turn in early tonight. Today was a long day and Nat's working tonight so I think I'll just head to bed now. Love you."

"You too dear."


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