Three Short Words

by Talia Scheinberg
Three Short Words

““Ready?” Aliyah Goldstein asked her co-worker, Dennis Root. They were partners on the designing job for Verizon, using Dennis’s big imagination and Aliyah’s artistic talent. They were the perfect team. But we must go back to deep, deep history.”

Before We Get Started

“Ready?” Aliyah Goldstein asked her co-worker, Dennis Root. They were partners on the designing job for Verizon, using Dennis’s big imagination and Aliyah’s artistic talent. They were the perfect team. But we must go back to deep, deep history.

On the first day of ninth grade, Dennis saw her baby-blue eyes and that hair, the brown beachy waves and the natural, blonde highlights, oh, how he loved her hair. Her olive-colored smooth skin along with her makeup-free face. Her best feature, in his opinion, was her clean language, but her soothing voice (it reminded him of honey) wouldn’t make sense any other way.

“Okay, let’s see,”  said the busy tech designing teacher, while looking down at his many paperworks. “First we’ll have… Aliyah Goldstein and Dennis Root?” the teacher looked up. “Stand up if it’s you.” The two nervous teens nervously stood up, unaware of what they would be in for. Let’s go into deeper history.

Aliyah was born on February 4, 1978. Her parents loved her with their whole hearts, but one day she heard something about some sort of car crash, and refused to hear more. Her father always wanted her to be an electrician, no matter what kind of electronic she was making. To this day, she still remembers her father’s exact words: “Grow up. Do something with your life. Become an electrician, for any kind of electronic.” It wasn’t the kind of, “Oh, grow up. Just go do something with your wasted life.” It was encouraging, and made her believe that even if they WERE dead, her father would still be proud.

Dennis was born on July 7, 1978. His parents are both 100% alive and healthy. His mother is a nutritionist and his father is a doctor, so he has no choice but to be healthy. His parents will make him. Still, at the age of 35 (as of April 2014), he lives with his parents. They want him to take on a profession other than designing cell phones, but — unlike Aliyah — he stuck to his profession. Now, back to ninth grade tech.

“Okay, Aliyah and Dennis will be partnered-up since they’re  both new. Everyone else, find last year’s partner.” From then on, it’s history. The two naturally clicked, and then got a job working for Verizon.

“As always,” Dennis replied. Their rule: improv. No scripts for who says what or anything like that. Improv.

“This,” Aliyah said while displaying the new phone model, “is the Veri Tech Smartphone-” she paused. “-slash  Hologram Mini-Tech. The device folds up so it can fit in somebody’s pocket. ” It went on, and at the end of the presentation they got a standing ovation for their presentation.

Dennis was happy about the ovation and noticed all the smiling faces, but what he didn’t notice was the CEO talking to Aliyah.

Chapter 1

That night, Dennis went home and was excited to tell his parents about the ovation. They were happy to hear, because the duo’s work didn’t really get used. Ever.

“Know that girl, Aliyah. She seems pretty nice. How’s the relationship going?” his father, or should I say, Dr. Root asked.

“Well, there isn’t much of a big relationship. We’re friends, just that,” Dennis confidently replied. Although, deep, deep down inside, he did have some feelings for Aliyah, he wasn’t going to admit that anytime soon.

“Aliyah seems nice. We should invite her over and get to know her. We’re sure she is a great designer,” his mother genuinely told him.

“Yeah, well the creativity is mainly my part, and the art is mainly her part,” Dennis was a bit ashamed that it was sort of  like that he was making the great ideas and she was just doing all the work.

“Well, it looks like it’s time for rest, Dennis,” Dr. Root let him know.

“Aw, but pa! It’s only 9:30!” Dennis complained like a 7-year-old. He hasn’t exactly grown out from childhood.

“We’re gonna have a big day tomorrow, and sleep is what we need.”

Dennis wasn’t going to argue, his parents would just win. He stumped into his room, not dropping the 7-year-old act. In fact, he basically was a 7-year-old. He had posters of super heros plastered on his walls and had a spiderman bed set. A superhero-loving 35-year-old (as of May 2014), that’s Dennis Root for ya.

***

“Please welcome our head designers, Aliyah Goldstein and Dennis Root.” The CEO presented the duo to the board of Verizon to present their new design. Aliyah basically presented the whole model, since Dennis was staring at her the whole time. She had the same 14 year old face: baby blue eyes, brown beachy waves with natural, blonde highlights, olive-colored skin, but now with some lip gloss and brown eyeliner, and a voice like honey.

