My name is Naira Ayad, Lieutenant General of the western Special Counter Unit’s assault division. If you were looking for a love story, you came to the wrong place, and I recommend you look somewhere else. This story is a lesson on trust, how valuable it is, and just how costly the price of betrayal can be.
If I’d just killed him when I first met him, if I had warned her just in time, how many lives would I have saved? How much heartache could have been prevented? Goddamn… my head’s spinning, I don't have much time left so I’ll wrap this up.
I’m plunging headfirst out of a plane, looking at what was once my beautiful home, now ravaged by war and chaos. I am falling, landing feet first into what I am sure will be certain death, it doesn’t matter anymore though, the only thing that matters now is revenge. I have been longing to feel the last breaths of the man I once loved. I want him to beg for mercy as my blood-stained hands wrap around his throat. I will smile knowing there’s none to spare. Only then will I be able to die a happy woman.
I suggest you not get very attached to me, because, at the end of this story, I will be long dead.
As Naira lays on her bed, she looks over to scan her cluttered bedroom, clothes are strewn about on the floor and dirty dishes occupy her dressers. She rolls her eyes at the thought of cleaning up and buries herself deeper in her oversized sweater and large pink comforter. She stares despondently at her TV, the brightly colored cartoons reflecting on her golden brown iris. While gathering the will to get up and prepare for work, she thinks to herself “It’s been days since I’ve had a meal that’s actually filled me up, but it’s not like I’ve even been hungry lately. Man, this shitty job doesn’t even pay enough for me to buy some shit that could cheer me up. They're lucky I’m just too lazy to find a new one… they're lucky I don't quit right now and enjoy my damn weekend. Yeah, I’d be all like ‘No I ain't fired I quit! Oh and by the way you’re fired boom Ms. Claridge how you like those apples!’ yeah something cool like that,” She grins slightly and shakes the thought out, rubbing her face with both palms while standing up.
Suddenly, she hears a commotion and several loud footsteps. Five loud bangs on her bedroom door snatch her out of her thoughts; her heart skips a beat. Naira immediately grabs a pair of scissors from her untidy dresser, knocking over several empty water bottles in the process. “You seriously couldn’t have picked a poorer person to rob,” She mutters to herself as she heads toward the door. She yanks it open whilst raising her makeshift weapon.
Towering in front of her stood Cole in a navy blue turtleneck and matching trousers. Naira looks into his cat-like eyes, colored like precious pearls, and notices he’s visibly upset. His silvery hair hangs loosely over his shoulders as he studies her back. Naira looks down and sees two bags in his pale hands.
“Stab me, and you starve. It smells like depression in here,” Cole says, closing his eyes while raising his eyebrows with an expression of disgust. He pushes past her and opens her window. Naira lazily climbs onto her bed, throwing the pair of scissors on the floor nonchalantly, and scrolls through her phone looking for an excuse not to meet his gaze. Cole walks over carefully navigating through the clutter that decorates the ground. Successfully reaching her he lifts her chin with his cold hand and stares into her apathetic eyes. “Look here, Buffy. Just because you’re too proud to admit you’re going through a tough time right now doesn’t mean you can ignore my calls. We’ve been worried,” he says, straightforwardly with a tinge of concern. “You need to eat something, you're losing weight, I can see it. There’s some food and money in those bags, that should be enough to get you through the month. You need to find a rebound quick because you stink,” he says looking at Naira with a judging expression and raised eyebrow as he sits on the edge of her bed.
Naira gazes at the bags, then back at him, expressionless. “Thanks, but I'm not gonna be looking for anything right now. I dumped him for a reason, I've gotta start focusing on me” she replies bristly.
There was a pause, which felt like helpless tension in the air for both.
“Where's Randy? Back at your place?” Naira asks, hoping to change the subject.
“No, he’s out there talking to Emory. If you’d answered your phone, she wouldn’t have had to jump out of the shower to let us in,” Cole says, evidently annoyed. Naira scratches her head, returning an awkward smile.
