Authors: C.J. Berry
A Sarah Kinsely Story Book #2
2014 By C.J. Berry
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places or events are entirely coincidental.
“It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.”
― William Blake
“It's hard to tell who has your back, from who has it long enough just to stab you in it....”
― Nicole Richie
I couldn't avoid it any longer.
The phone calls, the emails, and the texts were coming in so quickly now that I had to completely avoid all forms of technology. Each buzz of my phone caused my stomach to lurch, each unread email made me dizzy, and every time my phone rang I ran into my room and closed the door to hide. By mid-week the constant ringing, buzzing, and inbox notifications had left me curled up in a corner of my room, half dressed, unshowered, and just generally a complete mess.
They wanted me back at Abraams and Snider, and I just couldn't bring myself to get out of bed.
I had spent the last week coming up with excuses as to why I hadn't returned to work. It turns out, calling in sick because your heart is laying strewn across the floor in a million pieces doesn't constitute as "sick-day worthy". Peyton was clearly losing patience with my vague communications and the HR rep had already tried calling twice.
But I didn’t care.
If Peyton wanted to fire me because I thought their little hazing ritual too extreme, then so be it. I could find another job. I could get another house. I could move to another city.
I couldn’t repair what they had done to me though. I couldn’t undo Aiden.
It's funny, in a sad way, how quickly the tides change. One second you are on top of the world, the next, you're struggling to stay afloat in what seems like a constant sludge of pitiful existence. Just a week ago I stood at the front door of what I thought would be my dream life, excited for new beginnings and a time for healing. Now, just two and a half weeks later, I could barely get out of bed.
I told myself I deserved it.
I had wanted too much from the city, from those co-workers who had called themselves my friends, from a man I had just met. I wanted the pain and darkness that I left behind in New York to be instantly swallowed up in this new place, but that was naive of me.
No city can drown out that much pain.
Waking up that following morning there was nothing to comfort me. I hit the snooze button at least thirteen times as my body trembled from the cold. I tried to make myself a cup of coffee, but had forgotten to buy filters for the coffee maker and ended up sipping on warm water instead. Because I'd hit the snooze button one too many times I didn't have enough time to take a shower before having to run off to work. I exited my house feeling like a hungry, greasy mess of a human being.
What had replaced my waking dream was a heavy does of reality.
I had been swindled. I had been conned. I had been duped to the highest degree. I was now the star of
Mean Girls 3: The Portland Posse Attacks,
and the scene where I embarrassingly show up to work to face my sworn enemies was fast approaching.
Even if I wanted to quit Abraams and Snider I still had to show up to that place at least one more time. My laptop was in the top drawer of my desk and I still hadn’t collected a check. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t just disappear off the face of the earth.
eventually prevailed and by early Friday morning I had decided it was time to get back to work. If for no other reason than the fact that I was running low on cereal and needed to pick up my first paycheck. I would see how things went from there. If the drama was too thick and heavy, I would snag my check, make a break for my desk to grab my laptop, and run screaming from Abraams and Snider forever. If I was feeling extra vivacious I might even flip Lizzy the bird on my way out.
The commute to Abraams and Snider, which I had enjoyed so much just the week before, now appeared gray, lifeless, colorless; like a scene from a bad dystopian movie. I looked at the passengers on the train. I was searching for a single smile, a glimpse of happiness, something I could latch onto for courage, but I only found soaking wet bodies and the smell of damp dog rudely shoving its way up my nose.
The streetcar seemed to inch along more slowly than usual. The repetitive
of the wheels on the steel track beat a slow rhythm that reverberated in my gut. As the electronic voice called out each stop, one by one getting closer to Abraams and Snider, I felt a new part of the world stack itself on my back. I began to lean over, grasping the vertical handrail for assistance, from the pressure of it all. When the streetcar reached my stop I was nearly doubled over. I waddled my way out like a decrepit old woman begging for alms, and somehow rounded the corner where I saw my building.
The glass pane doors opened and shut as bodies milled in and out. Even standing at a distance I could almost feel the hostile air flowing out of the building and it took my breath away. I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream, I wanted to run away.
Somehow my feet continued to march forward. Perhaps they knew the consequences of staying home from work and not having money to pay for heat to keep their little toes warm during the cold winter months. I don't know, but by some great miracle I was moving forward.
I had a game plan and I was hell-bent on following through with it.
