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New Job, New Hope

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She wakes at her usual time for early morning prayers, tapping her phone alarm off with her finger tip. The City is already buzzing outside with car horns and delivery trucks speeding by on their way to whatever destination Monday has assigned for them. Adena has left her big window opened all night long to cool off her new 3rd floor studio apartment in Brooklyn. The studio is small but quaint. It is situated at the east corner of an older building, above a used bookstore. Adena likes the location for the morning sun it receives. The landlords are a sweet, older Australian couple who have already taken Adena under their wing. She bought a new mattress, a used dresser, tall lamp, and pedestal fan. Some of her New York art friends donated needed kitchen items. Her kind friend and studio manager, Firuze, had her husband and adult son bring over a plush, red velvet couch, two book shelves, and a desk from her basement that she didn’t use. A few days ago, Paris friend Odette shipped six boxes from Paris to Adena. Inside are some possessions and clothing Adena left overseas. The rest of Adena’s Paris apartment contents will remain in place, as she has subleased her place to an up and coming Iranian artist named Atefeh. When the boxes arrive, Adena will have the last of her things to make her new pad feel cozy and intimate. Large photo prints from her last gallery showing already hang on the walls. Others are stored in her walk-in closet, for now. Adena peers over to the open window. The street noise fills the small studio with the sounds of life and bustle, and her tall fan whirrs in the corner.

 

She sits up, stretches and pulls the sheets away from her legs, yawning as she steps on the cool wooden floor. After prayers, she prepares coffee in the French Press and pours herself a hefty cup. She’ll need it today more than ever to get through her first morning as a new employee of Scarlet. Being offered the recently vacated position of in-house photographer is a dream come true for Adena, for any photographer. But as she sips the last of the bitter coffee, she can’t help but feel a bit hesitant about taking the position. ‘I can’t jump back into a relationship with you. I have to find myself again.’ Those were some of Kat’s last words to her two weeks ago, and they are still tender and fresh in her mind. Adena probably wouldn’t have taken the job at Scarlet if she had known what was going through Kat’s head. She’s pretty sure she would have just returned to Paris defeated & heartbroken again. But now here she sits, elbows firmly placed in front of her, eyes staring down at her kitchen counter, with both hands in her hair, shaking her head and letting out a slow breathe.

 

Stripping naked, she jumps in a warm shower, letting the soothing water envelop her whole being as she closes her eyes and daydreams about all the magazine issues that will showcase her photography, and of how proud her mother and sister were when she Face Timed two nights ago and told them the news of landing the prestigious position.  But, her eyes quickly shoot open at the thought of bumping into Kat somewhere in the Safford building, and her shoulders slump under the shower stream. Adena really doesn’t know what she’ll exactly say to Kat when that happens, or how they both will react. She plans instead to take it one day at a time and see what happens. The best she can hope for at this point is for their relationship to remain amicable. Although deep down inside, if she’s really honest with herself, Adena really hopes Kat has a change of heart and they are able to date again. But she doesn’t know how long this will take, or even if it will ever come to fruition. If not, will there ever be another woman in Kat’s life or hers? Will she return to Paris and Greta, the musician who tried to steal her love away from Kat? Her heart feels heavy as she whispers aloud in the shower, “You are my one and only true love, Kat. Why can’t you let me in!” She realizes tears begin streaming down her cheeks and intermingle with the shower water. She closes her eyes again and says a quiet prayer for strength, for love, for that beautiful complex soul, Kat Edison, who has her heart clutched in her hands, and for a good first day at Scarlet.

 

Dressed in a burgundy hijab, flowery blazer, black tank top, and black high waisted skinny jeans, Adena walks to the nearest subway station and rides the train headed towards Manhattan. It’s early and there are plenty of open seats. Adena grabs an empty one in the left corner of the last row, closes her eyes, and begins to daydream again. She remembers texting Kat the day after she lost the election. ‘Been thinking of you. Anything I can do to help?’ Kat quickly replied, ‘Are you home right now? Can I come over?’ The last thing Adena expected that late morning was Kat passionately kissing her after entering her pad. The desire was overwhelming. Adena’s brain was in a haze, heart pounding, and she couldn’t stop herself. Next thing she knew, they were both panting and getting naked, Kat pressing her body hard into the glass wall. Greedy hands grabbing at soft skin, exposed breasts, warm lips crashing together. One thing lead to another and Adena had Kat pinned against the kitchen island groping for support, naked and gorgeous. ‘I missed you.’ Adena confessed in the heat of the moment, as she kissed down Kat’s chest. ‘I missed you, too.’ Kat replied in a raspy voice. Adena went down on her knees and Kat came fast, legs shaking, seeing stars behind her closed eyelids, screaming Adena’s name after gasping for air. Kat was the drug Adena needed stat! Both were insatiable and knew what they wanted and needed from each other. Kat was happy to return the favor and pushed Adena against the fridge, stripping her of her underwear. With clenched eyes and mouth agape, Adena clutched at the appliance as Kat showed no mercy. Eventually they ended up in Adena’s bed, both naked, wet, clits throbbing. Kat’s braids were strewn all over the pillow and some of Adena’s hair was stuck to her clammy forehead. The lovers were lazily kissing, tasting themselves on each other’s lips. Both were still in ecstasy. ‘Shit, I have to go to this stupid fashion show! But, can you come over to my place tonight after 10?’ Kat’s invitation was desperate as she begged with those piercing, beautiful eyes.  The carnal desire Adena felt for Kat at that moment was unbearable and uncontrollable. Kat had her in a trance. ‘Yes, yes I’ll be there, Kat!’

