Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Anyone else might have gone over the edge. The only reason she didn't was because of her ability to accept the impossible and because of her faith in her own reasoning. Incredible was the fact that it was impossible to count the number of people she had unknowingly been up against. The objectives came to her first, and then the identities.

Since almost the beginning, she asked a lot of questions. Not one of her co-workers answered, at least not in speaking. They looked at her as though she were confused, but then she began to recognize them online. They answered her questions online. The topics, the words came from conversations they had. Just the same, she never thought they would have stolen her picture disk or her flash drive. The sex was a joke, right?

Her idea to try writing something in a way that sounded like she did not desire the 'identity' who was actually John, this idea might work - if all of this stuff is real. What could it hurt to try it?

The next day at work, John barely made eye contact with her when they were eating lunch. Nick, however, sat down right beside her, started talking like they had never stopped. Like nothing weird had ever happened. That, in itself, was weird. No, she disbelieved, This can't be right. I've known Nick very well for years. And his wife! Had Tina been avoiding her? Upset with her? Maybe there had been looks after all, and I just dismissed them because I knew there was no reason for her to be upset with me. Damn. What if I'm wrong? I can't tell anybody about this. These are all Christian, God-fearing folks. Kenni's always telling me I need Jesus in my heart. Shelly and Hannah aren't as open, but they always invite me to church. Merry, with an 'e' not an 'a,' nevermind. Not a good example. Or maybe she is.

Merry, with an 'e,' was always decked out in clothes and jewelry, but so negative about the trainees. And their families. Merry knew everyone, had been around for a long time. Three times as long as she had been there. Merry was down on Rashad's mom every chance she got. Down on all three of her trainees, Arthur, Alan, and Simone, who went with Merry for work on graphing presentations. She tried to help Merry by giving them yellow notepads to take notes on, by spending extra time of her own when she could, but Merry still complained they weren't doing their jobs. That they weren't trying to learn.

The only trainee who ever stayed with her longer than a year, Malory, Merry used to make fun of the woman all the time. She tried to keep Malory away from Merry as much as possible. Finally, she was able to keep Malory in her work station full time.

In fact, Merry had always complained about the trainees that went with her. Two years earlier, she didn't like one in particular. "The 'poor child' (everyone is a 'child' at my age) is probably gay, if you know what I mean," Merry had said often. She would respond to Merry, "If he is, then it is none of our business. And if he is, then won't he need more confidence with what he will have to deal with?"

A few times, she had gone, with a couple of other trainers, to talk with Syd about Merry's lack of tolerance. For one thing, they didn't like hearing it. They also worried that the trainees overheard or sensed Merry's attitude. Because of confidentiality, they had no way of knowing what, if anything, was done. Merry did seem to tone things down in front of the trainees, though.

Merry wasn't the only one, however, who talked about Elliot being gay. When he advanced, some of his new trainers talked about him. One of them, Natasha, had a problem with others besides Elliot even. Natasha brought up Olivia's friend, who didn't even work for the company, during a break one day. This guy, Natasha said, was even around kids at church.

Offended and pissed, but calm, she told Natasha that she had friends who were gay, did not care who were Olivia's friends anyway, and asked point blank "What does that have to do with us and work?" Natasha explained that those just weren't good values. "Not everyone has closed-minded values," she replied and walked off.

Now that she was in the middle of unraveling a tangled up web that had more loose ends than a bicycle tire had spokes, some of the strands, she noticed, were not pretty at all. They were, dishearteningly enough, rather ugly. She had the feeling that things were going to get even uglier before she was through.

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