Chapter 1: Unofficial

Ana mused at the thought and shivered at the prospect of her incoming birthday. Lately, she began to fear aging because it meant getting closer to dying, an unnatural paranoia which is not quite unfounded.

She didn’t even remember being 28 years old but somehow the world tricked her and forced the age to come faster, snatching at the years and blurring her twenties.

Now the big 34 loomed in on her, and she realized that she was alone in this big, complex, and natural world.

Solace came through the car stereo. The Gadfly was playing, a film score by Dmitry Shostakovich composed after a book of the same name and a movie. Soft and mellow cello tones flowed out from the stereo, surrounding the car and into the void within her.

Lost inside her own thoughts, Ana filled herself with the composer’s dark melody and imagined a war-torn Russia, at the brink of German capture during World War 2. Shostakovich himself was almost captured by the Gupta when he composed this particular piece as his work were often associated with anti-government sentiments.

The song took Ana lower, deeper, and darker. Into a world that is still quite unknown to her and she began to feel a pang of sadness, not for herself, but for those who did not have a chance against the war.

Her face started to sulk and as she looked to her right, an old man was staring back at her scowling face questioningly. The older man must have already been in his 70s, but still he wore a tie and he seemed to be headed to work. So odd that he is still working despite his obvious age. Ana noticed his luxurious car and guessed that he might be a successful company man. Or perhaps, he might have owned his own company.

The car in front of him on the other hand was polar opposite. It was a late 1990s Toyota Corolla with a pale blue paint that peeled off in patches. The woman driving it appeared to be in her early 30s. Ana couldn’t see what she was wearing as only part of her back was shown. Ana felt strange that she could tell a person’s age even from their backs.

To her right was a newer suv model with a woman in her 40s wearing a sharp suit and impatiently tapping her lacquered nails on the top of the steering wheel. She had a carefully made up face and she looked to also be an office worker. As the suv passed Ana by, she notice a high school soccer team decal. There she was stuck in a time of war-torn Russia waiting for the traffic to move until she can finally reach her destination and all she could think of was, “aren’t soccer moms stay at home moms anyways?”

It is a strange world, isn’t it?
That really bothered Ana as she pulled unto her work building’s driveway and parked her car into one of the compact slots. She took out her make up pouch and reapplied lipstick before she started to gather her things to head inside.

Today was Monday, the Monday that Ana was ready to take on more responsibility. She was just informed the week before of her promotion in the wake of the resignation of the previous manager. A lot of work politics were involved in managing her department and just thinking about it, tiny pools of sweat trickled down her back. Her new staff were a mixture of seasoned veterans who worked years before Ana did and new employees who had just started with her.

Someone was messaging Ana as soon as she arrived at her desk. It was her friend from college Terri, who was inviting her for drinks after work. Ana looked at her phone and read the message,

“Meet tonight at 6?! I’m bringing Josh, the guy I was telling you about! Also his friend might come! You better not back out! I haven’t seen you since last month!”

Terri was one of those who inevitably had to end her sentences with exclamation marks which aptly describes her bubbly, yet strong personality. As expected from her closest friend, a barrage of text messages followed,

“Are you doing ok?!”
“I hope you’re not isolating yourself from the world again, Ana!”
“You know all work and no play makes a dull Ana!”

And on and on she’ll continue unless Ana replies to some of her friend’s concern. With a soft smile she thought of her fondly yet Ana felt like she just saw Terri last week. Did a month really pass by? Her perception of time and exact days were in disarray as she fulfilled work projects either at her desk or at her apartment. Now that she thought of it, she hasn’t seen any of her friends as well as her brother since last month.

Does she really want to go? It’s a monday night! Who goes to the bar on Monday nights?

Ana didn’t have time to debate her decision as her Jabber popped up with a new message on her screen from her boss,

“Do you have 5 minutes?”

The message was from Brandy. Ana knew 5 minutes was really 35 minutes or an hour. Ana, without responding to her friend’s text messages, typed on the message window and replied,

“I’ll be there in a minute”.

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