This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me! Arabella thinks to herself as she lies in her old bed in her old room in her parents’ old house. The blinds are drawn, and the lights are off. She refuses to get out of bed, even though it is eleven o’clock in the morning. She has no reason to get up. Twenty-five years old and her life is over.
She no longer has an apartment thanks to it becoming infested with black mold and ceiling leaks. A burst pipe changed everything and quickly. It turns out the pipes were fifty-years-old and faulty to boot. They are going to destroy the building next month because of this. So that is why she is back in her old room, laying on the modest double bed that she had as a kid. Things in her job went south as well. She got her foot in the door as a mail-clerk in an up-and-coming company where she enjoyed good benefits and the hopes for a better future. She intended to rise high in the ranks there but without warning, the company got bought out and she got fired on the spot.
Her personal relationships have taken a nose dive as well. She met a guy named Kevin, five months ago at the supermarket. He was handsome and funny. He asked her if she would like to get coffee with him when they were in the coffee aisle. Not one to say no to a pair of beautiful green eyes and a nice smile, Arabella agreed. Since then, they have been seeing a lot of each other and there was a potential for true love to blossom. It turns out that not only was he stringing her along for sex but he had a serious girlfriend. This she realized when he had invited her over to his apartment for a glass of wine and to watch a movie. His girlfriend came in and was understandably livid. He tried to appease the girlfriend and said that Arabella was nobody despite having his arms wrapped around her. Arabella immediately pushed Kevin off of her and ran out of the apartment in tears. Not looking back at the bickering couple.
After this horrible disaster, she went to her best-friend of fifteen years, Cordy. Unknowing to Arabella, she was less than compassionate. This situation is what she feels officially destroyed her. She knew that her friend had been talking to her religiously zealous mother everyday recently and she had started becoming obsessive about being a Christian. But what all this has turned her into, Arabella didn’t see coming. Cordy changed from a kind, funny, caring friend into someone so hateful and judgemental that she can’t help but wonder how can someone like that can call themselves “a good Christian.”
Arabella turns in her bed away from her window and faces the wall as she recounts what her so-called best friend had said to her.
“You are a Jezebel!” She screams across from her tearful friend from her kitchen island. “A succubus! Slut! I am so disappointed in you! How can you sit there and not be ashamed?!”
Arabella couldn’t move. Her tear-stained face goes into shock with her eyes wide and breathing at a halt. “If you had only agreed to go to church with me or even so much as read the bible you would…”
Arabella couldn’t take it. Just like at Kevin’s apartment, she abruptly runs out of her friend’s house and goes straight to her parents’ house. Since that horrible conversation five days ago she hasn’t left her bed since. She can only reflect on how she is now jobless, homeless, loveless, and friendless. She has no idea what to do with herself or how to get out of this misery.
The second she decides to cry herself to sleep again, her mother Lisa knocks on her door. “Arabella. Can I come in?”
“Sure.” Arabella sadly says, not having the energy to say no.
Lisa walks in, carrying a cup of coffee for her depressed daughter. “Here you go sweetie. Just the way you like it. Cream, two sugar.”
Arabella takes one look at the coffee and finds her self unable to even stand the smell of it. She buries her head in her pillow and replies. “Thanks, but no thanks.”
With a sigh, Lisa sits next to her daughter and puts a loving hand on her shoulder. “Honey. You need to get out again. I know you’re in a bad spot but you’ve got to pick yourself up and get out there again.”
“Doing what?” Arabella turns her head and looks to her mother, trying desperately not to cry.
“Well. Why don’t you have lunch with me and Barbara?” She suggests as Arabella wipes her face against her pillow and grimaces. Lisa ignores her as she continues. “We are going to go to Fusion Sushi. I know you love it there. Their sushi is your favorite thing to eat when you are down.”
“I know but Barbara is such a snore.” She speaks. “I mean. I don’t mean to be rude but she just drones on and on in that monotone voice of hers.” With a thunk Arabella buries her face in her pillow again.
“Darling she is a college professor that is what they do and you do need to get out.” Lisa speaks but then gives a slightly mocking tone. “Besides, I know you like those spicy rolls. You want some of that?”
“Yes I do.” Arabella breaths out and finally sits up from her bed to teasingly say to her mother. “Okay but I am only doing this for you.”
Lisa can’t help but smile as Arabella gets out of bed and goes into her closet to find some clothes. All she has to do is bribe her daughter with sushi to get her to do what she needed to do. Well, that and chocolate milkshakes.
The bell rings above the door of Fusion Sushi as Lisa and a fully dressed Arabella step through the door. Arabella has always enjoyed this restaurant. As soon as she steps in, it’s warm and welcoming atmosphere greets her like a long-needed hug. It’s minimal but modern with an exotic Asian twist. This is a style that she wants to implement in her own home. That is if she ever gets one again. She loves the fans with the painted flowers on them and the light up cherry blossom tree on the counter. A small smile escapes her lips as she looks at it.
“Good afternoon!” Says their smiling hostess. “How are you?”
“Good. There’s three of us today. My friend is,” Lisa is interrupted by her friend waving her down. In turn, Lisa points to her friend and continues to the hostess. “Oh! She’s already here. We are sitting with her.”
“Okay very good.” The hostess says and goes back to tidying her station.
Arabella and Lisa walk over to Barbara whose arms are wide open for a hug. “Hi Sweetie! How are you?” She says to Lisa and wraps her in a hug. When she releases their embrace, Barbara looks towards Arabella and puts a friendly hand on her arm, knowing that she isn’t as comfortable with affection as her mother is. “Hi Arabella. I’m glad you could come.”
