A Story by Jimtenbo

A tale of an average girl with a job; though, is her life going the way she wanted?


It had been another long week. After five days of pushing papers and dragging her tired body through the corporate gauntlet, Emily was relieved to see that Friday evening was finally upon her once again. And there she was, feeling the gentle sway and rhythmic clatter of the 5:32 p.m. from Nottingham to Leicester.


    It was crowded, as usual, with only a few seats available here and there; some next to the tired, sweaty souls in suits sharper than the worn blouse Emily wore, others were beside wide-eyed students eager to return home with a fresh load of dirty washing to be cleaned. However, Emily felt more at home pressed firmly against the wall of the train, away from the spluttering individual coughing up a lung half-way down the carriage, and from the irritating man talking loudly on his phone.


    She repositioned her headphones, brushing her wavy brown hair back as she did so, as she turned up the volume slightly on the phone in her hands. Her attention and dreary hazel eyes now focused solely on the colour-matching puzzle game she had recently invested her commute time in. It was the perfect blend of RPG, fantasy, and strategy. With travelling by train, bus, and then a short walk home, she needed something to occupy her time with until she could venture forth into the cyberspace world housed within her home computer.


    For the next twenty minutes or so Emily's red fingernails tapped against the screen relentlessly. Once her train arrived and the doors opened, she slunk out into the bustle of Leicester's rush hour. Without glancing up once she waded through the masses, avoiding pushchairs and suitcases, as she ventured through the ticket gate and out onto the street.


    The sun was high enough in the sky to cast a brilliant heat upon the inhabitants of the city, to which Emily cursed her decision that morning to wear her tight black trousers; she was sweltering enough already. Nevertheless, her typical walk down Granby Street was the same as always, littered with pub-goers and early evening shoppers, though the seasonal weather saw an attire change from the norm. Many a male wandered without a shirt on, a few of them exposing their hairy beer-bellies, whilst women took the warm opportunity to get some free tanning-time in.


    Emily had no time for such social gatherings. Her work kept her moderately busy during the day, and she needed an early sleep every weekday night so she could wake up at the crack of dawn to do it all over again. It was tough being in your early twenties and being a new graduate, seeking your ideal job; it meant you had to compromise on everything: pay, location, and the overall tasks you're laboured with. She knew she was being taken advantage of, working for such a small salary, but what else could she do? She just had to grin and bear it.


    She even decided it best to not visit the various game stores she frequented every Friday on the way home. After all, she had greater plans that evening. There was a difficult raid on her favourite PC game she and a small group of online friends had been dying to try out together; this time they'd beat it.


    Now having arrived at the bus station, Emily glanced up to see her bus was already there waiting. She hopped on, made straight for the back seats, and plopped herself down, her eyes now back on her phone. She once again tapped at the screen as more people entered, and soon enough the engine spluttered into life as the bus started to move.


    About time, Emily thought as she threw her bag to the side.


    It wasn't long to go. She only had to endure a fifteen-minute minimum bus journey, followed by a six-minute walk home. Then her weekend of fun could begin. However, just as the bus left the station she felt a vibration. She glanced at the top of the phone screen, an alert ringing in her ears. What had popped down from above was a simple message from Facebook.


    Her eyes flittered up to it. It was from the group of friends she hung around with every now and then offline (her main friends were in her gamer raid party, however, they were all in other parts of the country). Emily could tell from the name of the new group event that they wanted to meet up Sunday afternoon for a coffee. She frowned; she had planned to spend that time on her game, grinding her level up. With a quick flick of her finger, the alert was shot back up to whence it came and she was at peace once more.


    Emily continued to play the game throughout the bus journey, when she walked off onto the quiet suburban streets, and even when she ventured into her local shop for a can of original flavoured Relentless (a regular choice for her when she participated in long MMORPG sessions; when mixed with cola the taste was fantastic) . It was only until she opened the door to her idyllic semi-detached home that she glanced up from her phone. The moment she did so she was greeted by a familiar face, and smell.


    "Aki, hey; how're you, boy?" she smiled, giving the dog a quick pat on her head and a ruffle before walking off, letting the Samoyed bound after her. Despite being much too old to be classed as a puppy anymore, the white, fluffy canine still acted as if he were one-year-old again every time someone walked through the door.


    "Emily? That you?" a shrill voice called out from upstairs.


    "Yeah, mum, it's me."


    "How was your day?"


