The clock on her bed side table reads 5:45am. Caitlyn hits the snooze button one more time to catch up on some more shut-eye. It was past midnight when she slept as she had to finish coordinating today’s big event at the animal sanctuary – the Annual Volunteers’ Orientation. She was assigned to take care of the name cards and guidelines printout for the new volunteers and other admin stuff, but what took most of her time the night before was the car pooling coordination duty. She had to reach out to new volunteers and and make sure everyone has a ride to the sanctuary.
“Beep...Beep...Beep”, Caitlyn finally turned off the alarm and sat down. She momentarily brushed her eyes, and reached out towards her side table for her eye glasses. Despite being only 17 years old, Caitlyn, suffers from being near sighted. When she finally had her eye glasses on, she then reached out for her digital alarm clock to check on the time.
“Oh Lord, I gotta get moving. Please make today great, or at least okay if not great. We really need more hands in the sanctuary.”, Caitlyn mustered a hurried prayer before making a run for the bathroom. This volunteer work is very important for her. She has been spending her Saturdays at the Hampton Animal Sanctuary every summer since her parents divorce four years ago. It became as much as a sanctuary for he as it is for the rescued animals brought there.
As she is taking a shower, she made a mental note to tell their household help of fifteen years, Teresa, to just pack a sandwich for her since she can’t afford to have breakfast when she was the one who instructed the volunteers to be at the gas station by 730am. And given that she knows herself for not being very swift when it comes to morning rituals, she knows that there’s really no way she can have breakfast at home.
After a quick bath, Caitlyn went ahead and changed into her new favorite skinny jeans which highlights her shapely legs and her white volunteer shirt with a print that says Hampton Sanctuary Angels . She then got hold of a brown belt and just to add some inspiration, she put on the lariat she finished making the other day using some random beads she got from her old jewelry making stash. After much thought, she settled for her dark brown, synthetic suede, mid-calf boots. She looked at herself in her full length mirror and was satisfied. She pulled up her long, dark brown hair into a pony tail and grabbed a sun visor and stashed it into her back pack.
“Caitlyn! Wake up! It’s already 6:40!”, Teresa, her nanny called out from downstairs.
“I know! I’m about to go down. Make me a sandwich please. Make that 2, I’m famished.”, Caitlyn hollered back as she was going over the contents of her back pack to make sure she’s got all that she needs:
- Name tags – checked.
- Printed Volunteer Guidelines – checked.
- Mobile Phone – checked.
- Power bank – checked.
- Her planner and pencil case – checked.
- Hand-sanitizer and a pack of Tissue – checked.
- Make up kit and comb – checked.
- Extra shirt and towellete – checked.
It was already 7am by the time Caitlyn finally set foot in the kitchen. Teresa, who happens to be 14 years her senior, who is somewhat a mash up between a big sister and a second mom to her – gave her a questioning look. And when she didn’t bite into it with an explanation for dressing up on a volunteer Saturday at the shelter, Teresa was quick to put her questioning stare into words.
“Hmmm... why are you so dressed up? Aren’t you going to get soiled in the sanctuary when you cuddle the animals?”
“And just what is it that you mean by that?”, Caitlyn asked with a pseudo-menacing look before she downed a glass of orange juice and grabbed her sandwich.
“Just that you might be trying to make someone...”, Caitlyn was quick to put hand on Teresa’s mouth to shut her up before she starts dishing out her theories and lectures again, about the opposite sex. Teresa knows that Caitlyn’s been crushing on Chester - one of the young volunteer vets in the sanctuary, for over a year now. But Caitlyn can only pine for him, since the young doctor has a serious girlfriend, and to make things even more tragic for Caitlyn, that girl is one of the administrative staff of the sanctuary who is nothing but sweet to her, Brooke.
“Enough of that okay? I just want to look nice for myself. Can’t a girl dress up for herself?”, came Caitlyn’s quick retort. And before Teresa can come up with another answer, Caitlyn went for the door and declared that she will be home before dinner.
It was already 7:22 when Caitlyn arrived at the gasoline station. She parked her old Volvo station wagon in front of the convenience store, where most of the volunteers are hanging out, excitedly buzzing and exchanging stories of their own pets. There’s three people riding with her, her friend Elise, Elise’s 12 year old cousin – Archie and a guy named Jason.
Surprisingly, almost everyone is on time. It’s a good thing since that means they will have more time to work on the sanctuary.
“Alright, everyone gather up. We’ll take the I-29 and exit at the East Ridge, the Hampton’s Sanctuary will be around 6 miles towards the right. You can just follow our car in case you’re not sure okay? And I’m sure everyone has GPS now right?”, says Allison, one of the senior volunteers like Caitlyn. Allison is the go-to person when it comes to anything about media publication and all web related stuff. She’s basically the group’s publicist, her main function is to maintain the group’s Facebook page, which is geared towards networking rehabilitated rescued dogs and cats into finding new homes.
Caitlyn gave Allison the list of people for the carpool and Allison started doing a roll call. Caitlyn was headed for the convenience store for a doublemint gum when she bumped into a tall guy, who appears to be one of the new volunteers.