At the end of their, er, Aliyah’s presentation, they got a standing ovation from the board members. Dennis was surprised that they were the head designers; none of their work had even gotten a single clap before this. But a standing ovation from the CEO, that was a big deal.

At the end of their 10:00 p.m.-6:00 a.m. shift, Aliyah spoke to Dennis about some very important business.

“There’s a job offering up for us, and even though they’re good and everything, it might not be exactly what we want, we’re a team, and we have to agree.”

“What’s the job?” Dennis asked.

“It’s in the building department; we build what other people design.”

“How much more money?” Dennis was all questions. Though, he didn’t care about money that much.

“They said they’ll get back to us on that.”

“How about we think about it for now.”

“Ok.” And there, then they both simply left.

That night at dinner, Dennis spoke to his parents. He explained every detail of it, them not knowing how much more money, and the building department, everything.

“Dennis, if it’s more money, then take it. Money is very important, and we don’t want to miss our chance of getting more.” Dr. Root was a very selfish man, and sometimes Dennis was ahamed they were related.

“Dad, not everything is about money. If we take it, we’re closing up a spot for the less fortunate to make money. And we’re pretty good designers.”

“Dennis, sweetie. Your father makes a point. Money is what we need right now, and we both made the mistake of early retirement, so please. Take it.” Mrs. Root just agreed with her husband.

“Why do we even bother asking their advice? My parents just want money, money money, that’s all they care about. What about what makes their son happy? What about helping others? But no, it’s just money,” Dennis spoke to himself, although his parents were listening closely. “Goodnight.” Dennis spoke directly to the selfish relatives of his who shall remain nameless. He left the conversation at a negative note and went towards his room.

“But Dennis, it’s only 9:30!” his father called after him. It really depended on the conversation that decided what happened at 9:30.

“Well that’s too bad!” Dennis yelled without turning around. He heard a loud bang on their old wood table. Dennis remembered what people said about his father when they were young: David bangs the table when he’s mad. Now that brightened up his day.

I stepped down the stairs to the restaurant. Of course, to meet Aliyah. We had been dating for five years now, and it was about time. I tried not to look like an amateur, dressed in my younger brother’s suit. At the age of 41, I don’t think I should stay forever alone. Besides, we were meant to be.

“Hi,” Aliyah shyly said. She was so cute like that. I pulled out one of the wood chairs for her to sit. I sat in my own chair, and we discussed the menu.

“I want the caviar,” I said to nobody in particular. I was paying. I wasn’t telling her what to get me.

“The bouillabaisse looks good,” she commented. After we were almost done eating our French cuisine (forgive me I didn’t take French), I decided to do what I’d be waiting for since the first day of ninth grade. I got down on one knee and-

“Aliyah Goldstein, will you marry me?” I let the words quickly slip out of my mouth. An awkward silence fell over our table for two.

“So… will you?” I asked again. She better say something.

“No.”  Her hushed tone was part of what was so heartbreaking.

“Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Dennis sat up in his bed, breathing very, very heavily.

“What the hell is going on up there?” he heard his father ask from downstairs.

“Sounds like Dennis had a nightmare,” his mother said. He heard her rush up the stairs to his room.

“Dennis sweetie, what happened?” Part of what he thought was so annoying about his mom was that she was so kind. Even though he liked kindness, it was too much for him to handle.

“Aliyah… said… no,” was all he managed to let out of his mouth. His mom did NOT need to get into his personal life. Even between all the heavy breathing, little miss smarty-pants was able to figure out what he was talking about. Exactly. You don’t want your mom to know that you woke up screaming because the love of your life said no to your proposal in a dream, now do you. Well, Dennis didn’t.

“Aw Dennis, it’s ok. Aliyah is a very beautiful, and awesome, and lovely, and way too out- of-your-league girl.”

“Well, dayum. Duh lady!” Dennis screamed.

“And she definitely doesn’t deserve a stupid little nerdy crybaby, take yourself for example.”

“Goddammit mom!” Dennis screamed, and before she could do anything, he ran out of the house.

Chapter 2

Dennis stormed out of the house, wishing for a bunch of things. In fact, he made a list:

Want to have…

-a better mom

-a better dad

-Aliyah

He couldn’t believe he wrote that. But, being Dennis Root, he continued the list.