Cole steps back toward the door. “Well, are you gonna see us out, or is Emory doing that too?” he asks impatiently. “Come on, Randy and I have been up since 8 am! We need to watch the ‘3 streetz’ documentary, you’re holding us up.”
“Oh, shut up! You’re such a drama queen. Their music’s trash anyways,” Naira says while laughing and slipping on her sandals.
“The one and only,” Cole answers sassily while adjusting the imaginary crown on his head, winking at his friend.
As they walk out of the room, Naira gives Cole and Randy one last hug before seeing them out. Emory comes out of the bathroom, steam billows out behind her and rises from her skin and water rolls down her incredibly toned and exposed body. She looks down the hall at Naira who’s gotten used to seeing her friend in all her glory. Emory dries her hair with a concerned expression. “Hey sunshine, you’re done hibernating already? You do know you can always help yourself to whatever’s in the fridge, right?”
“Yeah, I've been really sleepy. And I know… I just don’t wanna be ‘that’ person. Thanks though” Naira gives an awkward grin while returning to her room. Emory shrugs at her friend’s reply and walks back into the bathroom.
Naira moved out of her parent’s house for college four years ago. They did not leave off on the best terms. She thought independent living would be just what she needed, but she hadn’t found any luck yet. College and work hadn’t been pairing up the way she’d initially planned it to. And her job has been cutting hours, but she’d rather starve than ask for a handout even when she annihilates her monthly food stipend in the span of a week, which happens quite frequently.
She has yet to find her purpose in life and has recently felt more phantom than person. She thought she’d be able to find that purpose upon graduating university, but time is ticking and she hasn’t the slightest clue of what she wants to do. A bachelor's in Chemical Engineering has lost the allure it once held and Naira hasn't been too eager to jump into the field just yet.
In tears, she scrolls through Flitter, cackling at the latest memes, Trying her best to hold in her laughs before inevitably erupting in a fit of laughter much to the dismay of her already exhausted coworkers. The fluorescent lightbulbs of the break room flicker and the hum of the soda machine is maddening; it's a depressing sight. Workers drowsily sip from cups of coffee whilst trying to keep their heads up.
Oblivious to her coworkers' vitriolic stares, Naira continues to scroll without a care in the world, she would not waste a second of her break.
A man walks into the break room and slams his walkie-talkie down in front of Naira, startling her. “We could've used some help over on the registers,” he says with a menacing expression.
“Oh yeah my bad, I was on break. Is self-checkout broken or something?” Naira defends herself calmly as she looks up from her phone.
“You've been on break for like an hour,” the man says sharply.
“Um no, there’s still three minutes left on my timer,” she turns her phone screen as evidence, “See? Two minutes now,”
“Yeah, whatever,” he rolls his eyes at her. “You need to start pulling your weight around here Naira and taking this career seriously. You're really holding the team back with your attitude and behavior. You're gonna be the reason the bosses just replace us all with machines, you make people like us who come here to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and work hard for twelve hours straight look bad,” he explains coldly.
“Yeah, she was on her phone for most of her shift. Sorry to rat on you, Naira, but that's the kind of thing he’s talking about…” An older coworker with graying hair and tired eyes chimes in as others nod their heads.
“Yeah… I checked my phone because my sister texted me. I didn't even reply,” Naira says slowly with a confused expression.
“See that's the attitude we were just talking about, Naira. We’re trying to help you and you're just making excuses. I hate to say it but one of these days you're gonna get canned and you won't have anyone to blame but yourself,” he adds with his arms crossed. He then looks behind Naira and smirks. A finger taps her twice on the shoulder as she looks up to see a red-faced and rotund Ms. Claridge.
“Come with me please,” she asks with a disingenuous smile.
Seated in Ms. Claridge's office, the smell of lavender permeates every inch of it causing Naira to automatically hold her breath. Naira looks around at all the company policy posters, fidgeting with her lanyard and tapping her heels on the floor. The beige coloring on Ms. Claridge’s wall only serves to raise her anxiety as she hears the signature sound of her kitten heels clicking while approaching.
