I awoke feeling groggy, but I managed to get out of my bed on the first song, despite knowing my poor bed would feel quite lonely without my company. The navy blue sheets seemed saddened as I gave them one last look of longing before sitting at my desk. Luckily, I only had a few new requests for my services, since I hadn’t responded to all of the old ones yet. I planned to catch up on work and improve my sorting automation on Sunday, since I didn’t have a request for that day yet. I replied to some of the requests for early next week, and then prepared for school. My parents were pleased to see me at breakfast, though mother didn’t have enough food cooked.
“What do you have planned today, James?” Mother was preparing more batter for pancakes, knowing that I easily ate six or more. “Well, umm… I’m driving a kid around for her parent.” I had managed to keep the word “babysitting” out of my head ever since I accepted the contract, but now it entered my mind without consent. For just a second, my appetite diminished. Then the smell of fresh, apple cinnamon pancakes reached my nose, causing an audible rumble to escape my stomach. I was holding my plate next to the pan before the first one was even done cooking. Mother gave me a reproachful look that was ruined by the smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. “Apology accepted,” I declared as I sat down. Father looked up from the book he was reading. “Apology?” I smiled and replied, “Yeah. I’m blaming the babysitting job on mother, since she suggested that I list that as a skill.”
Father chuckled and resumed eating and reading as mother’s stern look almost became believable for a second. “I was just helping you to get clients, which obviously worked.” The pancakes were so delicious that I became too immersed in eating for further conversation. After eating my eighth one, I was reasonably full. Mother took my plate away as I blissfully enjoyed the fact I had a warm breakfast. She then placed a small package in front of me which was wrapped in red, shiny paper and had a golden bow. “I’m not complaining at all, but is there a new holiday today?” Mother smiled and rested her hand on father’s shoulder who looked at me with a smile of his own before speaking. “Well, son, we’re proud of you. You’ve really been working hard and we want to encourage you. This is just a little something your mother and I thought would help you.”
I removed the bow and carefully unwrapped the paper, being careful not to tear it. Having succeeded, I crumpled the paper and tossed it into the trash before looking at what I revealed. I opened the small, wooden box which the paper had concealed to find a silver case with embossed scroll work and my initials in the center. Inside there were high-quality business cards with my information and the company logo Regina made. I gaped for several seconds before father coughed in a poor attempt to conceal a chuckle. “These are amazing!!! Thank you so much. I love this case too.” I hugged them both as mother told me they had ordered a thousand cards. Any past that I would have to buy for myself.
I glided along the sidewalk, riding clouds of bliss despite heading to school. A sudden pain in my shoulder told me I was at Jarod’s house. “Hey, man! I was beginning to wonder if I‘d ever see you before school again.” I laughed, replying, “I haven’t been working that long yet. Checkout what my parents got me though!” I pulled forth the case with a flourish and opened it grandly before him. He took a card and pretended to inspect it critically. “So THIS is how people get a hold of you these days. I see…” I punched his arm. “Not everyone gets to work on cars with their father.” He smiled ironically as he replied, “Oh yeah.. some people just make businesses out of thin air even though their fathers own hotels. Such a tough life. ‘Here is my card, sir, if ever you need my services.’” He affected a snobbish air while handing my card back, and snatched it again saying he may need to reach me sometime.
“Oh yes. I’m sure you’d love to babysit for a family instead of working on cars.” He stopped in his tracks and started laughing. “Your job sucks, man!” I sighed and kept walking. My phone buzzed in my pocket after a few steps. Jarod caught up and asked, “Someone needing a good friend to change their kid’s diaper now?” I stared at my phone in shock for a second. I had a text from a number I didn’t know:
Hey, James. Gramps says I should kick your butt at video games. When u free? -Emma
“That’s a best friend, and I get a date.” Jarod looked at my phone. “Nah. She just wants to get you in her room to play games.” I elbowed his gut, causing his chuckle to include a slight cough. Then I responded, telling her that I was free Sunday. I stared at my phone as we walked the rest of the way to school, waiting for that next text. I was still staring a while later when I nearly walked into Regina on my way to homeroom. “Business,” she asked as she smiled at me. Apparently, she wasn’t still mad at me. “Oh! Check these out!” I slid my phone into my pocket and showed her my business cards and case. “Look at you now, my professional gentleman.” Her emphasis on “my” troubled me. “My parents bought them for me. Great, aren’t they? That portrait you made really looks catchy on a card.”
Regina smiled and informed me that I still owed her for that. “Is Prom still available for our date? I want the whole day.” Day? The dance was at night. “Well..” My phone buzzed again, so I pulled it out and took a look. Emma was free Sunday! “You’re looking rather pleased with yourself.” Something was off. Her voice sounded… Oh no. She was reading my phone upside down. Before I got another word out, Regina was walking off. The few people not yet in homeroom were looking at me and whispering. I hurried onward after telling Emma that I would text her after school.
“After school” became “between periods” as she quizzed me about what games I played, movies I watched, and other such things. Jarod was happy for me and showing it in his own way, jokes that got me blushing more often than not. I turned off the vibrate on my phone for third period. Regina seemed distracted in class and was doing something on her phone even during the lecture. As soon as we parted ways, I was back to texting Emma. The girl really seemed to know her stuff and claimed to like many of the things I did. Sunday could prove to be a very interesting day if she was this cool in person. The things Jarod said to me about the girls who had been interested in me went through my head more and more as the day progressed. Even if Regina was that cruel, I couldn’t think of a way she could find Emma. What was she doing on her phone though?
I had arranged to miss practice today, much to coach’s chagrin with a big meet next week. Emma called me not long after school was out. Her voice reminded me of a pixie just as much as her picture had. There was such a playful sound to the tones. We arranged for me to meet at her place before lunch. Then we were to walk to a nearby theater, watch a movie, and pickup some pizza on the way back. She said she had to “school me at video games” so Tim, “gramps” as she called him, wouldn’t tease her too bad. I arrived home all too swiftly and didn’t honestly want to get off the phone yet. I told Emma that I’d send her a text when I could, and freshened up a bit before heading to the station to catch my train to the right suburb.