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This is My Safe Zone, Got It? Chapter 1

This is My Safe Zone, Got It? Chapter 1

By PhoebeWang

Standing in front of the door, Sheree debated whether or not she should knock or just enter. The sign on the door stated the place was closed even though she had received a text to come at this time. Even the lights were off and she couldn’t see anyone inside. Checking her phone once more, she confirmed that the interview was supposed to take place at 3:00 PM and it was already 3:10 PM. Maybe she was being impatient, but she had been waiting for twenty minutes already. Perhaps he had forgotten about it.

Before she could decide on whether or not she should leave, a skeleton ran up to her. She nearly fainted at the sight and barely managed to keep herself upright. At least, she could say that she didn’t scream. She wasn’t sure she would have survived the embarrassment.

“Excuse me, are you Sheree?” How did he know who she was? “I’m Dan, the owner of this establishment.” Oh, that’s why. “Pardon my tardiness. I got held up by personal matters.”

“O-oh, it’s no problem. I didn’t wait that long.”

“Here,” He unlocked the door and kept it open for her. “Come inside.”

“Thank you.”

Stepping inside, she gazed appreciatively as Dan turned on the lights. With only a few tables and chairs, it looked like at most twenty people could fit inside. The cafe was smaller than most she had been to, but it had a homey feeling to it. She felt as if she could go around the place with only sweats and not feel out of place. Then again, considering how Dan was the only worker, it would difficult to handle too many customers.

While she never personally met him in person, people only had nice things to say about him, and how he never portrayed any interest in expanded despite how popular he got. So imagine her surprise when he advertised that he was looking for someone to hire. She had actually heard the job from a classmate who bragged about how great the place was. She never went in before–she wasn’t crazy about coffee–but she could already see why everyone raved about it.

Taking the seat he indicated, she watched as he went behind the corner to make a cup of coffee. Upon his return, she was surprised to see two cups–one in each hand–and more so when he offered her one.

“Take this as my apology.”

“Oh, you don’t have to. Really.”

She already felt bad about not knowing who he was–what kind of potential employee didn’t even know who was hiring her–and for being afraid him just because he was a skeleton. Literal man-eating demons walked the streets in broad daylight. Just because he lacked skin and innards didn’t mean he was a bad or dangerous person. It did bring up an important question of how could he drink the coffee he made. It must be some kind of magic or supernatural thing.

“I insist. It’s on the house.”

“Alright,” she said as she accepted the cup.

Taking a sip, she was surprised to find that it wasn’t bitter. In fact, it tasted of cinnamon and vanilla. If coffee could be this tasty, she would definitely get addicted to it. Savoring another mouthful, she hummed with her eyes closed as her taste buds was assaulted by how delicious the coffee was. Upon reopening her eyes, she froze at the sight of her smiling would be employer. At least she assumed he was smiling. It was hard to tell since it looked like he was smiling all the time.

Hurriedly, she set her cup down and said, “S-sorry.”

“No, go ahead. You should finish your coffee before we get started.”

She lifted the cup to hide her slowly reddening face though it was in vain. Great. Her interview was turning out just great. She could already hear her little sister laughing at her in the background. There’s was absolutely no way she could be allowed to know. Kristi would hold it over her head forever. Honestly, she wondered how she could love that little gremlin so much despite being such a major pain.

Drinking a little bit more, she set down her cup. “I don’t want to take up your time. You have to get ready to open up.”

“You’re not troubling me. I actually had the shop closed just for today.”

Well, that explained why a coffee shop would be closed when it should be bustling with business especially if it was popular one. It was another reason for her to get this interview done as soon as possible. With how things were going, she didn’t think she would pass the interview, but staying silent wasn’t going to help. It would be less painful and less awkward to simply jump right into the interview than continually drinking the coffee hoping for the mood to change.

“I think it’s best we get started.”

“If you insist.”

Was she overstepping her bounds by saying they should go ahead with the interview? After all, he was the boss here. This wasn’t going at all like she was expecting. None of the websites she looked up before this interview said anything on what to do if your interviewer or, in this case, future employer acted, well, not like an interviewer. They all said to be dressed appropriately and leave a good impression which she seemed to fail.

She hadn’t gotten the time or money to buy work clothes for the interview, not that she knew what was acceptable coffee shop clothes. Was there a required uniform, or were they allowed to wear whatever they wanted? If there was a uniform, would her employer provide it, or would she have to order it from somewhere?

Sheree swore she did as much research as she could about the place, but considering the only employee was the boss, there wasn’t much for her to go by. Hence, the reason why she was wearing a simple white t-shirt with a pair of blue jeans. Since he hadn’t commented on her apparel, she assumed that he didn’t mind what she wore. Then again he could be staying silent just to be polite.

Instead of researching the place by the web, she should have simply asked her classmates about the place. The fact they don’t mention the boss was a skeleton was a glaring issue. She would at least be mentally prepared for when she met him. Well, there was no use in crying over spilled milk. All she could do now was to survive the interview with as much dignity she had left.

Dan pulled out her resume as he asked, “So this is your first job, correct?”

“Yes, sir.” Technically, she didn’t have the job yet, but she understood what he was getting at.

“I can see that you’re majoring in accounting. Why not apply for an internship?”

“Er, well, I’m a freshman, sir.”

“That would make it hard to find an internship especially if you have no knowledge or experience in accounting, not to mention the workload which brings us to my next question. Why apply here? There are plenty of other places hiring.”