-a dog

-a wedding by 40

-my own place 😉

He stopped there. He couldn’t think of anymore. Since he had nowhere to go, he decided to go home. His parents were probably worried sick about him. But then he thought, This might be worth the walk. And boy, he was right.

Walking about the streets of Hoboken, New Jersey, Dennis turned onto Washington. Ah, Washington. The original “main street” of Hoboken. But he wanted to go past Washington, to the river. He walked down to Pier A Park, a pier that wasn’t much of a park, that was Pier C’s job. Walking towards the water, he looked at Sinatra Park, and then at New York City, where he worked. Aliyah lived there, in her own apartment with her dog. Oh, how Dennis loved her dog, Lucy.

Lucy was a 2 year old pug that was going to be killed after her 6 months of puppyhood. Thankfully, Aliyah rescued her just in time, along with her 6 brothers and 3 sisters and her parents. After 6 months of that, on the young dogs’ birthdays, she let them go to their forever owners, only keeping Lucy.

Dennis walked south, so he could see Aliyah’s city better. He heard the clock strike midnight, and a bunch of people cheering. The Empire State Building was red, white, and blue. Of course, Dennis thought. It’s the Fourth of July, 2014. That’s 3 days until my birthday. He decided to start walking to fifth street so he could go on to Jefferson and go home. But somewhere along Washington Street he ran into a blue-eyed someone named Aliyah.

“Aliyah,” Dennis said.

“Dennis,” Aliyah said. “this is a pleasant surprise. Fourth of July in Hoboken. Wow. Just, wow.”

“We put on a real show, us Jerseyans,” Dennis joked, and to his surprise, Aliyah laughed. Her neck crouched over and she pulled her hair out of her face while rising back to her full height.

“The view of the skyline is just amazing. Should we go get a better look?” Aliyah asked.

“Sure, follow my lead.” They walked back downtown, and Dennis was a bit disappointed that he couldn’t stop at 7-Eleven or Subway, but that was okay because he was going to be coming home on the same path.

They walked back right in front of the pier. Dennis walked into the park, but then he realized Aliyah wasn’t following him. He turned around and found Aliyah with her arms crossed. Dennis raised his eyebrows and stuck his head out as if he were asking why she wasn’t coming.

“Why can’t we go over there?” Aliyah pointed to Pier C Park. “It seems funner. Yes, everybody knows, funner isn’t a word, but it’s funner to say funner even though funner isn’t a word.”

“Fine,” Dennis grumbled while walking over to Pier C. “That doesn’t mean there’s a better view or anything, all it has is a playground and it’s a bit more West, er, uh. North, er, uh…” He wanted to impress Aliyah with his geography skills, except for the fact that he didn’t really have any…

“North,” Aliyah corrected, realizing he was having a bit of trouble.

“Yeah… right… that…” Dennis awkwardly said. “So,” he said after an awkward silence. “My birthday’s in 3 days.”

“And mine’s in 8 months,” Aliyah sighed. “36 years and almost a half with still no response from my parents,” Aliyah sighed and continued walking. Dennis ran up to her to catch up to her speedy walking.

“Aliyah,” Dennis sighed as she turned her left foot to face him while picking her right one up. She planted her right foot onto the hard concrete. “They’re alive. It’s guaranteed. Trust me.”

“No it’s not, Dennis. None of us know that.”

“Al-”

“They left me 27 years ago!” Aliyah screamed. “Do you know how hard that was? Living on my own at a young age was the most stressful part of my life, Dennis. You’re lucky your parents are there for you. Oh, there’s one thing that was left out about the promotion,” Aliyah told him. They stopped walking.

“Okay, what is it?” Dennis asked confidently, knowing there still would be no way for him to take it.

“It’s in Canada.”

 

 

 

Chapter 3

“Canada!?” Dennis exclaimed. “Ok, now we definitely CAN’T take the promotion. Sorry, Aliyah.”  He started walking faster and faster and faster until Aliyah caught up right in front of the entrance to Pier C Park.

“Think about it,” Aliyah said while putting her right hand on his left shoulder, causing him to turn around. “We’re both in our mid-30s, single, and we don’t have enough money. Think about it, Dennis. We could have a future in Canada. Living in New York City is a bit… much. Plus, I’m all alone. You’re with your parents.” And that’s what the forming tears of loneliness in Dennis’s eyes were for. He paused for a minute waiting for a good reply. Then it hit him.