Ms. Claridge walks in holding a clipboard and papers and sits at her desk. “Sorry to have you wait. I just had to print some things,” she cleared her throat before continuing. “Now, Naira, do you understand why you’ve been brought here?”
Naira almost instinctively replies. “No,” she elongated the word.
Ms. Claridge grins at her answer. “Of course… Well, it’s been brought to my attention that you may not be able to keep up with the team. Now I myself have watched your performance, and I must say I do agree that you just aren’t meeting the Mal-Mart standard-”
“Are you firing me?” Naira cuts her off.
“Unfortunately,” Ms. Claridge continued with a sympathetic frown that was far from genuine, “I will be having to let you go.” Naira robotically nods as she lifts her eyebrows in understanding. She proceeds to take off her company jacket and signs the papers. She doesn’t truly know what to feel as she grabs her things and walks out of the door, she can't help but have a hard time believing this is real. While relieved that she doesn’t have to return to that terrible job anymore, she can’t help but feel the sting of knowing she's failed in proving she is capable of supporting herself and proving she can be independent and not just another rich girl that can't survive without her parents' help. As silence bathes her, she admits to herself that she’s tired of feeling hopeless and in the way. She knows her friends would support her whenever she is in need but she feels that all she does for them is cause trouble. And as for her parents, she couldn’t imagine having to go back begging for help. As she walked down the moonlit street, the soft precipitation dropped onto her skin. With her hands buried in her puffy pink coat pockets to shelter her hands from this town's frigid cold air, she understands fighting back her tears would be a losing battle and gave in to despair, feeling her tears drip from her chin she keeps her head down in an effort to avoid being seen.
“I just gotta make it home, once I get home I can get some sleep and it'll be alright,” Naira thinks to herself quickening her pace to make it to the trolley.
Just as she’s caught in her train of thought, bam! She feels as if she’s just walked into a wall. Rubbing her head, she looks up into his tired and almost glowing silver eyes. His beauty was unquestionable, his long curly jet-black hair and tan skin were striking, his features reminiscent of a model’s.
“Hey uh… you alright?” She hears as she wipes the tears from her eyes, getting a better look at the figure.
“Um... what?” Naira asks back with a confused expression. He doesn’t look down at her, instead, he is looking behind her, almost as if he’s scanning the streets for someone as cars drive by the two.
“I'm asking if you're okay or do you normally walk around crying and bumping into strangers?” He asks with a confused smirk, his voice low and smooth.
“Oh yeah, I’m fine. Sorry about that,” Naira says hurriedly as she wipes away the last tears and begins walking away.
“Hey, wait, hang on,” he says, taking a breath in, “Look I didn’t mean to seem rude or anything. You seem pretty torn up about something, I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if I let someone as pretty as you walk away without at least trying to make you smile,” the man says nervously scratching his head as he walks beside her.
“He’s weird… but doesn’t seem like a creeper,” Naira thinks to herself as she takes a step back. He was keeping a comfortable distance between them, fidgeting with the wheel of his very worn and sticker-laden skateboard while Naira analyzed him. “And how’re you gonna do that?” she asks the stranger as people walk down the sidewalk around the two.
“Well, I need to know what’s wrong before I can work any magic. Hows about we head over to Lenny’s and grab a bite?” he proposes, wearing a smile on his face.
“I dunno. I'm not dressed for anything like that, and I just met you. You could be some kind of weirdo or something,” Naira answers as she lets out an inquisitive look.
“Who’re you trynna impress?” he laughs softly while looking over at the diner. “The truckers that can barely stand up straight or the staff that hates anyone that walks through those doors past 9 pm? I mean, I'm not judging or anything, it’s just that you’re gonna have some pretty stiff competition when the wrestling team comes in smelling like cottage cheese and eggs,” he jokes with a sarcastic smirk.
Naira laughs softly and rolls her eyes enjoying this banter. “Whatever, sure, I’ll go. But you're paying,” she says while looking down at her feet.
“For sure. I’m Credence,” he says, stretching out his hand for a shake, “and as long as you're with me you’ll never have to touch your wallet again,” he finishes as Naira shakes his hand limply.
“I'm Naira, it's nice to meet you.”