Never Leave Your Job
“Never Leave Your Job” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Shreya Srivastava, Girl’s High School and College, India.
Never Leave Your Job
The phone buzzed with such sharpness that it was quite enough to hurt Amber’s ears. She rolled to one side of her bed and swung her hands loosely on the table in search of it.
She gazed at it. It was her dad’s message. Excitedly, she sat up. It read- I know you’re sleeping, my child… I’ve boarded the flight from Ottawa to New York…I reckon I’ll be there in one hour to meet my sweetheart…and…H. B.Day! Wanna something…?
No… just you- Amber texted back truthfully.
She hadn’t met her father since the last month. It had been difficult to skip work because her job didn’t allow her to do so for she was presently earning as an anchor at ‘Daily Bulletin’ channel.
Amber grappled back to her mattress, pulling it up to her nose. It was the cold twist of weather which was baking her insides.
An hour later, Amber’s phone screeched its head off.
She immediately got up, thinking it to be her dad’s call. But her smile faded as her eyes read the screen; it was her boss’ call.
She picked it up. But before could she speak, the voice from the other side spoke hastily, “Amber! The camera’s all set… …”
“Sir, sir…why such haste…you sound to be brimming till top…?” Amber asked, taken aback by her boss’ demeanor.
“Exclusive news, Amber… A crashed plane… I want this piece to be reported at my channel first. There’s no anchor here… I thought you wouldn’t mind heading such early…”
“Which plane, sir?” Amber questioned, getting off bed and dressing at top speed.
“Crashed horribly…From Ottawa…to New York. ………” But whatever else her boss informed didn’t fall at Amber’s ears for she stood aghast with her phone dropped.
A face revolved infront of her eyes. Long nose, wrinkled cheeks, fluffy hair- her father’s face. And those big, blue eyes- Amber’s eyes- she had got them from her father.
“…are you on the line…” asked the voice which broke Amber’s musing. With trembling hands she picked up the phone and stammered, “What…what…how are… p…p…passengers…”
“…All dead…” informed her boss’ voice. This information sucked out the left colour in Amber’s face.“…You coming......Why aren’t you replying?”
“Uh….uh…,” she said with immense effort, “…yep…yep…”
And the line went dead.
Amber didn’t cry- the news was such a sudden shock to her that she couldn’t believe it.
Unexpectedly, she smirked. “I…I…should wait for Dad’s call…my boos’ a f…fool…”
Without caring a single bit for her attire, she drove off with her car speedily.
There was not much traffic as fog blurred the vision.
“He is fine…obviously,” she murmured in an undertone, smiling weakly.
Suddenly, a peculiar sort of coldness ran through her nerves. What if he’s really dead- this thought struck her miserably. She couldn’t help inhaling deeply; it was too much for her to believe.
She stared absent mindedly down at the brake of her car. Why not stop forever…After all, who was there in her life… being a motherless child from her infancy, her dad was the only one meant to her. But now, he too……
A tear trickled down, imprinting her cheek. The news can be wrong…perhaps, it’s just a careless misunderstanding. But didn’t the tear mean that her innersole had accepted this bitter fact.
In this turbulence, she got off the car. She spotted a sole and lonely bench placed on the other side of the road which attracted her like a magnet. While crossing, she didn’t care to look right or left. She purposely waited on the middle of the road, staring in a hollow way at the bench, wanting a vehicle to run her down.
Amber heaved on the bench and wept…she cried like no one else…she wailed…she shrieked; she wanted to run away but her legs didn’t possess the courage to lift her up.
“Why do you cry, my child?” said a cozy voice from beside her.
She turned her head. Long nose, wrinkled cheeks, fluffy hair- her father.
She blinked and stared. But she was in no state to consider rationally that what her father was doing there. Without thinking twice she hugged him tightly.
“You…are…dead, dad, ar…aren’t you?” she cried hoarsely.
“Yep,” he replied coolly, “but physically…dear… remember…I live in you…you are my blood…”
“Why did you leave me…” she cried in turmoil.
“Fate, child…and don’t you cry…don’t force me to chide you…wipe these salty drops of yours, be brave…” he reflected sarcastically.
“Huh…I am an orphan now, Pa,” she said looking deep into his sea-blue eyes.
“Accept it and don’t pity,” he advised, “when your mother was at her death bed, she said her last words……make Amber so strong that she never cries… teach her that whatever the consequences are, she should do her job……”
Suddenly, a gale of thick fog swept between Amber and her father and when she gazed up, he was nowhere to be seen.
It’s better to do it…Suicide…she thought getting up. But then wouldn’t this world remember me for my cowardice…I am not weak... I am a strong daughter. Then a thought shivered in her mind-why not bang the car in a lamp-post…fog is thick… … everyone will take it as an accident. But soon her father’s words echoed in her ears.
She reached her office. Her boss saw her come. He jumped up. “Amber…makeup…why ’re you so dazed? Here, makeup…” he was saying when Amber interrupted.
“Sire,” she hissed, “my father was in that flight…”
Her boss stared at her. “That… … flight,” he stammered. Amber nodded stiffly.
“How…did you come…till here…” he asked horrified, “you go back, dear. I’ll manage another anchor.”
“But you called me,” she said, looking fixedly.
“Yes, Amber…but you are in a state……here, Mark…call Susie and tell her to come…”
“But I didn’t refuse to do the job, sire,” Amber announced boldly. “I am the blood of my father… I’m Amber Dew…I’ll do it...”
The camera lights beamed upon her. News flashed. She read out, with utmost bravery as the others, including her boss, stared at her in awe, “G. M. folks. I am Amber Dew, who hereby report you the latest, exclusive yet thoroughly saddening news… …
“… …and in the passengers are listed- Barker, Lucy- 34… Dew, Thomas-59…
“… …keep watching…we’ll be in a minute.”
The camera-lights went off.
Silence prevailed. Only Amber’s heavy breathing was audible. But, this sound was swallowed in the loud buzz of plaudits. Everyone stood up as Amber kneeled down. Everyone applauded while Amber cried. Everyone was stunned by the emotional strength which this daughter held…and Amber was gloomily happy: gloomy for a big loss; happy for she had followed her father’s words.