 

Adena came back to reality as the train breaks screeched loudly and the subway station came into view. This is the nearest Manhattan subway stop to Scarlet and Adena got off the train, walking the rest of the way to work. She’s early enough that she can stroll at a leisurely pace and enjoy the morning weather. She watches other commuters speed by her as she smells the fresh coffee aroma coming from local diners she passes.

 

Finally reaching her destination, she enters the lobby of the Safford building, walking confidently towards the elevators. Distractedly looking in her purse for a handwritten note with the hiring officer’s name, she doesn’t see Oliver inside the open elevator holding the door for her.

“Well, if it isn’t Ms. El Amin, photographer savant. What a victory for Scarlet. I am especially looking forward to working with you on our upcoming Fall fashion spread.”

“Oh, thank you so much Oliver! The pleasure is also mine.” Adena laughs and rushes into the elevator. “I’m headed to the 48th floor to see Human Resources,” she says as Oliver presses the button for her.

 

“Well then, I’ll have HR contact us when you’re all done filling paperwork so Sutton can escort you to the Scarlet photo studio on the 35th floor.” Oliver grins and nods his head. The elevator dings and stops on the 40th floor and Oliver exits.

 

 “Okay, see you later Oliver.” Adena cheerfully says as the doors close again, continuing on to her destination.

The elevator doors reopen on the 48th floor. As she exits, Adena’s immediately greeted warmly.

 

 “Good morning, welcome to Human Resources. I’m Oshie, and you must be Ms. El Amin, our new photographer!”

 

Adena enters the glamorous lobby area housing H.R. “Yes, how did you know? Good morning, Oshie, I’m Adena here to sign newhire paperwork.”

 

Pointing behind Adena, the young receptionist continues. “Let me introduce you to Ms. Lilly Gomez who is our other newhire for today.”

 

Adena turns and notices an attractive, young woman wearing a gray pantsuit, lime colored blouse, black pumps, and sporting a spiked red hairdo. She’s sitting on a loveseat with her iPad. Lilly looks up at Adena and they both softly smile in greetings.

 

“Theresa Greene, the HR Manager, will be with you both shortly. Would either of you like a cup of coffee, tea, or water while you wait?” Oshie offers kindly.

 

“I’m good, but thank you.” Adena replies, sitting in a big navy chair next to Lilly.

 

“I’m also fine, but thanks.” Lilly states as she lowers her iPad and smiles at both the receptionist and Adena.

 

“Hi, Amena?” Lilly extends her right hand towards the photographer. Earlier, before Adena arrived, Lilly had overheard two HR employees talking about the “Muslim lesbian photographer” starting work at Scarlet. She was happy to see the photographer was very attractive and young.

 “Adena, Adena El Amin.” Adena corrects Lilly.

“Oh, so sorry. I’m a bit nervous this morning. I’m Lilly Gomez.”


 Adena smiles, “Is okay, I know how you feel. Where will you be working at Scarlet, Lilly?”

 

“Oh, I’m actually working in the Legal Department with Richard Hunter and Beth Pomona. I’m the new Contract Attorney the Board hired. Just moved here from D.C. and looking to start anew. Lilly says factually. “And, you?”

“I’m the new Scarlet in-house Photographer. I’ve actually done some ad hoc photo shoots for the magazine in the past, but now they’ve offered me a permanent, full time position.”

Theresa soon comes out and greets both ladies, taking them into a small conference room just beyond the receptionist. The newhires spend the next three hours completing necessary forms and watching a lengthy video on Safford policies, practices, and employee requirements and expectations. Needless to say, both girls are drained after HR is through with them.

They’re asked to wait in the HR lobby to be escorted to their respective departments when Lilly suggests exchanging cellphone numbers and grabbing a coffee later in the week. Adena concedes. Lilly also mentions going to Sammi’s, a newly opened lesbian bar, with her two college friends after work tonight. Adena hums and listens to Lilly tell her about her two New York friends whom she met during her undergrad in Chicago. They are now married to each other and were the ones that encouraged her to move from D.C. to New York City. Lilly also mentions how she just came off of a two year relationship with a woman and was happy to start a new job in a new city, eager to meet new people and see new places.

The elevator door opens and Sutton is there to take Adena down to see Oliver.

 

“Well, I’ll be in touch, Adena. Have a great day!” Lilly waves at Adena.

 

“Okay Lilly, you enjoy your first day, too.”

 

Sutton smiles and looks at each lady as the elevator doors close.