There it was. The dreaded why did you choose to apply here instead of somewhere else. It was a question that most suggest that should be answered truthfully but also angled to impress the interviewer. Just saying you were looking for a job or needed money was one of the quickest way to get rejected. No one wanted to hire someone who wasn’t going to be loyal to the company.

The problem was she never figured out how she could answer the question. It was clear that her research had left a couple of holes. She couldn’t say because she liked coffee because he might start asking coffee related questions she wouldn’t be able to answer. She also couldn’t say she liked the place when she clearly didn’t even recognize the owner. Lying would be worse than telling the truth.

“This is your first interview, isn’t?”

She snapped out of her thoughts. “H-How did you know?”

“Besides the fact you never had a job before, you seem really nervous over answering a simple question.” He hit the nail on the head. “From your expression, I’m guessing you haven’t thought about what to say besides you’re looking for a job.”

Sheree cringed at having her thoughts being spoken out loud by someone else. Was she really that obvious? Well, whatever slim chance she had at getting the job was definitely gone. She might as well just be honest and get this over with. Nothing she did now could make this experience any more humiliating. All she wanted to do was get home, curl under the sheets, and cry to herself.

“Yes, sir. I’m looking for a job to help pay for my college tuition.”

“Did you not get a student loan?”

“I did, but it’s not enough to cover everything.”

“What about your parents?”

“It’s just me and my little sister.”

She was still salty about her parents. If they had simply died, she could grieve over them except that wasn’t what happened. The moment she had turned 18, they dumped her younger sister on her and left. Without a single word or prior notice, they just upped and left. She didn’t even know why or how to track them. All she knew was that they had been planning to do it for a long time. The paperwork involved had been started back when she was still in high school.

How they managed to give her custody of her sister still boggled her mind. It should be illegal to make a child–and she would gladly admit she was a kid even if she was legally an adult–responsible for caring for another child. The whole situation basically screamed irresponsible parenting, but her parents managed to get away with it scot-free. She didn’t know enough about the law to know how they did it.

They didn’t even have the decency to leave them any money if you excluded her own measly bank account. Even then she wasn’t sure if they had simply forgotten all about it or they couldn’t access the money. She should really look into it. It would be important when she started making money. She should have done it the moment she got the loans, but it hadn’t crossed her mind at the time.

At least she had Terri on her side. She didn’t deserve to have such a good friend who was willing to have them at her house because surprise surprise they didn’t have a house to live in either. In exchange, she helped out around the house. It was the least she could do considering they were letting them live there and provided them with meals. They even taught her how to cook. Sort of. Her food was edible if she started from scratch.

If she ever found her parents, she was going to punch the living daylights out of them. Well, she couldn’t really do that. She didn’t have the arm strength to do it despite how much exercise she got done. Maybe Terri would be willing to punch them for her. She ranted just as much as she did about what she would do to them for abandoning the two of them. God, she really didn’t deserve her.

Then she realized how she must sound to Dan. “You can ignore everything I just said. It’s not important.”

He frowned or at least she thought he was frowning. She really needed some way to determine his expressions. For all she could know, he was actually laughing at her for all her screw-ups or sneering at her in disgust for wasting his time. There had to be some kind of manual for reading a skeleton’s expressions. On the other hand, it wasn’t like she would see him again after this.

“I don’t see a transcript. How are your grades?”

She didn’t remember seeing a transcript being required for applying. “I’m passing all my classes.”

“By passing, do you mean barely passing or as one of the top students passing?”

“Neither. I’m average.”

Now wasn’t that weird to say. Some people including herself typically thought of being average as just passing a little above the minimum which wasn’t her, but she wasn’t on the top of her classes either. Why was he asking her about how well she was doing in school? It had nothing to do with working at a coffee shop, and it wasn’t like he planned on hiring her, right?

“You’re hired.”

“Wait, what?”

“I said you’re hired.”

“B-but why?”

He cocked his head to the side. “You don’t want to be hired?”

“I d-do, but, well, this wasn’t at all what I was expecting.”

Seriously, this didn’t go at all like she read online. After she messed up, she had expected him to kick her out or make it known that he wasn’t interested in hiring. Not that she had a problem about being hired. It was honestly a relief to find a job. She hadn’t wanted to go through the same process over again, but it didn’t make her any less confused. Why was he hiring her?

“Follow me. Let me show you around.”

Numbly, she got out of her seat and trailed after him to behind the counter. Her eyes scanned the various items lining the walls and displays. She kept an open ear as he pointed out the products and equipment. Most looked simple to use. How hard could it be to use a coffee machine? She soon found out when he asked her to try making a simple cup of coffee. The less said about the experience, the better.

“Have you ever made coffee before?”

She kept her burning face downturned as her eyes remained fixated on his shoes. The entire counter was covered in what could barely qualify as coffee. How was she supposed to know the button she was about to press would cause the coffee beans and hot water to spew everywhere? The only good thing was neither of them had been hit. Otherwise, they might have gotten burned. Well, she would, but she wasn’t sure if skeletons would feel the pain.

“No, sir.”

“You don’t have to call me sir. Just call me Dan.”

“Yes, sir, Dan, sir.”

“Don’t worry. We have all day for you to learn. You don’t have anywhere you need to be, do you?”

“No, sir?”

It was the weekend, and she luckily managed to avoid any weekend classes. Others hadn’t been so fortunate. She didn’t have any homework she needed to get done either. Her sister was currently hanging out with Terri so she didn’t have to worry about her. Terri’s parents didn’t mention needing her to run any errands. There was pretty much nothing she needed to get done right away.

“Good,” he said as he rolled up his sleeves. “Then let’s get started.”

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1 Sep, 2019
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