See Through Me

Submitted into Contest #166 in response to: Start your story with someone saying “I quit!” ... view prompt


Fiction Funny

The fateful words had just rolled off her tongue, it was too late to take them back. “I quit” is a pretty hard thing to erase once it has been said.

Sarah had worked for the worst boss in the world for what seemed like forever. She was condescending, aggravating, and most of all, impossible to talk to.  Sarah had many complaints about having to work for Betty, but she didn’t want to lose her job. It had taken too long to find a placement.

Oh, how she longed to tell that sorry excuse for a boss exactly what she thought of her. Then again, it was nice to have fresh food on the table. Not worrying about where her next rent payment was coming from would take her stress level down (she hoped). Sarah held her anger and contempt deep inside, longing for the day when her music career took off and she no longer had to put up with Betty.

She enjoyed Betty’s vacation so much that she longed for the days when their shifts happened to be on different days. It went like this for many weeks, until Sarah did anything she could to stay out of Betty’s way, going above and beyond to be in a different part of the store. It was a small store, though, and there were only so many places a tall girl could hide.

Sarah watched the clock as if it would move faster if she stared at it long enough, but as jedi mind tricks only happen in sci-fi, this did nothing at all. She wondered how much longer she could control her temper and restrain herself from lashing out verbally. She couldn’t afford to be fired, but daily her level of frustration rose. She knew she would eventually lose her cool in some way, but the longer she could hold on, the longer money would flow into her depleted savings account. Maybe some day she could say the words she longed to express, say to hell with the consequences and walk out. Not today, she told her inner demons. I’ll let you out to play some other day, at a more convenient time.

Every day became this a tournament of willpower. Biting her tongue instead of her nails gradually turned into a coping skill. She felt a migraine coming on at the end of a shift, and her teeth ached from clenching them so tightly shut. These situation don’t go on forever, and Sarah had faith in her ability to cope. That’s how she ran under the radar years before, in her abusive Dad’s place. Pretend to be invisible, don’t make waves, and wait out the storm. The sun will shine again on the other side of hell.

Sarah was so good at being invisible that soon the entire staff of the store walked by her, never saying a word, just as if she wasn’t even there. One day she decided that staying off Betty’s radar wasn’t worth feeling so lonely. She walked up to a co-worker who had been hired soon after she had and said hello. Pat walked right by, just kept on working, and at first Sarah was puzzled. She had thought that they were close. But when the same thing happened over and over, she began to realize the problem wasn’t with her co-workers.

Sarah ran to the restroom, tears flowing down her cheeks.  The emotions threatened to burst like a popped balloon. What was wrong with her? Had she dropped into some parallel dimension where she had ceased to exist? She sat on the toilet, drying her tears with some tissues, when she heard she door open. It was Pat and Andrea, and they were talking about her. She threw all her reservations out the window, eavesdropping on them shamelessly.

They were both saying what a shame it was that Sarah had disappeared without a trace. Pat remarked to Andrea, “This is strange, but I swear I can still smell her perfume sometimes, and it feels like someone is there. But when I turn and look, there’s no one.” Strange was probably the mildest word the victim would have thought to use.  How can they both think I’ve disappeared mysteriously when I’m right here?

Sarah flushed the used tissue down the toilet after they had left. Then she walked to the sink to splash water on her face and wash her hands. When she glanced at the spot her reflection should have been, the mirror was blank. Of course, she knew things like this never happened. But the evidence was right in front of her. Fainting dead away seemed like a distinct possibility, and she to regain her balance and her common sense simultaneously.

She marched out the bathroom door (after a 10-minute break to help steady her nerves) and decided to take advantage of the unusual but well timed event. Whatever had happened to her was a golden opportunity. She marched up to Betty, getting farther into her personal space than she would have dared to do before, and never would again. She let all her pent-up rage out in a hail of insults and told Betty what she had thought of her from day one.

The look of disbelief on Betty’s face stopped Sarah dead in the middle of an extremely clever but low-brow innuendo. Everyone had stopped what they were doing to stare at her in shock, disbelief, and horror. Betty, to her credit, didn’t cry, slap Sarah, or cause any scene at all. But Sarah could see the hurt in her eyes. She had never felt so embarrassed or ashamed in her entire life.

She needed the job, but she also needed the respect of the other workers, something she had lost in a weak, weird moment. What was going on became apparent when she happened to glance at the calendar kept behind the register. The date was unmistakable, and Sarah felt like an idiot. Today was April first! The glass in the mirror of the restroom was only glass, not reflective at all. Feeling like the biggest moron, she followed Betty down the hall.

“Please don’t hate me! Now that I know it was only a prank, I see the humor. Going from the new girl that the whole staff ignored, to the girl they didn’t see at all! It must have seemed a clever idea when those jerks out there proposed it. Sorry for hurting you, boss. I quit. You and the rest will never have to see or hear from me again.”

Sarah felt like the biggest jerk and the dumbest blonde in the same body. Of course, she regretted every word she had said, not for the loss of her job, but because she hurt a friend’s feelings. Despite all the friction between them, she never intended the situation to go this far.

She could still see the tears in the older woman’s eyes, just before she turned to walk away. The next thing Sarah heard was the obnoxious crowing of the neighbor’s rooster. She opened her eyes, turned her head, and saw the time. The clock showed 6:30. She was more puzzled than when the mirror refused to show her reflection. 

When she realized the whole ugly scene from yesterday had been just a bad dream, she decided that maybe Betty wasn’t as hard to work with as had previously imagined. After all, my dream self said worse things to her than she has ever said to me.

Sarah drove to work with a whole new attitude.  She greeted all with a smile and a hug, especially the much-maligned Betty. She vowed never to let her temper control her again, (not even in her wildest dreams). Work was a happier place to go every day, and even the urge to quit had passed. Hard to feel embarrassed when it was only a dream, but she felt that way just the same. Just goes to show that your reality is only as real as you allow it to be.

October 01, 2022 10:53

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Rabab Zaidi
14:20 Oct 08, 2022

I loved it ! What a wonderful twist !


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Aeris Walker
01:20 Oct 02, 2022

Oo nice twist! I wasn’t expecting that. I liked your story and found this section to be some of your best writing—the active descriptions really pull you in and make you feel a part of the story: “The emotions threatened to burst like a popped balloon. What was wrong with her? Had she dropped into some parallel dimension where she had ceased to exist? She sat on the toilet, drying her tears with some tissues, when she heard she door open.” Any occasion where you can substitute “was” or “were” for a stronger verb (like “threatened” or “ceas...


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