As soon as Inaya heard the deep baritone on the other end, her pulse began to race with excitement. Her throat tightened with emotion, making it hard to swallow. She leaped up from her black swivel desk chair, suddenly finding it hard to sit still as her favorite radio personality began to express interest in the program she headed up.
I can’t believe I’m actually talking to The Big E, she thought, feeling a little star struck. Her sister would get a kick out of this if she knew.
Inaya was the cool, calm and collected sister whose feathers hardly ever appeared ruffled. Whereas Kali usually wore her emotions on her sleeves for all to see.
“I’m sorry, sir. What was that again?” Inaya missed most of his opening comments and questions due to the fact that she zoned out soon after recognizing who he was. She wisely sat back down since her unsteady legs couldn’t be trusted to support her. With his deep rumble in her right ear, her lower limbs had gone to jelly. Not that regular jelly either – Smuckers.
Chandler frowned at that question. He instantly began to pray. God, please don’t let her be some absentminded biddy. Not with her being responsible for so many innocent children.
Chandler’s frown deepened as he thought back to several social workers from his past. Several bad social workers. They barely paid attention to anything, including whether or not the children they were assigned to were being properly treated in the foster homes they resided in. They certainly hadn’t cared enough about him when he was a foster child.
On top of all that, Chandler wasn’t particularly in the mood to keep repeating himself today. He hated repeating himself at all, which was one of the reasons he spent countless hours in college practicing to become the best and clearest orator he could be. He still practiced the techniques he learned in communications class, skillfully moving his jaw and reading everything he saw out loud just to keep himself sharp.
To chase away his frustration and any bad foster care memories, Chandler turned to the right and looked out the six-paned office window. The tall radio tower could be seen in the distance. At night the tower looked like a Christmas tree with only one twinkling red bulb at the top. Thinking about that nighttime image proved calming to him. The winter holidays had always been a happy time for him even in foster care. It was a time when more people went out of their way to be nice to others.
“I asked if I had to have any special qualifications in order to be a CASA volunteer,” Chandler reiterated, speaking a lot slower this time.
Inaya frowned at his abrupt change in speech. Why was he talking so slow? It was so…so…unattractive.
“Did you hear and understand me this time, Miss Seabrook?”
Oh no, he thinks I’m dimwitted for taking so long to answer him before, Inaya quickly deduced. She could just kick herself.
Inaya hated making a bad impression on anyone. She especially didn’t want to make a bad impression on The Big E – her secret crush. Determined to get herself under control, she breathed in deeply through her nose and out slowly through her mouth before answering his question.
“No, sir. CASA volunteers are ordinary people from all cultures, professions, and educational backgrounds who simply want to make a difference in a child’s life.” Although I doubt if there’s anything ordinary about you, Inaya added to herself, fully in control of her senses now.
Aloud she continued, “Any special training you need will be provided by professionals in their fields to get you familiar with the court system, child welfare system, and other important aspects of the case including child development, interviewing techniques, and cultural competency.”
Chandler smiled, glad to find her conscientious and intelligent after all. With renewed respect and interest, he listened to how articulately Inaya spoke as she began to give him even more information about the program. From the way she sounded on the telephone, he could tell that she was probably no more than thirty, really cared about her job, and most likely had kind eyes to match her kind voice. He was intrigued. Very intrigued. He couldn’t help but wonder if she was married.
Chandler also couldn’t help but wonder if God was finally sending him Miss Right. He’d been ready to settle down ever since he bought his first home three years ago, but just hadn’t found the right woman. On second thought, maybe he was just caught up in the hype of Valentine’s Day. He had been playing way too many love songs today.
“I’m ready to sign up right now. Do I need to come there? Or will something be mailed to me?” Chandler asked.
Inaya fanned herself with a manila file from her black chrome desktop at the thought of him coming to her office. Waves of heat cascaded over her body, making her clothes feel sticky against her skin.
She wanted to shout, ‘Get over here now!’ at the top of her lungs. Instead she answered the way she ought to.
“It’s entirely up to you, sir,” Inaya said. “Some people come in. Others prefer having their information mailed or emailed to them. I’ll be glad to oblige you either way.” And then some, she added silently, fanning herself harder.
“In that case, I’ll come in then,” Chandler said excitedly. “I can be there in an hour.”
“Great! I look forward to seeing you,” Inaya said, eager to meet him in person. All the WBUZ promotional billboards she’d ever seen had shown caricatures of him. How did The Big E look in real life?
I’m going to find out soon enough, Inaya thought giddily.
After ending the call, she ventured upon her feet again and adjusted the beige thermostat by the door. It was entirely too hot in her office. An hour will give me just enough time to cool down, finish these files, and get cuter.
Inaya wondered if she should freshen up her makeup now or later. Later, she decided, wanting to look as fresh as possible when her special visitor arrived.
As for Chandler, he used that hour to go home, shower, and change into something less casual than his usual work attire of jeans, t-shirts and sports jerseys from one of the many basketball and football teams he was a fan of. He had a good impression to make.
© 2014 by Suprina Frazier