Missy

Missy

A Story by meltingtuba
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A first day on the job gone terribly wrong.

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The internship program at Gemini looked great on the brochure.  I was so excited that I woke up at three o’clock on the morning of my first day.   I wore the most fashionable hat I could muster, the most professional shirt I could find and my most glamorous umbrella.  The door at Gemini was menacingly tall and was made of thick wood that you wouldn’t hear a knock through. Never the less, I tentatively rapped on the door with my good hand, noticing the curious way the door handle seemed to be made of a tortoise shell.  When no answer came, I rang the glassy bell furiously. The door swung open revealing a short man in a wheel chair. 

            “Hello!” his animated voice tinkled like the bell. “Welcome to Gemini! You must be…” he consulted his clipboard. “Missy.” His smile disappeared and the corners of his mouth fell to the bottom of his chin. He opened his mouth to say something but all that came out was a whimper.

            “Are you alright, sir?” I wondered whether I should have patted his shoulder.

            “Sorry.  Missy was the name of someone I knew. I’m Ben, by the way. Follow me, please.” Ben, whose voice had become not as twinkly, led me down a dark corridor and into a large, minimally lit room with cubicles gridding the room into quadrants.  “This is your office space.” Ben gestured to a round table with three laptops.  A woman with eyes so far apart that you could place a sandwich between them without her ever seeing sat by one of the computers and a gray skinned woman sat beside her, yakking into a square telephone. 

            Ben left which I thought was rather odd since he hadn’t introduced me to any of my co-workers but I sat down, doing my best to smile at the women across the table.  They didn’t smile back. They didn’t even look up from their devices.

            “Hi,” I tried to get in front of sandwich eyes’ line of vision. “I’m Missy.”

            Sandwich Eyes looked up, scrutinizing my face as if there was peanut butter smeared across it.  Her wide, unblinking eyes washed over my face. I had been feeling so confident and beautiful from the pep talk I had given myself that morning that the recollection of the way I really looked hurt more than usual.  I felt my perfectly shaped eyebrows turn into a ruffled unibrow, my petite nose turn into a bulbous honker and my long legs turn into stubby things that chafed as I walked.  Sandwich eyes’ straight-lipped stare became a disgusted sneer but within it I saw something else, something odd. She looked sad as if she was remembering something from a long time ago.  Letting a quick breath out through her nose she said, “I am Lori,” and went back to staring at her screen.

            The grey skinned woman was still talking on her phone but when I had said my name her voice wavered momentarily while she was speaking, then went back to its pursed, gum-smacking simper. Why did everyone have such a reaction to my name? I thought.   I flipped open my laptop deciding that I would try to talk to them more when the lunch break came.

            The hours ticked by and Lori and the other woman didn’t talk to me. Every few seconds I checked Photo Booth just in case I had gotten some mango stuck in my teeth from breakfast or some other problem with my face that made my new coworkers so disgusted with me but the only thing I could see were the same bags under my eyes and tallow skin that had been there yesterday.

            At lunch, I pulled out my cutsie polka dot lunch bag, my shirt down, my pants up and my courage together and flounced to the cafeteria.  I observed a young man in an eye-popping green suit prance to Lori’s table and say “Scoochie your toochie, girlfriend,” and slide onto the bench. Lori smiled at him and scooted over to give him more room.  I took a deep breath and mimicked his prance to the table.

            “Sca-ooch!” I squealed in my most playful tone, trying to be high energy and fun. To my dismay, the people at the table all turned to stare at me and then at each other. What had I done wrong?  Why didn’t “sca-ooch” work the same way as “scoochie?” I sat down at an empty table. My stomach was too full of upset to eat anything so I just sat there, staring at the chocolate iced cookies I had brought myself.  The rest of lunch passed with the speed of a turtle pumped full of tranquilizers. Every few minutes I would glance at the other tables and the way the people sitting at them interacted so effortlessly. My mind swam back to junior high lunchtimes when the cliques sat in tight circles in each classroom. I remembered walking into each room, first, checking to see if I looked like a loser in the mirror, and then trying to slip into the circle. I was always met with disparaging looks saying you don’t belong here stupid… fatty… ugly.  I always tacked on my own reasons why I was being excluded.  While in junior high I imagined things would be different as an adult. I imagined that adults didn’t act that way. I believed that they were always nice and respectful to each other.

            After lunch, I went back to work, typing each letter with determination not to think about the embarrassment I caused myself. I couldn’t even look at Lori. “I’ve been looking for a faux leather jacket for a while now. Do you know where I could find one?” she said. She was talking… to ME!

            “Well, I got mine-“ then I noticed that she was speaking into her odd square phone.  I kept making noise to try to make it seem like I hadn’t been talking to her. I put my lame Nokia phone to my ear and nodded vigorously saying, “Ok, see you later Sydney.” Sydney? I had to make something up.  I was very embarrassed.

            “Atlas B? That cheesy store?” Lori was saying. “Their stuff is all crap.” I stared down at my Atlas B shirt, pants and scarf and rushed to the bathroom. Grey ballet flats poked out from under the middle stall. I waited.  When they had left, my eyesight disappeared behind a watery sheen. The tears fell onto my shirt. I liked the clothes I wore, but that didn’t matter.  I wouldn’t shop at Atlas B again.  My distorted reflection in the statement mirror was the last thing I wanted to see.  I thought Lori looked weird when I first saw her but now I wanted more than anything to have her far apart eyes and her square jaw line. I threw my lunch in the garbage, feeling fat, ugly and annoying and locked myself in a stall.  I stood there, whispering to myself. “See you later Sydney.” Oh my gosh, I must have sounded so stupid.

