Conceited ALOKA desai AND KRISHA DESAI

They’ve always told me that I was conceited. That I was selfish and didn’t think about the rest of the world. That I would never achieve something great in life. I proved them wrong.

Chapter One

“Every day feels like it goes on for years.”

“Hello?” I call into the empty antique shop, waiting for a response. The room is quiet, other than the sound of my yellow dress ruffling against my arm. I feel my hands sweating, so I attempt to wipe them with the skirt of my dress. “I’m here to pick up my mom’s necklace,” I continue as I stare into the darkness. Suddenly, I hear the sound of glass to the ground from what looks like the staff room. I rush across the room and quietly turn to open the adjacent door, where I see the silhouette of a man, hunching over a chair and mumbling to himself. As he swivels his head in my direction, I see that he hasn’t slept in days, yet his sharp eyes startle me. “Who are you?” He barks to me, “You aren’t allowed back here.” Instead of replying, I curiously ask “What is that?” Pointing to the odd looking chair. He looks at me in the eye, pondering if he should trust me, until his face twists into what looks like a smile. “I built a time machine,” he says as if it’s the simplest thing in the world. I laugh, thinking this is a joke. Many scientists have tried to build a time machine in the past, but have failed. So out of all people, how could this strange man succeed in building a time machine? Deciding to play along, I ask in an equally casual tone “Can I sit on it?” He had looked so pleased with his ‘invention’, but as soon as I asked, his smile had turned into a scowl. “Never!” he shouts from across the room. “Nobody dares to touch my Marissa!” “Marissa?” I frown. He looks down fondly at his invention and says sweetly, “My time machine.” At this point, I know that the man is mad, after all, who else would name their invention? No doubt, this man thinks he has achieved something great, but I know that I must prove him wrong.

A crash brings me back to reality. I notice glass shattered across the floor again. The mad man curses under his breath as he walks around the glass. “I’m going to get a broom, and you better be gone by the time I get back.” He quickly stomps out of the staff room and closes the door, and I see light peeking through the crack of the door. I take this chance to sit on his invention. As I sit on the chair, I began to get drowsy and I decide to close my eyes. I’ll prove him wrong, this surely can’t work.

I wake up sitting on the same chair that I had drifted to sleep in. I suddenly realize that I must get home, so I jump off the chair and skim the antique shop once again, but seeing no one there, I walk out. Opening the door to the shop, I realize that the sun has set, creating a hue of vivid pinks and oranges. I feel the sun rays on my face, and I close my eyes to feel the warmth against the skin. Suddenly, a rush of panic goes through my body, as I know mother wanted me to be home by noon. I speed up my pace, but I stop once I hear a man calling for me. “You dropped this,” he says as he hands me back my wallet. He looks no older than forty years old, with brown curly hair and old, dirty overalls. “Thanks.” I say and begin to sprint back home, realizing that I have wasted too much time.

I’ve been running for what feels like hours and have no idea where I am. I hear talking from a distance and decide to head in that direction. When I arrive to the voices, it brings me to a dull area with houses built with what looks like dirt, cardboard, and tin. How could anyone live here? I wonder. While thinking, I unintentionally bump into a boy, about five years old. “Sorry miss!” He says out of shock, “I wasn’t looking where I was going.” Disregarding his comment, I ask him where I am. After all, it should be my priority to get back home. “Welcome to the Stellar Slums miss!” He says a bit too proudly. “Slums?” I ask curiously. I’ve never heard of such a thing. “Yes, slums,” he begins to explain, “My family and I came here from Spark town way up north. My mommy and daddy couldn’t find a home so here we are, living in the Stellar Slums miss.” I am extremely confused at this point and I think the little boy notices, as he invites me to his home. “Come this way miss!” He yells, running past me. I rush to follow him. “This is my home!” He says excitedly, pointing at a house with no door. I quietly observe the house from outside. I can see that the walls are painted blue, but the paint is now peeling off. I notice that they have attempted to cover up the flaws with crooked family photos, but the house doesn’t seem to look any more appealing. There is no electricity in the house and no source of clean water. I am aware that the family doesn’t own a television or a single android to assist with chores.