To walk through those front doors alone would have been suicidal. I would have been open and exposed to whatever ignoramus and hurtful thing Lizzy had conjured up to say to me since the last I had seen her. No doubt, her and Aiden would have had a great time that past week recounting their “victory” over me. I imagined them lying together naked, in the same bed Aiden and I had shared, laughing at my expense.
No, I couldn’t enter the building alone. I had to time my entrance so as to avoid detection. I waited for the interns.
Every morning, at exactly 8:15 a.m., a group of ten design students from Portland State University showed up to offer their meager skills and talents to Abraams and Snider at no cost. Having gone through the process myself back in New York, I had always viewed internships with a mild distaste. Modern day slavery may be too strong a description of the process, but it didn’t miss the mark by much.
My plan was to sneak in with the crowd of wide eyed interns and, while they were getting manually checked in by Lizzy, sneak behind them all and make my way to my desk. I told myself that if I could just make it past those first fifteen feet undetected I could manage the rest of my day without incident.
I stood outside for a few extra minutes, waiting. A heavy mist floated down from the dark gray sky and my hair was beginning to soak up the extra moisture and lay flat on my head.
Finally, I saw the group of interns rounding the corner. I waited until the first of them made their way into the building and then I ran to throw myself in the middle of the little crowd. I managed to position myself between two of the tallest students.
I was in.
I had just about made it to the inner doors, past the reception desk, when I heard my name being called.
“Sarah, Sarah is that you?”
She had caught me.
“Yeah, I am just running a little late,” I said trying not to look in her direction.
“Do you need a towel?”
I wanted to jump over her little reception desk, back-hand her until she cried for mercy, and then ask
if she needed a towel.
Instead, I answered in a meek voice, “No thanks,” and pushed my way into the inner building.
Just another one of those wish-I-could-have-done-what-I-was-thinking-without-consequences moments that seemed too often to spring up in my life.
The back-handing would have to wait.
It wasn't long before Peyton was calling me into her office.
"Kinsely come see me."
Her voice echoed through the hallway. Eyes peered over their cubicles at me.
I tried to come up with an excuse, someway to avoid having to sit in her office and look her in the face. This meeting was either going to be about my week long absence or part two of the hazing ritual. I wasn't sure that I had stored enough patience for a morning of getting my ass chewed out by someone like her. My best course of action would be to simply try and avoid the whole thing.
Unfortunately, since I had been missing in action for an entire week, the office had gone on without me. There was nothing for me to make an excuse about. I hadn’t been assigned any more work, I wasn’t slotted for any brainstorming meetings and my desk looked like a display model at
It was empty.
Like a child pretending not to hear her mother, I sat and waited. I might not be able to avoid the meeting altogether, but maybe I could prolong it.
Peyton called for me again.
I heard a heavy sigh and papers being shuffled by the writer in the cubicle next to mine. Peyton’s style of yelling her orders down the hall was disruptive when she only did it once. I wanted to apologize, but couldn’t give up my hiding spot.
Maybe, if I staid still long enough, Peyton would think I hadn't heard her. Maybe, since she was just yelling down the hall anyways, she might just give up instead of taking the extra trip to my desk. Maybe, I could just sit here all day. Maybe, I could just sit here forever and everything bad that had ever happened to me or ever will happen will just magically go away.
I can dream right?
One minute of silence passed, then two. I was beginning to think that it might actually work.
I clicked open my email.
Then I felt a presence standing behind me in the entrance to my cubicle, looking over my shoulder. My shoulders tightened and I braced for the worst, imagining a cackling Peyton standing with her arms across her chest looking down her nose at me.
"Hello there Sarah."
My eyes widened. It was a man's voice.
"I said hello." The voice repeated.
I turned my chair.
"Oh, hello Brandon. How are you doing? I like that tie."
I was a pitiful suck-up at best, and considering the circumstances, I don't even know why I tried. My mind was miles away from trying to climb the corporate ladder a that moment and my comment came out sounding contrived and cheesy — because it was.
"You got a minute to chat?" he asked.
"Yeah, what's up?"
"Why don't you come with me."
"OK, where are we going?" I had hoped we were heading to the HR department so I could collect my check and get fired.
Lets just get it over with already.
Instead, we walked straight into Peyton's office.
"Hey there P," Brandon said.
"Please sit down Sarah."
Peyton didn't look up from the papers she was shuffling.
I took my cue and sat down, keeping my eyes on the faux bearskin rug on the floor.
Brandon was the first to speak.