Flash Fiction · Short Short Stories · Story Challenge · Writing


Turning – Word of the Day Challenge

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“How would you say that affected you?”

She had asked me before, but I couldn’t answer. I just wasn’t ready. After two years, our sessions had engendered a mutual trust. Now I was open in a way I never had been.

“I’ll never forget the time I was in her office, very early in my career. We were discussing one of my cases. Or rather not discussing. She had a tendency to prattle on about herself endlessly rather than discuss business. When I think back to all the time I had to listen to her talk about her dogs and birds, her named Land Rover, rail about her partner, laud her many talents….’I’m the queen of this or that’ ….she’d say for any subject she was discussing, it devastates me. Her mastery was unparalleled in her mind. In reality, she was a mediocre scientist and now a worse boss. She bullied everyone in the office, but especially her cadre of employees. She had instilled enough fear through her petulant, officious behavior that even managers maintained a civil distance. But we were left dangling, suffering under this bitch whom management never kept in check. No one came to our rescue. No. One. We were the one section of employees who were prisoners amongst an office of peers who benefitted from supportive bosses and every opportunity offered them to advance their careers. Instead we languished. And now, 25 years in, it was such a bitter pill to swallow. I had interviewed with her and begged God to not put me in her section if I got the job. But here I was.

“So she started to tell me about how she was moonlighting as a play critic. She had a previous career as a literature professor. She went on to say that she was very upset, because she had an irate playwright complaining about her recent review to the magazine’s editor. The play….I don’t remember what it was about… was some budding playwright’s first performed play. And my boss didn’t like it. So much so that she ripped into the play in her critique, but also unscrupulously published the ending of the play. The playwright had called my boss and said that she had no issue with her hating the play, but that she strongly objected to her publicizing the ending. That just wasn’t done. And it deterred people from coming to see the play. It would have lasting ramifications for her as she was starting her career. I sat there listening in shocked silence. I can’t even describe how disgusted I was by her spite and current indignation at being “attacked.” But what washed over me in that moment, as she was relishing the retelling of her story, was the realization of how hateful and vindictive she was. And clearly jealous of this playwright’s success, which she never had. My new boss. I truly felt as though I were in the presence of pure evil. A bloated, obese Jabba the Hutt now ruling my life. The hair on my arms stood up. And it was clear she was flexing that hatred for me as a warning. I left her office, shaken and depressed frankly, wondering how I was going to keep working at my “dream job.” The one she had made a nightmare from day one. But I slogged on and did my work thanklessly, believing in the mission and public service.”

My therapist looked at me sympathetically. I was silent. This was just one episode, and there were so many more to tell her. “But I guess the turning point for me is that she’s dead now. There’s not much left to my career, but I’m free. Finally free.”

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