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Tony's Change of Heart

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"Just a sec, mom!" My groggy eyes crack open. They glance toward my digital alarm clock. 5:45 AM. Why am I supposed to be awake right now? Oh yeah, the grand opening of the first office I will ever work at. I didn’t know exactly who owned the office, but they were really famous, I knew that.


Since I don’t want make a bad first impression, I shuffle to the kitchen for breakfast. I grabbed my black hipster glasses, which made sure I didn't waltz ungracefully into a wall. My unkempt room deters my route to breakfast. Stacks of half-read lab reports cover my desk, and clothes litter the floor.


I am a freshly graduated college student of 21 years. My degrees are in quantum physics, mechanical engineering, and biophysics. It's unusual that a woman can graduate from college so young, but I am a certifiable genius, although I don't broadcast that fact often. I got this job offer straight out of school because of my intelligence level.


But yeah, my mom still lets me live with her. At least I don't have to pay rent, right? She still treats me like a kid, which is a nice thing sometimes. The only (slight) downside to living with my mom is that my younger sisters do too.


Lola is 8, and a more cheerful, bubbly girl couldn't be found anywhere. The trouble is, she tries to make my day by using my printer paper to draw me pictures of things I like. Most of the time, the drawing is a poor sketch of one of the Avengers. This results in me practicing my deep breathing exercises in order to not chase Lola down. At least my Zen teacher is happy that I get my daily relaxing practice. The cool thing about my Zen classes is that they are overseen sometimes by the ultimate master of inner peace: Iron Fist! (If you couldn't tell already, I am infatuated with all things supernatural and superhero.)


Melissa is 13 and entering a gothic phase. Her entire wardrobe is black, and she paints her face a ghostly white with dark touches here and there. Her clique dresses similarly. In order to act "cool" they don't eat during lunch and just hang out. But don't let that mindset fool you; Melissa is the top of her class and helps tutor elementary schoolers.


As usual, my mom is bustling around the kitchen, fixing breakfast and lunch for all three of us. She is already in her Starbucks uniform: khaki shorts, a white polo, and a matching set of a green cap and apron embroidered with the Starbucks logo. Her long (h/c) hair is tied back. She is the sole source of income for the household, which means she works double shifts for every job in the shop. Cashier, janitor, even the manager for a short while. "Breakfast, sweetie?"


"You know me," I respond. A few moments later, she slides over a plate of pancakes heaped with my favorite berries and whipped cream (sorry if you don't like this food). Carefully, I wrap up my pancake into a burrito, with the sweet stuff on the inside.


"Well, I have to go to work early," Mom says. You always do... "And Lola is walking to school with Melissa today so you can be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for your first day at the office!" She gave me a smile and then pointed in the direction of my room. "Chop chop! Eat your food then go get yourself dressed! If you want, I can curl your hair, but you'd better get ready quick!"


Gulping down my breakfast burrito in two bites, I silently run down the hallway to my room. Snores echoed out of two bedrooms adjacent to the hall. I did not want to wake up Melissa and Lola earlier than they had to.


After pawing through my wardrobe to find my most comfortable bra and underwear, I pick up my business suit. The new black pantsuit is form-fitting and isn't entirely uncomfortable. A white blouse accompanies the suit.


I enter the bathroom as a sleep-deprived zombie, but within 5 minutes, I exit as a glamourous, chic business woman. A silver pendant necklace accents my outfit, along with a spritz of fruity perfume, faint pink lip gloss, and a pair of black pumps. I don't believe in excess makeup: it's too much work to put on and take off, plus it hides people's inner beauty with glorified face paint. I studied the mirror. Adjusted my hipster glasses. Not too shabby.


Mom came in a second later armed with a barrage of hair care products, prepared to style my (h/l) (h/c) hair into a mass of curls around my head. While she applied hairspray and twisted my locks, I checked my fanfiction ratings on my iPhone. Even though I needed to get a lot of sleep last night, I had hurriedly posted a new chapter to my fanfiction of the Avengers. There were already 17 comments that I hadn't read yet. But based on previous responses, I expected them to be positive.


"That should do it," Mom said after the last application of hairspray. I stood up and hugged her.


"Thanks," I said.




I walked to my compact silver car, which I affectionately call Ace. I pull my key ring from my navy blue pocketbook to unlock Ace. The lock clicks as I turn the key. A couple cardboard boxes full of my office supplies are in the front passenger seat, ready to go. I'm sure Staples had a big payday after Mom and I came through.


Pulling out into the morning traffic of any city is quite a task, but more so when the city is New York. The herds of vehicles here are brain-dead and conform to the painted lines along the pavement. Thankfully, there is a kind soul in this mindless herd that lets me slide onto the road.


After around 30 minutes of driving on a trip that should have only taken 10 according to Siri (curse you Siri!), I drive into the parking garage. The parking garage that's almost filled to capacity. Crap.




Many minutes later, I'm speed walking down the many flights of stairs to get to the sidewalk. The stupid elevator was broken down, so I'm freaking out a little. Ace is parked on the top floor, and even for such an out-of-the-way parking spot, I had to fight a mini van for it. I'm glad I brought a pair of cheap flip flops to wear in case the heels got too uncomfortable or inconvenient. My pumps are held in one hand and my pocketbook in the other.


Once I reach the ground floor, I make a quick switch of my shoes before hurriedly walking toward the large crowd gathered around the opening of a large building. Looking up for any indication of why there was a crowd around this building, you suddenly remembered the name of your new office and this building.


They were one and the same: Stark Industry Offices.