“Then I’ll feel thankful for being one of the 50,00 cramped into a square mile.” Was all he managed to say with a broken voice. And just like that, he walked in the other direction to go back to his house.

***

When Dennis arrived at home, his parents were asleep, so he could go straight up to his room and go to sleep. But there was only one problem with that: he wasn’t tired. He looked around to find his green iPhone 5c (it came with the job), but it was nowhere to be seen.

Great. Dennis thought. Just great. It’s 1AM, I’m fully awake, and now my stupid phone is missing. He kicked his twin-sized bed and his phone came out from in between the mattress and the frame. He picked it up and layed down on his bed. He opened Wipeout and started playing until, well, Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

“Hello I can’t really read this it’s really small but I guess I sorta can read it but like not really, I mean, it’s small but I’m not old yet so I can read it how about you?” squeaked a tiny little mouse on a bright green field. “I really need to have normal dreams,” Dennis said as he scratched his head.

***

“Aaaaaaahhhhh!” Dennis screamed as he woke up. He rolled off of his bed and thumped on his head. “Ugh,” he said shortly after, he felt the large bump on his forehead. Then the little mouse from his strange dream came back to him. He pictured her little gray face with her blue eyes and big ears until he realized: the mouse was Aliyah. Her soft face, and those beautiful, sparkling, blue eyes. Though her voice wasn’t as squeaky as a mouse, Dennis could still feel a bit of resemblance between both their voices. Like how she pronounced syrup, sort of taking the y away and leaving it sounding like “surup.” And although the mouse never squeaked out the word syrup, Dennis could tell that she’d pronounce it the Aliyah way. He was certain.

“I have to do something about this,” Dennis spoke to himself while rolling out of bed. “I have to get Aliyah before she goes off to Canada.” But somewhere in his confused mind, a voice doubted him. Why would you even think Aliyah would take you? You’re a 6 and she’s a 10. Just forget it.  Dennis thought about those 2 last sentences. The longer he thought about it, the more true it felt.

“I’m a 6, she’s a 10. Forget it.” He repeated that over and over again, and then he started to have some fun with it.

“I’m a 6, she’s a 10, she’s so fit, I’m insecure, but she’s comin’ back for more. How did we end up here, in the first place, ya said ya had your…” By the time he got to that, Dennis realized he was singing End Up Here by 5 Seconds of Summer.

At once, he stopped, and heard his phone playing it. After about a second, he sang along with it again. About 6 seconds later, the music stopped. He walked over to his phone and clicked the home button. There was one notification that read: Missed Call Aliyah Goldstein

“She called me! She needs a call back!” So Dennis went and called Aliyah. She picked up immediately.

“Hello?” Aliyah asked.

“Hey, um, there was a call with your name, just wanted to check in and see if everything’s okay.”

“Yeah, everything’s great. Though your voice sounds very tired, or maybe it’s just the phone.”

“Um, let’s just say my bed has been recently slept in by someone named Me.”

“Really, there’s a person named Me? Just kidding. But seriously, check the time! It’s noon!”

“So, what was the missed call supposed to be?”

“Oh, it was probably a butt-dial. Sorry.” Aliyah hung up before Dennis could respond. But how would she butt-dial him? He was Dennis Root. Contacts went by last name. R was pretty close to Z.

But then Dennis realized that there were other loners in the world. People who had only a few contacts. And as cool as Aliyah seemed, he had to accept it: Aliyah was a loner.

Chapter 4

Since the 4th of July was a Friday in 2014, the next time Dennis saw Aliyah was on Monday, July 7th. The 36th turning of Dennis. He got a cake and The Board Of Decision (yes, they capitalized the o in “of.” That’s how serious Verizon workers are) came to celebrate.

Dennis walked over to Aliyah as the red velvet 3 layered cake was being passed out. As soon as the two made eye contact, Aliyah rushed out. Dennis followed her. They went down the block, took a left,  Jay Walked through every road, and then they were at the pier. Pier 26, more specifically.

“What’s all this? It’s my birthday, we’re eating my favorite cake.”

“Dennis,” Aliyah weakly spoke. “My boat’s here. It’s taking me to Canada. You know, because they say a boat instead of about. Goodbye.” Dennis chuckled then turned around to look at, well, something besides his dream girl leaving. When he turned around the boat was far away.

“Aliyah, wait!” he called. But it was too late. The boat had already left. “I love you.”

 

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