Another page from my book.
Cynthia was back. I was in the office, mostly surfing the net and drinking coffee, when word spread that she was back. Constance came hurrying in the room, hauling her paperwork back in.
“She’s back from France. She could be here any minute,” she said frantically, trying to organize herself. Constance was always wearing a calf length black skirt. And the funny thing was that it didn’t matter if it was middle of winter or middle of summer. Always the same skirt. Some of them had a bit of a pattern on them. Some were just black. There were rumors in the office that she was a Mennonite. Nobody knew for sure though. It was hard to say because she was living with Diel, though they weren’t married. It seemed a very unmennonite thing to do, the whole issue of interracial dating aside, which also seemed very unmennonitish.
My other two office mates, Sheila and Nancy, begin quickly shuffling papers on their desks, madly stuffing documents in drawers. I could hear Nancy muttering expletives under her breath. Sheila, a petite woman who very much keeps to herself, made the sign of the cross. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the expletives or because of Cynthia’s impending arrival.
I exited out of my hotmail account and begin pulling up spreadsheets. They were of last quarter, but it didn’t matter.
And then we sat there, poised and ready. But she didn’t come. Not for another hour. We were all sitting there, so tense and anxious. Looking furtively at each other while trying to appear immersed in our work.
Suddenly, we head the clacking of her heels in the hallway. We all picked up our pace. She came into the office and stopped short as she approached my desk.
“Kristina, a word please,” she said, her eyes locked on the Starbucks coffee in my hand. I stood up and followed her out of the office. The others gave me a forced smile, but I could see the fear and the pity in their eyes.
Once in her office she lit up.
“I thought we had an understanding,” she said, closing her eyes as she inhaled.
“Why must I always repeat myself? An understanding,” she said, drawing the word out as if she were talking to a child. “You were supposed to be on bed rest.”
“Well, the doctor never mentioned…” I began hopelessly.
“You don’t take your orders from the doctor. You take them from me,” she said, closing her eyes again and rubbing her temples, as though the mere act of looking at me were taxing.
“I did stay on bed rest for a week or so. But then I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I had to get out. And it’s not like my job here is so physical. I’m still sitting all day. Think of it as… chair rest,” I offered with a terse smile.
“Chair rest? What is that, a joke? And what’s worse, I find you drinking coffee!” she said, her voice breaking. She spat out the word coffee as though it were Wild Turkey.
“Oh, well, I… didn’t think. We don’t know yet if… if the procedure was successful, so I didn’t see the harm in it.”
“Didn’t see the harm in it,” she said with a wry laugh. “You may work the rest of the week. I will allow that. But if I see you drinking coffee again, Kristina, I will reconsider the compensation you’re receiving.”
“Fine,” I respond. Fine. I guess I can live without coffee for forty weeks.
Forty weeks. That’s actually a long time. Almost a full year. God help me.
God help us all.
She stares at me, annoyed. “And you’re still standing here because…”
“Oh.” I said, standing up. I didn’t realize I had been dismissed. Stupid me.
“Just one more thing,” I begin. “Uh, about the blastocytes. There are four of them? Because I thought that we agreed on one,” I ask feebly.
“Must I explain everything to you?” she asked, butting out her slim rather aggressively. “We are simply implanting four with the hopes that one of them will implant. If they all implant, we will discuss reducing the pregnancy to a more reasonable number. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. All right? Did you catch that or do I need to repeat myself? Perhaps I should write it down.” Her voice was sugary and angry at the same time. She sounded like a kindergarten teacher strung out on coke.
Not that I’d ever had one. At least not to the best of my knowledge
“No. No you don’t need to repeat yourself. That’s fine,” I say, walking out of the room. An odd feeling spread through me. I can’t quite say what it is. Maybe fear or regret or despair, or a combination of all three. It was like cold gravy congealing at the bottom of my stomach. That’s the best way to describe it, though I know it’s a weird metaphor. Because I actually like gravy. But that’s beside the point.