    "Same old really, another day, another dollar," Emily sighed as she flung her bag by the stairs; she'd sort it out later. She needed her current office job to gain some experience. All the jobs in her field required a certain amount of experience to get into, but to gain the experience you already needed to have a job. It was a vicious cycle that Emily was lucky to have broken into. Most of the people she knew from her university were doing call centre or fast food work for the time being. Though, at times she felt she'd rather be doing that than working in some stuffy office.


    "I'm heading out to bingo soon, so you'll have to sort your own food out," her mother's voice cried out. Emily acknowledged with a dismissive response and darted towards the computer sat in the living room. She placed the can she had taken out of her bag down by the computer, booted it up, and reclined in the comfort of the plush office chair (one much better than what she had to sit in from nine-to-five).


    The eventful, victorious night that followed was one of anxiety, desperation, exhilaration, and comradery. She barely even heard her mother return home and was pleased Aki had decided to spend the whole time sleeping in his basket beside her. With the clock having struck two, Emily knew she deserved that long-awaited rest. Despite it being a bit early to go to bed on a weekend night, with all the high tension and drama that occurred within the Ruins of Khepri, Emily had no trouble shutting down and entering her second favourite place: her dreamland.




    "Alright, Emily, I'm off," her mother shouted from the front door, sunlight streaming onto her ageing skin through the double-glazed glass. There was a pause. Nothing. With a raised eyebrow and a scowl the large-framed, yet petite in height, woman gave a heavy sigh. With striding steps, she bound through the hallway and peered into the living room. "Emily! I'm going."


    "Yeah, yeah, okay," her daughter replied, not looking away from the screen once. She tapped rapidly on the keyboard, watching her digital warrioress battle a horde of small imps. Despite her large headphones covering her ears, she could still hear relatively what was happening in the outside world. "I can hear you."


    The parent sighed. Something had happened at that university to turn her sweet girl into this degenerate. "Alright then, I'll be out for a while; walk Aki and get yourself out the house," she stated, more as a demand than a request. She smiled gently at the tired dog dozing in the warm rays of sunlight cast onto the living room carpet. There was another bout of silence. "Emily?!"


    "Yeah, yeah, walk Aki; I'll do it after this," she responded, following with a groan at the result of her current training session. "Ugh, a Common Gear again? I need Black..."


    With one last sigh, her mother practically slammed the door behind her as she left, leaving a now awake Aki up on all fours. With a wide yawn, he wandered around, wagging his tail as he stretched himself out. He glanced around, unsure of what to do now he had one of his many naps out the way. He stuck his tongue out, panting in the summer heat, as he made his way over to the only other human in the house and sat there, staring up at her.


    "What? I'm busy," Emily snapped as she heard the dog give a slight whine, followed by a quick, rough paw to her knee. Using her bare foot she pushed at the furry nuisance, not wanting to lose the monster-killing chain she had going. However, the boundless fluffball of energy merely saw this as part of the fun and jumped backwards, lowered his front half, and beamed with pure excitement. Emily, who could see what the dog was doing out of the corner of her eye, glanced sideways and shook her head. "No, Aki. Later. Go away."


    Bark. Bark.




    He tilted his head after he spun around on the spot, his tongue lolling out as he waited expectantly. He gave another low whine. However, just as he was ready to go again, his heart raced as he watched Emily toss her headphones onto the desk, rise up, and walk over to an old, chewed-up ball. With little effort or attention, she threw it towards the other end of the room, not staring at Aki who shot off as fast as possible, almost knocking over a plant pot, as he chased after it.


    She sat back down, pleased to see the mob of monsters were weak enough that she could afford that mild distraction. She entered the world once more, letting the grunts and war cries wash over her.


    Bark. Bark.


    With a heavy sigh, she glared at Aki as he stood there. He dropped the ball from his mouth and wagged his tail, waiting for his owner to throw it again. She did so reluctantly. And then the same thing happened. Again and again this back and forth continued. Each time Aki seemed to have a more excited bark and a shorter return time.




    "Aki! Shut up!" Emily cried. She had the right mind to lock him outside the room if it wasn't for all the scratch marks already decorating the white, wooden door. She couldn't be bothered to receive another royal telling off from Her Majesty.


    Bark. Bark. Bark.


    "Aki, I swear..."


    Bark. Bark, bark, bark!


    "Fine! I'll just drop everything for you! Come on then!" she yelled as she stood up abruptly, allowing the headphones to crash onto the keyboard. With a swipe of her mouse she logged off and strode over to the door, followed eagerly by the triumphant Samoyed who tried to leap over to her as if giving her a thank-you hug.


