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People in this part of town were creeping her out, so she just looked where she was going and avoided looking at anyone. Unfortunately this is the part of town she had to go through every day on the way home from school. She felt their eyes on her as she walked. Couldn’t they look somewhere else? She was not much to look at, so why were they staring at her? She wanted to spin around and shout at them to stop staring at her! But she didn’t do that, she couldn’t do that. One could have their dreams though, couldn’t they? Actually, she wished that she could just erase this part of town completely so that she wouldn’t have to go through it every single day. With the simmering thoughts filling her head, she didn’t see him. The book fell from her grasp and she quickly crouched to pick it up, avoiding his eyes. ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ He murmured as he handed the book to her ‘in hard copy… an interesting read’ their eyes met and he smiled. She looked away quickly. ‘Th-thanks…’ she stammered. ‘Uh… I have to go…’ she clutched the book to her chest again and rushed off as quickly as possible. ‘Wait…uh… green eyes!’ She looked back ‘You were going in the other direction…’ ‘Oh…’ she slapped her forehead ‘thanks…’ She was sure that she turned scarlet like a boiled crab from embarrassment. This was not the time, or the place to be embarrassed! Especially not the place! She winced mentally and rushed off in the direction he was pointing. ‘Uh… what’s your name?!’ He shouted after her. But she ignored him. It was better to get home and quick! She tucked her short black hair behind her ears. She was nothing to look at, thin and gangly, with short black hair longer at the front than at the back and black make up. Why did he want to know her name? *** She stopped by a sign that had a spoon drawn on it; you couldn’t discern anymore what was on the spoon. She sighed before rounding the corner and heading for the back door. Home sweet home… Quick jog up the flight of stairs, another stained door – at least the hinges were still holding. She let herself in and bolted the door behind her. It wasn’t the place of dreams, but it had a roof that didn’t leak and that was sufficient as far as Jess was concerned. Until of course she could find a way to escape this part of town. They had only 1 bedroom, which was hers. Mom usually brought guests so she stayed in the lounge on the sofa bed. Thankfully for Jess, a corridor run from her bedroom to the toilet and it had a door which could be closed to shut off the lounge and at least make it quieter to sleep. Kitchen was on the other side of the lounge so midnight snacks were usually a no go; not that there were any snacks in the kitchen anyway! She put the kettle on and then went to her bedroom, put the book in the bedside drawer and her bag into the closet, before returning to make a cup of jasmine tea. Just as she was leaving the kitchen she heard knocks on the door downstairs. Great, the girls arrived already, if she didn’t bump into that idiot on the street, she would have been ready for them! She picked up the interphone.
‘Ivy we’re here!’ She rolled her eyes; she should have never shown them her tattoo. ‘Open the door!’ She sighed and hit the release button on the interphone. A dull metallic click sounded as the door catch released and the giggling girls rushed up the stairs. ‘You forgot to close the door!’ she shouted down. The girls rolled their eyes before complying. ‘You are grumpy today Ivy’ they huffed when they reached the top of the stairs. Jess shrugged. ‘Want some tea?’ ‘Why what are you drinking?’ ‘Jasmine’ ‘Ooh namesake! Alright then’ ‘Yeah alright’ ‘You know where it is, help yourselves, I’ll see you inside.’ She turned to go. ‘Jeez you are so rude sometimes’ ‘Agreed’ she muttered but headed off anyway. ‘How’s your mom?’ ‘Probably chatting up another customer downstairs’ ‘The name really suits the place’ ‘Yeah… greasy spoon!’ both of them held their stomachs in laughter. Jess stared. ‘What is with the two of you today? Ate some catnip?!’ They only giggled in laughter and shared mysterious looks. ‘Alright…’ they leaned in close ‘you wouldn’t believe what we saw today!’ ‘What?’ It was hard to keep a disinterested look. ‘Hey Jess! I’m home!’ Amy leaned in closer and quickly whispered in her ear. Her eyes widened. ‘Hey mom!’ she tried to sound normal. They never spoke aloud these things when her mother was in, she didn’t approve of such talk. ‘You two better go’ she whispered. They nodded and followed her out. ‘Hey Mrs. Spoon!’ they said in singsong as they waltzed out of the door. Her mom rolled her eyes. ‘Hey girls! I told you not to call me that! It’s Ladell if you insist!’ ‘Yes Mrs. Spoon’ they disappeared down the stairs giggling. Her mom looked after them for a second before turning to Jess. ‘I really don’t know what it is about these girls…’ ‘I know, I know mum; we were doing homework. How’s everything downstairs?’ ‘Been same all day, hardly any customers. Not many people tend to visit Greasy Spoon’ ‘Perhaps you should change the name’ Jess suggested. Really, whoever had the audacity to give the restaurant such a name must have not been right in the mind. ‘I want to do that Jess, but you know, it costs quite some money to do that, and we’re barely managing to scrape by as it is.’ ‘Yeah, I know…’ ‘And I have to pay for school, these books of yours don’t come out of thin air! I do wish you’d come to help me sometimes!’
