She looks at the young lady and can feel something’s not right. But she doesn’t know where to begin so she stands and stares out of the window.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Sure, go ahead.”
“Is there something wrong with me?”
“What do you mean?”
Kate stares out of the window, leaning on the wall. “I don’t know. I just feel… different. It’s like no one likes me.”
“What do you mean no one likes you? Do you mean here?”
Kate shrugs but does not pull her gaze from the street below. The words have been formed in her head but she’s finding it hard to say them. Difficult to let them out. The cracks in her personality are becoming apparent, she’s human.
“Is it about this morning, because I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have shouted at you?”
“It’s not that…it’s just…you won’t understand.”
She sighs a breath of relief, she’s not to blame for this current mood. And yet she still feels she must be certain she is not at fault. “Kate, I was wrong to do it and I’ll try not to do it again.”
The intern looks at her and she only now realizes the true scale of the situation. Those usually clear eyes are glassy with restrained tears. The corners of her mouth are beginning to quiver, foreshadowing much feared events.
“Kate? Are you alright?”
Kate’s hands overlap on her face and a tear breaks free, racing down her cheek. Without a moment’s hesitation she is being rushed through the office to the ladies washroom. Once there, the tears fall freely but she manages to muffle her yet unexplained cries on a friendly shoulder. Her head bent to accessible heights, a stranger’s hand tenderly pats her hair.
“It’s alright,” she whispers repeatedly, allowing her to cry. Forgetting she’s wearing a white blouse and the tell-tale patches of undried tears will complement the soup stain for a few minutes before they dry away.
“What are you apologizing for?”
It’s asked in a most motherly fashion, communicating there is nothing to be ashamed of in a few tears. The intern breaks into a short nervous laugh. She doesn’t know what she’s apologizing for.
“Come on. What is it? You can’t be crying for nothing.”
“It’s just something silly.”
“Then tell me.”
“No, you’ll just think it’s stupid.”
A sole tear makes it from her left eye and traces its way unhindered along the side of her nose. She dubs at it with her middle finger and examines the moisture on her digit with a mock smile on her face. “Gosh, I’m crying.”
“Just wait here.”
She rushes back to her desk and fetches her bag. She returns to find Kate still dubbing at the traces of her sorrow on her face. “You need a wet wipe?”
“Let me get that for you.”
The tall intern leans forward, making her face readily accessible for her shorter sympathizer. She works in silence but she works fast. She’s been around tear washed faces enough to know her way around. When she finishes she takes a step back. “Perfect.”
“Thanks.” The mock smile returns.
“So, what is it? And just say it this time.”
Kate exhales deeply. “Is something wrong with me?”
“I don’t know…”
“You know. You just don’t want to tell me.”
She’s pressing for answers, turning from mother to confidant. The young lady turns and looks at herself in the mirror and from the look in her eyes it becomes instantly clear.
“Is it the boys?”
She looks down at the sink, a guilty shame expressing itself on her shoulders. Eventually she nods. “It’s stupid.”
“No, boys are stupid.”
“Is it because I’m tall?”
“Why would you say that?”
“I don’t know. I think it is. I can’t even wear heels…”
“You have heels?”
“Then wear them! Who says you can’t?”
“But they make me feel so tall and then no guys talk to me.”
“Who’s wearing the heels, you or them?”
“So wear them! If they don’t talk to you…fine, go talk to them! And don’t talk to these ones in the office. Go out there where you have fun or whatever.”
“Why not these ones?”
“Kate, boys are stupid. They don’t know when they have a good thing. You want to kill yourself because these boys won’t talk to you? These ones who just want an easy target?”
“They’re not like that.”
“Like what? Have you seen them when Susan walks by their desks?”
It was true. They always seemed on the verge of pouncing on Susan’s derriere every time she crossed the office floor. It didn’t help much that she was fashion conscious and dressed to turn heads. She set their blood on fire and had only recently found this out. Since then she walked by them with a male escort if she could bully some unfortunate soul into being her bodyguard or resorted to almost zooming past them which is difficult in a pair of stilettoes. This picture made light the heart to heart that had commenced in the ladies washroom.
“You don’t need approval from anyone. You’re beautiful just the way you are.”
“Besides, the right guy will come along. Maybe he’s even taller than you.”
“I doubt it.”
They smile at each other, reassuringly then walk back, Kate with a confident spring in her step.
She returns to her desk and puts the bag down. A smile has plastered itself on her face as she opens a document on her computer. Martin walks over.
“Yes! All sorted.”
“Cool. Have you checked your phone?”
She had completely forgotten. A glance at the cracked screen reminds her of her folly. She picks it up and presses the power button. Nothing happens. She presses it again, exerting more force on the area but still no result.
“It’s not coming on.”
Martin takes the phone off her and tries to turn it on. It also defies him and the blank black screen stares at the ceiling in oblivious bliss. She can feel herself inhale slowly but unable to exhale. Her chest and throat feel taut with tension. Her eyelids clap repeatedly in fluttered blinking. She almost knows what he’s going to say but hopes he says something else.
“I think it’s dead.”