    Emily, less than impressed at having to log off so soon, began to look left and right for his lead. "Ugh, where did she put it?!" she huffed as she dug through the mass of coats and scarves. Surely it would be in plain sight? As she continued to search, Aki grew more and more restless as he paced up and down. Suddenly, she noticed a loud clunk of the door handle as something large and white jumped atop it. Within moments he was gone. A flurry of white had bolted outside, almost vanishing from sight.


    "Aki! Get back here! Aki!" she screamed. She slipped on her scruffy trainers, shut the door behind her, and in a blind, angry panic she glanced at where the pain in the backside had gone. She was thankful her area was so quiet and safe, any other road nearby and she'd be watching the ball of fluff ricochet off a car's windshield.


    She followed the pest towards the wooded area near her home, knowing it was a favourite place of the canine as the abundance of rich smells was evident even to a human like Emily.


    Her footsteps and heartbeat were in sync, beating and racing at a rapid speed. She continued to cry out. Oh, how she wished the dog had some shred of obedience about him. Her voice echoed throughout the thickets as brambles and various shrubs grabbed at her shirt and trousers. This felt familiar. Oddly familiar.


    The wind flew through her hair as the sun barely glinted through the heavy canopy above. The narrow, yet easily traversable, dirt pathway was jumbled with tree roots. Despite her panic, the sounds of the birds around her and the rustling of critters darting out the way of the duo's loud, obtrusive intrusion were as clear as day. All she needed was a youthful amount of energy and it would be just like old times.


    "Aki? Come on, Aki! Wait for me!" she yelled, her face softening as she started to pant; it felt like she hadn't gotten a workout like this since P.E. It was fortunate the dog was getting on in years; if he was anything like what he was back in the day he'd be long gone.


    That's right, Emily thought. "This is just like back then..." she said between breaths. She recalled the pig-tailed brunette in rough knee-high stockings, a smile plastered on her face, and her head full of dreams. The corners of her own lips curved upwards as she inhaled. She closed her eyes and exhaled slowly. That feeling of the balmy air passing through her; it felt so different compared to the mad dash to catch the train on time every other morning.


    She opened her eyes. She must have been running from her home for a good ten minutes, Aki having never left her sight, almost as if he was guiding her. "It's been a while, huh?" she grinned through laboured breaths as she pounced onto the white fiend who had seemingly stopped to wait for her. She clipped him into the lead as she stared around at the clearing before her. "Wow, I had no idea this'd still be here..."


    A short distance to the right, hidden within a grove of thick trees, was a badly damaged and worn wooden structure. It was barely big enough for one adult; two max. Though, Emily knew it could house a few kids easily, alongside a faithful, young Samoyed. Astronauts. Detectives. Superheroes. Home-makers. Wrestlers. Magicians. Her childhood CV would surely not be able to fit on a single side of A4. All those possibilities. All of those dreams. The same friends that still lived nearby were part of these memories. They had surely been through a lot together. When did things grow so distant? She surely felt something amiss as she left and then returned from university. Though, maybe that was all her? Perhaps no one but her had changed? Who would have guessed how fast those youthful years would zoom by, fading into bittersweet memories to be recalled on by an anguished graduate?


    Her current job might not be glamorous like she planned, but being at a publishers would help her achieve her dream of becoming a writer someday. She needed to have hope things would always work out, like the young poorly-dressed version of her. The spunky pre-teen would have never given up when monsters, aliens, or evil warlock overlords knocked at her door.


    Bark. Bark!


    Emily laughed. She forgot how sentimental she could get. She stared down at Aki, looking right into his deep brown eyes. "I won't be here in this town forever," she told him, bending down and placing her hands on the side of his head, stroking softly. "And I guess you won't be with me forever, either. Games come and go, but you've been there for me a lot longer than those faceless bits of data. Sorry I've been such a witch to you, boy."




    She smiled. "Don't get me wrong; I'm not giving up my games," she stated, to which Aki tilted his head once more. "But for now, how about we head back home? I think there's a ball waiting for us with your drool all over it."


    With one last affirmative bark, Aki let his owner lead the way, his tail swishing to and fro as they gently jogged back. Just then, a subtle vibration caused Emily to slow down. She glanced at the reminder for the group café meet-up and smiled. "My friends aren't always going to be there either," she mused.


    She pressed 'accept', nodding in confirmation, and pocketed the phone once more. "It would be good to reminisce with them one more time, huh, Aki?"


    Bark, bark!

© 2017 Jimtenbo

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Added on April 26, 2017
Last Updated on April 26, 2017
Tags: slice of life, story, fiction, nonfiction, everyone, connections, bonds



Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan

A typical guy. The less you know, the better. I just love to write. more..