“Oh I’m sorry. Are you ok?”, the guy apologized as he got hold of Caitlyn’s coin purse and gave it back to her.
“Yeah, I am. Just be careful next time. It’s a good thing neither of us were holding any liquid.”, Caitlyn said with a hint of irritation in her voice.
“Yeah. Sorry again. Hey I’m Jason, I was told I’ll be riding with you. You’re Caitlyn right?”, they guy said, obviously looking more uncomfortable by the minute.
“Oh yeah, that’s me. I guess you know me coz you saw the pictures in the facebook page?”.
“Okay, I’ll just grab some candies and I’ll be right out. That’s my car over there, the white station wagon.”, Caitlyn pointed.
By 7:38 they were already pulling out of the gasoline station and off to the Hampton’s, which is around forty miles away. They managed to recruit 16 more people.
Elise, was seated next to Caitlyn at the passenger seat and at the back are Jason and Archie, who immediately bonded in their shared fascination of pitbulls and the cartoon Dragon Ball Z.
“Jason, where do you go to school?”, Elise asked him, cutting off Jason’s diatribe about some character in that cartoon Dragon Ball Z.
“Oh, I’m from Arizona. And we recently moved here because my father got assigned here. This coming school year, I’ll be attending Sutton High. I’m an incoming senior.”
“Sounds great. We might have some classes together. Caitlyn and I are incoming seniors too at Sutton.”, says Elise.
Elise, is 2 months younger than Caitlyn. She is one of the nicest people in Sutton high, and not to mention smart. She and Caitlyn were pretty much cut from the same cloth, although, nice is not exactly a word that could be used to describe Caitlyn, when it comes to how she relates with people. That adjective can only be used to refer to Caitlyn when it comes to her dealings with the animals and a selected group of people that she likes. Elise on the other hand, has a sunny personality. She could very well be awarded Miss Congeniality in any beauty pageant. Blonde and blue eyed with matching wits to boot, she could very well be a candidate for a beauty contest, but her 5’1” petite frame is the only deterrent when it comes to pursuing any dream of joining a pageant.
Caitlyn and Elise were friends since grade school. They started hanging out when a group of mean girls were bullying Elise for being quite short for her age. And Caitlyn, despite having a mean bone herself, is never fond of seeing anyone being bullied. One day, when one of the mean girls ordered Elise to do her homework for her, Caitlyn made sure to put an end to it by recording the whole thing on her mobile and giving it to their homeroom advisor. From then on, they’ve been as close as sisters.
“Jason, what did you say your dad’s work is again?”, inquired Elise.
“He’s a medical representative for Pfizer.”, replied Jason.
“Wow! You think you can score us some anti-depressants?”, Caitlyn mocked.
“Stop it Katie! Don’t listen to her. She’s just kidding.”, Elise told Jason looking at him through the rear view mirror.
“And yes she’s just kidding, Archie!”, Elise then shifted her stern gaze towards her 12 year old, overweight cousin, hoping he didn’t think Caitlyn was serious about it.
“Oh I am serious!”, shouted Caitlyn as she laughed hysterically.
“Enough about that Caitlyn.”, warned Elise.
“What are you? My mother?”, Caitlyn rolled her eyes on Elise while still trying not to laugh.
“Hey we’re almost near the exit, careful not to miss it.”, Jason said cutting in Caitlyn and Elise’s banter.
“Oh sure mister GPS.” Caitlyn quipped, looking at Jason at the rear view mirror.
“Don’t mind her Jason, she’s just cranky because she hasn’t had breakfast. We’re all not ourselves until we had something to eat, right?”, Elise told Jason apologetically, obviously embarrassed by her friend’s sarcasm.
“Yeah don’t mind me Jason, or else you wont have a choice but to walk back to the gas station later today by foot. You wouldn’t want that right?”, smiled Caitlyn like a Cheschire cat that’s about to pound on its prey.
Elise jabbed Caitlyn and gave her her packed sandwich in an attempt to get her mouth busy with something else, instead of scaring off the new volunteer, Jason. The sandwich maneuver worked, Caitlyn quickly munched on the smoked salmon sandwich that Teresa meticulously prepared for her. Everyone was quiet when they finally took the East Ridge exit.
Five minutes of sacred silence and at last they saw the arc that bears the sign – Hamptons Animal Shelter and Sanctuary. They were trailing Allison’s car and they on the other hand, were followed by three more cars.
They headed to the parking lot near the stables. Aside from dogs and cats, the sanctuary also takes in cows and horses.
Caitlyn, was eyeing the stables, hoping to catch a glimpse of Chester. As they moved out of the car, she saw Brooke coming out of the stable instead, the administrative staff of the sanctuary, and Chester’s girlfriend. Brooke immediately welcomed them and introduced herself to Archie and Jason. Caitlyn, quickly faked a smile for Brooke when she realized she must have been scowling. But the smile became real, the moment she saw Chester walk out the stable wearing a plaid polo, denim jeans and black boots, with his stethoscope around his neck. He looks like a mash up between a cowboy and a doctor, such a welcomed sight for Caitlyn. Elise was quick to jab her on the side, as she suddenly lit up like a light bulb, upon seeing him. It’s a good thing Brooke was busy chatting with Archie and Jason.