At this point, I am having trouble believing this boy. Living here? That’s impossible! “Come meet mommy!” He says, snapping me out of my daydream. He holds my hand and leads me to what I think is the family room. It’s really hard to tell, knowing that there is no furniture in the room. “Mommy, I made a friend!” He shouts towards the kitchen. “That’s great honey! Let me come and meet them.” I stay silent as a tall, slim woman with hair tied up into a bun walks towards us. “Hello, I’m Fiona, Chris’s mother.” She says as she smiles at me. “I’m Naomi. I got lost and bumped into your son. He brought me here.” I say just above a whisper. I am still so shocked at this family's living conditions. “Where are you from?” Fiona says sweetly. “Stellar City.” I say while smiling, remembering my home. She looks as if she’s about to laugh but realizes I am being serious. “You’re from the city?” She asks, looking at me from top to bottom. “Yes, and I’m trying to find my way back home.” I say impatiently. She doesn’t answer so I decide to continue talking. “How long have you lived here for?” I try asking as sweetly as possible, knowing the answer will be hard. “I can’t remember,” Fiona replies after a moment of thinking. “Every day feels like it goes on for years.”

Chapter Two

I can’t do anything, I think to myself, can I?

I’m back home, but I still can’t stop thinking about what Fiona told me. Her voice echos in my head over and over again as I try to go to sleep. I can’t do anything, I think to myself, can I? Is it possible for me to make a difference, to save Fiona and her son’s life?

I wake up the next morning determined to make a difference. Last night, I had thought about what I could do to give Fiona the quality of life that I am fortunate to have. I look in the mirror to see the tanned reflection of myself, with my short brown hair and green eyes. I had the idea to build an environmentally friendly shack for Fiona and Chris. I spend my day making a plan on how the shack would look like and how much it would cost. I am relieved to see that I have enough money to build this shack. I run out of my house and race to the bank. “Please open my bank account: Naomi Jones.” I say hurryingly. The short, tubby man at the front desk types in a code on a computer and opens up a screen. I’ve done this multiple times before so it’s nothing new. The screen scans my face which allows me to enter a room filled with hundreds of names. I easily find mine, located closer to the door, and take out the amount of money I need. Thanks!” I yell while running out of the bank.

Over the course of five days, I learn how to build and an environmentally friendly shack. The iShack. That’s what I have decided to call it. I did make it after all. The shack using solar plastic bottle light bulbs for electricity, and the roof can collect clean rainwater. The exterior walls are coated with fire protective paint, and the floor is made of solid bricks. Truly, the iShack will be safe and clean for Fiona and her son. The shack is near the Stellar Slums so I decide to get Fiona and Chris and show them their new home.

This is the second time I have been here, so I decide to take in my surroundings this time. I realize how many people there really are in these slums and how much they are struggling to live a decent quality of life. I make it to Fiona’s home and call out her name. “Fiona!” I yell into the unstable home. I see her tall figure come towards me. She looks at me with tired eyes filled with tears. “Is everything alright?” I ask, beginning to get worried. “Chris is severely sick because of the dirty water and I don’t know what to do.” She sobs. “Fiona, I may be able to change that” I say excitedly. I lead Fiona towards the iShack and can’t wait to see her reaction. We finally arrive to the iShack and I realize there are a few people crowded around it confused as to what it is. “What is this?” Fiona asks, just as confused as everyone else. “Your new home.” I answer, happily. Fiona doesn’t respond for a few seconds and I can’t help but to feel a bit worried. “What happened? I did this for you because I saw how much you were struggling and I -”

“This is perfect.” She says, interrupting me. Both of us erupt into smiles and I realize Fiona is tearing up. “Chris won’t get sick in a home like this.” I assure her. “Thank you so much, Naomi,” she begins, “Chris will be thrilled once he sees this!” She laughs.

Chapter Three

I’ve been dreaming this entire time.

It’s a few hours after I showed Fiona and Chris the iShack and I couldn’t be more happy. I am looking forward to building more of these iShack's for the rest of the population in the slums after noticing how much they were struggling too. I know that with these iShacks, all the families will have a longer life expectancy since they will be living in a hygienic environment, with a clean source of water. They would be able to afford these homes, paying only a small amount of $675. They would live as a happy community. If I wouldn’t have gathered the courage to create better homes for these people, they wouldn’t be so happy today. “What are you doing!?” I hear someone yell. “Excuse me! Move!” I keep looking around my room but see no one.

Suddenly I wake up to someone shaking me. “Wake up!” I realize it is the man who created the ‘time machine’. I then notice that I am still sitting on the chair. I’ve been dreaming this entire time. There is no Fiona or Chris. I never took money out of my bank account. And I never built an iShack. “Get off of my Marissa!” The mad man yells. I jump off the chair, freaked out with the whole situation. How is it possible for that dream to seem so realistic. I scan the antique shop, but seeing no one, I start running, realizing that it is 12:30pm and I was supposed to be home half an hour ago. “Excuse me, Miss!” I hear a man shout from behind me and turn around. “You dropped this,” he says, as he hands me my wallet. He looks no older than forty years old, with brown curly hair and old, dirty overalls. “Thanks.” I say this more as a question. I walk away thinking, this seems all too familiar. As if it’s already happened.

The End

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