‘We talked about this before mum… my part time job on Saturday pays better and I don’t have to scrub plates…’ ‘I wonder why they took you in the first place! You’re not exactly a classical books kind of person!’ This again… why did she have to bring that up every single time! ‘Well they took me, isn’t that good enough for you? Do you want me to spend my life in the Greasy Spoon with you?’ ‘Of course not Jess! Just… I get frustrated sometimes… you know that…’ ‘Yeah…’ ‘Well all right then… I better go back down there. Don’t wait up for me, I’ll be late’ ‘Alright’ she watched her mother’s back as she left and closed the door. Finally, some piece and quiet. The girls did invite her outside but she really didn’t feel like getting drunk tonight, even if it was vodka that they managed to obtain. Jess went to her bedroom and closed the door. She took her book out and opened it in the middle. She stared inside. It was an invitation to the production of Figaro. Figaro? She didn’t like opera! How the hell did that get inside the book? That guy… when she dropped it… it must be! *** ‘Figaro! Sing the notes higher!’ ‘Figaro! Figaro! Figaro! Ahimè, che furia! Ahimè, che folla! Uno alla volta, per carità! Ehi, Figaro! Son qua. Figaro qua, Figaro là, Figaro su, Figaro giù.’ He sang while thinking how much he hated this play and his name! ‘All right… that’s enough for today Figaro. Come down here so we can talk. Everybody else is free. Go on now! See you tomorrow!’ The director waved away a few people that wanted to speak to him while Figaro made his way downstage. ‘Now my boy… we’ll talk about your performance later… what of my daughter? Did you see her? Is she okay? You didn’t tell her anything about me did you? You gave her a note?’ Figaro run a hand through his hair. ‘Yes maestro, I have done as you instructed. I bumped into her while she was walking from school. But she didn’t want to talk, wouldn’t even tell me her name!’ ‘That’s my girl! And she shouldn’t be giving out her name to strangers… there is power in ones name you know! But I do hope that she tells you what to call her soon! She has to fall in love with you!’ ‘Uhh what?? Why?!’
‘Because you have to be close to her in order to protect her! There are powers at work… didn’t I tell you about that already?! Just follow my instructions boy! You don’t want to see the end of the world do you?!’ ‘Well no, but I don’t see how...’ ‘She is the key! And she has to be safe! So you my boy are going to do everything for that! You hear me?! Everything!’ ‘Y…yes maestro’ ‘Besides… she’s not so bad looking is she?’ ‘Well no… she’s very pretty actually’ ‘Yes she is… but if you put one finger on her… I swear I’ll…’ ‘Yes maestro!’ Figaro interrupted quickly ‘I understand maestro!’ ‘That’s my boy’ Maestro smiled ‘Now go on, off with you, and think harder how you are going to achieve what I told you, some things I cannot advise you about. And you better be quick about it boy!’ ‘Yes maestro!’ Figaro hung his head. How was he supposed to make her fall in love with him and yet he was not allowed to fall in love with her either. How was anything the old guy told him possible? But, he was the maestro and the girls’ father, and he, Figaro, had to save the world. So he would do everything to keep her safe. He was going to get transferred to her school the next day, so that should make the task a bit easier.
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