The next morning I head down stairs and find both of my parents have already left for work. My mother is a high ranking psychologist of some kind (I never really kept up or payed much attention to her working occupation). My father held a job as an architectural construction worker. My father and I were constantly joking around about how my mother’s career was too fancy for us and that we were the shrivelled up grapes on the bottom of the vine, the ones being eaten alive by small, bottom feeding birds, rotting away while she was the plump, ripe one all the way at the top. Occasionally she would join in with us and say that we were accusing her of being fat when they said plump grape. Or she would stand up on a chair, raise her arms and lean her head back and yell, “I am the all mighty lord of this vine, you shall tremble in the presence of such a dictator!” And then we would all fall into a hysterical mound of heaving shoulders and breathlessness.
The silence was disturbed by the loud cry of the landline hanging in the hallway. I rushed to answer it but when I picked up the line, greeted the unknown individual on the other end and announced who they were currently speaking to, there was no reply. I waited a few more seconds and then the line went dead, chiming the slow, monotone beeping chorus that follows a hang up. I slammed the receiver back onto the main body and marched to the kitchen mumbling curses to myself about prank callers. After swiftly making a gourmet breakfast of peanut butter on toast I raced back upstairs, changed, grabbed my backpack and headed out the door. As soon as I had walked out the front door of our apartment I turn around as the door had just closed behind me and I was now staring at the shiny number 16 that was attached to the door. Standing there quite a while trying to think if I had forgotten anything and then concluded that even if I had, it was too late to turn back now. As I went tearing down the hall heading straight for the elevator I ended up not considering that people could be coming around the corners of the cross sections of the hallways and if they did I would end up barrelling into them just as I did an old lady that was just rounding a corner as I came rushing down and straight into her almost knocking her over. Luckily I was the only one that went crashing to the ground, landing hard on my shoulder. After a few moments of gathering body and my thoughts, I look up to inspect what or who I had run into at full bawl. To my utter surprise I looked up to see an elderly woman, the same elderly woman that I had been talking to at the Plaza yesterday. I quickly scrambled to my feet and began instinctively inspecting her and enquiring as to whether she was alright.
“Oh my gosh are you okay?” I asked in a panicked manner.
“I’m alright lovey don’t worry about me.” She assured me.
“I’m so sorry; I didn’t mean to run straight into you like that. I am so so sorry. Are you sure you are okay?” Further questioning the poor old lady still wearing the light pink bucket hat with a collection of little, brightly coloured flowers sewn into the folded up part at the front. She still wore the delicate, wrinkled smile, her eyes so bright it was like they were smiling at you all on their own on a separate accord.
“Yes lovely, believe it or not, I am tougher than I look.” She assured me once again.
“Well I can believe that now. I don’t think I ever asked you what your name was.”
“Ellen, there are three girls in my class named Ellen so I’m sure I won’t forget it.”
Ellen smiled at me once more with that vaguely familiar, rosy smile of hers. It got me thinking that maybe I did know it after all. quickly dismissing that thought on the account that it was absolutely Ludacris, I remembered my manners when seeing the large brown paper grocery bag being cradled in her arms.
“Would you like me to carry that for you?” I enquired, already taking a step towards her to grab it.
“Oh that’s alright, I can manage.” She assured me.
“Nonsense, that’s what young people are for aren’t they.” I joked, clutching and lifting the heavy bag out of her arms. Thinking about it, I can remember many occasions where there the youth of the world never even stopped to greet our elders, let alone aid them.