The silence made me laugh. I was the stereotypical victim student that you saw in movies, the girl who always ended up eating a sandwich, crying in the bathrooms.  It was so ridiculous and pathetic.  I took deem breaths and sniffled a bunch. I couldn’t stand to be in there any longer. I came out of my stall, wiping my nose on the back of my hand.

I froze.  Lori was standing there, having just come in.  I tried to disguise the fact that I had just been crying and went to the sink to wash my hands.  Lori made a face as if I was something on the bottom of her shoe.

“Why do you hate me?” I burst out. I regretted it. Lori rolled her eyes.

“I don’t hate you,” she said coldly, turning her back to me. The irony of her words and body language were almost laughable. 

“Why…” I trailed off. Why are you so mean?  Why don’t I have enough confidence to ask you? Why is everything the way it is? “Why won’t you talk to me?”

“What do you mean? I’m talking to right now, aren’t I?”   

“What’s the deal with my name?  Why does everyone get so weird about things when I say it?” My voice echoed in the high ceiling bathroom. To my utter surprise, Lori turned and stared at me and then a tear dripped down her angular face. She just stood there, staring until I shifted, feeling awkward.

“Missy… Missy was the name of one of our coworkers…” Her eyes darted back and forth like a pendulum and she kept sucking in her cheeks like a fish.

“Was?” I inquired.

“She… died three months ago.” I didn’t want to prod Lori because she looked so fragile but I was intrigued. “Missy used to sit right at the computer that you sit at and-“ She closed her eyes and I wondered if they would open again.

“And?” I pressed. Then Lori began to tell me.  Missy had applied for an internship the previous year. She was a recent college graduate, not much older than myself.  Lori and Missy hit it off. After a few months, Lori began to notice some changes in Missy’s behavior. She started hanging out with weird people that wore odd clothes that were raggedy with brightly painted tribal beads hanging off their necks. They lived in a remote part of town that Lori had never heard of.  Sometimes, Missy would mention that one of her friends had gone missing.   She wouldn’t come to work for days and then come back looking tired and sick.  She stopped talking to Lori and one day when she didn’t show up for work, there was a call to the office.  Missy had died. The coroner declared she had been infected with the cordyceps fungus. 

“I guess I just didn’t want to talk to you because you remind me so much of her.” Lori snorted back tears. I wasn’t sure whether to pat her on the shoulder or be mad at her for being mean. 

“What do you want me to do about that?” I asked rudely.

“I’m sorry I’ve been treating you this way.” She was sorry. I could see it in her eyes.  “Do you… want to get coffee after work?” No.

“Yeah. I’d love to.” I smiled though I felt weird about it. It wasn’t like she would be able to look at me without thinking about her dead friend.

“Great. We’d better get back to work.”  Lori and I went back to fiddling with our computers.

At the end of the day, I was feeling a little better about myself although I was feeling very tired and feverish.

“I think I need to get home to lay down,” I told Lori. “I’d like to hang out some other time. We have the rest of the summer,” I coughed and scratched my eyes, which had suddenly become hot and itchy. 

“You’re face is all puffy.” Lori said, looking concerned. I felt my face. My lips were puffed almost to my nose and my nose was disappearing within the bloated confines of my cheeks.  My Nokia buzzed insistently in my pocket.  Meet us in the car, the text read.

“Jus’ allergies,” my tongue was swelling in my mouth.  I ran out to the banged up 1993 Toyota Camry and hopped in. The man in the driver’s seat adjusted the bright beads that hung around his neck and gunned the junky engine. 

“How was your day?” Sunshine asked. Her clothes were falling off her thin frame and a large moth had alighted on her shoulder.

“I’m not feeling so good.” Sunshine examined my face with her long fingernails scraping on my irritated skin.

“Oh dear,” Clover, who was driving swerved the car into the right lane, careening down the exit. Then he lurched off the road and into some bushes, throwing his door open and coming around to my side of the car.  The skin around my eyes had inflated so much that I could only see out of slits and when I felt someone grab my inflamed arms through the window, I couldn’t see who had grabbed me.
            “Clover? What’s going on?” I tried to break free but he dragged me out my open window and onto the mossy ground.  Then he let go and I heard the car door slam, the screech of the wheels and I was left alone on the ground.  It took me a moment before I realized that my limbs were moving of their own accord. I felt something crawling under my eyelids. I raised my hands to scratch but they didn’t move.  I started to scream as my body jerkily and uncontrollably to a nearby tree. 

“Help!”  I screamed as I began to scale the tree. Missy… Missy… Missy. The descriptions of the people that Lori had said were Missy’s friends matched those of my own.  Sunshine and Clover… Sunshine and Clover. The names flashed through my mind, unable to concentrate on anything.  I couldn’t see anything.  My head jerked back and forth, twisting frantically. A tearing pain ripped down the back of my neck as if something was trying to push its way out.  The pain exploded. Something began to slide like a worm from my spine.  The air around me smelled earthy like mushrooms and dirt. Missy. Missy. Something called me to climb higher but I could not. I fell and then I felt nothing, saw nothing, heard nothing, into nothingness.

© 2013 meltingtuba


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meltingtuba
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Added on April 18, 2013
Last Updated on April 18, 2013

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meltingtuba
meltingtuba

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