“Thanks for having me.” Arabella says with genuine kindness and the reminder that if she is rude, she’d have to deal with a lecture from her mother.
The three of them take their seats and look at the tablet sitting on their table. Arabella is the first one to take it. She knows exactly what she wants and feels like she could eat a horse. Without even thinking about it, she orders deep-fried wantons, avocado rolls, mango rolls, edamame beans, tempura shrimp, vegetable “pizza,” and last but not least her favorite roll the spicy avocado hand roll. The handroll is the first thing she eats. It’s like an ice cream cone made with rice, avocado, and the best siracha sauce on the planet. Each bite is silky, creamy, and in the end, you get a big kick of spice. To Arabella, there is no better thing to eat. Her mother and Barbara have been catching up with each other while Arabella just sits on the sidelines enjoying her fare.
Suddenly, Barbara turns to Arabella and pipes up. “By the way, Arabella. I have something here for you. I think you might like it.”
Arabella looks up from her wantons and glances at Barbara with surprise. She pulls out a brochure with a scarlet macaw parrot on the front. In big letters it says. “Volunteers needed for an Archeological Dig.” Arabella can’t’ help but be intrigued as Costa Rica is a bucket list item for her and this might be the perfect time to go.
“Thanks Barbara. I’ll look into it.” She says with an excitement that she hasn’t felt in so long.
She rereads the brochure over and over until she can go home.
That evening, just after supper. Arabella pours a glass of wine for her parents and herself. She wants this family meeting not only be effective but a pleasant one. She takes her seat at the table and begins with a sip of her wine.
“Mom, Dad.” Arabella begins explaining. “I want to volunteer at this archeology dig. I’ve been researching all day and…”
“Alright stop right there.” Her father Bill interrupts. “Arabella this could cost a lot of money and...”
“Only for the flight. That will be $2,500.” Arabella interrupts him back to tell. “I already have $2,000 and I’d like to borrow $500 from you which I will pay you back. Everything else is provided. Food, shelter, and every basic necessity you can think of, including wi-fi. They will be taking us around and giving us tours. We get to learn about the culture. And at the end there is a party.”
“Sweetie.” Bill says trying to show sympathy. “It’s dangerous. I mean I know you need something but do you have to go to the other side of the world to find it?”
“Dad. You know I’ve always wanted to go to Costa Rica and this would be the perfect time to do it.” Arabella looks to him, putting her hand on his arm. “Dad, I need this. After all I have been through in the last few months, an adventure and some time away would be really good for me. I’ll be protected as I am not by myself there. And let’s face it. If I went through therapy it would cost about the same, if not more. It would also take longer too. If I do this, I’ll only be gone a couple of months and I’ll come back in much better shape.”
As he hears his daughter pouring her heart out, Bill can’t help but nod. “Alright. You are right and I can see you have been researching this. So, you can go with my blessing.”
Her father’s understanding smile has Arabella jumping up and down in exhilaration. This is something that he is glad to see again. “But. I want you to Facetime me everyday, just so I know what’s going on and that you are truly safe.”
“I’ll do that Daddy, I promise.” Arabella says happily and shrieks as she goes off to her room to make the preparations.
On her computer, Arabella excitedly writes out her application. She doesn’t even think about it, just answers all their questions. She hits send and suddenly, her confidence diminishes. She leans back against her chair feeling the anxiety speed up from her heart and flow into other parts of her body like venom in her veins. Questions just fill her mind but one stands out above the rest.
“Did I make the right decision?” She thinks to herself.
Arabella stands up and grabs a book that she is reading. She wants to silence the doubts in her mind and she hopes that reading a book will do that for her.
Four in the morning and Arabella still hasn’t fallen asleep. She no longer worries about making the right decision but she does wonder if they will even accept her. With a sigh, she turns over in her bed and speculates what she can possibly do for them. A former mail-clerk in Costa Rica? What can she offer?
Suddenly, a loud ping sounds from her computer. Arabella scrambles up to her computer and opens her email box. The subject line says, “Thank you for Volunteering.” She quickly opens the email and sees what it says. Her heart races with anticipation and soon delight takes over.
“Congratulations. You are selected as a volunteer for the Cook/Stone Archeology Dig. You’re help is greatly appreciated and welcome. You have been selected to be our equipment transporter. Your flight is next week and a guide will have a sign reading the name of our dig to pick you up at the airport. Thank you once again for your assistance in this cause. See you in Costa Rica.
Doctor Felicity Stone, PHD.
PS. The link below is our introductory video. It is our welcome gift to you along with a bit of information about what you will be doing.”
Arabella feels the tears of joy well up inside her. She’s in! She can’t believe that she has been chosen! She clicks on the link to watch the video which is on YouTube. She is greeted by slow percussions and several scarlet macaws flying towards the rainforest. It is so beautiful. Arabella felt like she has a connection with these birds. Now she is going to join them in this fascinating country.
“The scarlet macaw is a bird of new and better beginnings according to Latin legend. By joining us on our quest today, you have opened an opportunity that most people can only dream of…”
The video continues to play and Arabella smiles as she understands now. Like the bird, she has a new beginning. Her heart swells knowing that she is going on a big adventure. She is ready for what comes next and can’t wait to get started.
Special Thanks to:
Fusion Sushi :1137 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2T 0B6. http://www.fusionsushi17.ca/
Danielle's Consignment Boutique: 908 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2T 0A3. https://shopdaniellesconsignment.com/