Girl in the World

Submitted into Contest #58 in response to: Write a story about someone feeling powerless.... view prompt

7 comments

Drama

The IT department had been uncooperative. She’d called for an explanation as to why they couldn’t make the programming change that was needed, and they’d first said that they couldn’t. They simply couldn’t. It was impossible. And by the way, did she think that they just snapped their fingers and things magically happened? They didn’t, they were busy, and the message was hard coded into the computer. So it couldn’t be done.

           None of this was useful for purposes of explaining it to her supervisors. At first, she’d simply emailed back, “Thank you, just thought I’d check. Have a great weekend!” but she found herself backspacing over it. She was tired. Tired of fixing three little bowls of cereal for the kids, tired of fishing the marshmallows out of the youngest’s bowl, because she didn’t like to eat anything blue, and marshmallows were blue. Well, at least the diamond-shaped ones were. She tried to remember when she’d been a person.

           For a moment, she lapsed into a reverie, thinking back to her days at the firm. She’d been one of two hosts of the client, and the client had mistaken her for a spouse of one of the partners. She’d chuckled it off. Bad manners to do anything otherwise. Besides, it wasn’t her to make a fuss. She certainly didn’t want to be someone who paraded around her profession. She’d always thought those women were ridiculous. Lots of people were lawyers, both men and women. It was almost insulting to her sex to act as though being a woman was an achievement. So, she’d smiled and poked fun at herself, “people think I went to law school for the J.D., but actually, I went for the M.R.S.” It did the trick. The guests had laughed and instantly thought she was the life of the firm. But when it came time to assign the project, it had gone to her partner.         Now she’d employ the same tactic, humor, dim-wittedness and charm, with the IT Department. If she wanted to try to solve the problem, which she did, this is what it would take. It wouldn’t work in an email. She picked up the phone. “TGIF, guys,” she said brightly. “You know my supervisors will want an explanation as to why the change can’t be programmed.” She waited for the sympathetic laugh, but there was none. Instead, a diatribe. IT was busy. Surely she recognized that. She just needed answers to a few questions, though. She was new to this. IT had so much expertise. Everyone relied upon them. She knew how hard they worked. Really, everyone was at the mercy of IT, and couldn’t they educate her just a little?

      They could, as it turned out. Grudgingly. That was step one. Step two was to patch in the IT worker who actually understood the system. Twenty minutes passed during which she patiently listened to the explanation of basics that she already knew. “Maybe if you draw a picture, it’ll help you understand,” the IT woman had said, patronizingly. She wanted to ask about the project, and why it couldn’t be done as she suggested, but she couldn’t finish a sentence. She waited again patiently. She spoke politely. “So, what do you think about trying it this way?” she finally asked. There had been a pregnant pause. “Not this year,” was the response. Maybe next. She hung up the phone.

      At least it was a long weekend. She had been castigated for a mistake that was not a mistake. But it came from her superior, so she had apologized. But she was still bitter. She was now on her way from work to Hattie’s for a drink. She had not wanted to go, but she would be expected. It was antisocial not to go. And it was hard enough to fit in with the stay-at-homes without snubbing their party. At Hattie’s the other women were already drinking hard seltzers and chatting about the start of school. It was quiet when she opened the door. “Hi everybody,” she called out.

      A cold, wet seltzer can was thrust into her hand. She declined. Oh. The others rolled their eyes. Doesn’t drink. Not so, she did on occasion, just didn’t feel like it right now. Right, they said. More eye rolls. A copper mug was thrust in her hand where the hard seltzer had been. She’d love this, they assured her. A Moscow Mule. She should just try it. God, lighten up a little. She took a sip and put it down.

     “Don’t you love it?”

    “Yes,” she lied.

     At home, the family would be wanting dinner, and she herself was starving. It was chicken marsala. The children moaned. They hated turkey. It wasn’t turkey, she pointed out. It was chicken. They hated that, too. She had drunk the Moscow Mule and now she was disappointed in her weakness. She had been wanting to stop drinking alcohol and had been abstinent for two months before the party. She looked at the chicken dejectedly. It had a golden, crispy sheen, but she ate it without relish. The others were grumbling, save her husband, who had inhaled it. Could they have a PB & J? Could she fix it? And remember, not the chunky kind of PB. And one more thing, please don’t use a lot of jelly like she always did, that ruins it.

*         *         *

      Saturday. A new day. This was her day to work out. This was definitely what she needed, a day in which to run her problems away, out across the fields, by herself, listening to music. 

“Oh, I’m just a girl, living in captivity

Your rule of thumb makes me worrisome

Oh, I’m just a girl, what’s my destiny?

What I’ve succumbed to is making me numb. . .”

Over the sounds of the music, she saw an older man approaching, jogging the other way. He smiled. “Atta girl,” he said. “Way to keep those legs in shape!”

     “Fuck you,” she said under her breath.

      “Huh?” he said.

    “Thank you,” she called over her shoulder.

When she got home, she had to go to the bathroom. The door was closed. She could hear the oldest behind it, showering. “Tell me when you’re done in there,” she called. There was no response. She hopped from foot to foot. She banged on the door again. “Almost done?”

      Half an hour later, she emerged from the shower, dripping wet. She put on an old pair of shorts and a t-shirt. No makeup, she decided. Water pooled onto her shoulders from her wet hair. She hadn’t even brushed it. She sat down before her computer. The white rectangle was filled with possibility. The white rectangle had potential. She could still hear the words of the music from her playlist echoing through her head.

I'm just a girl

I'm just a girl in the world

That's all that you'll let me be . . . 

September 05, 2020 19:47

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7 comments

Pragya Rathore
03:51 Sep 06, 2020

I loved this one, Amy! I love how realistic, simple and sweet this story was. I can really sympathise with how terrible she feels when no one takes her seriously. Great job! :)

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Jonathan Blaauw
09:30 Sep 06, 2020

Pragya, you beat me to it! I'm usually the first to comment on Amy's stories... You may have won this battle, but the war is far from over. I will prevail next time, wait and see. Your comments are always so encouraging, I just hope you're squeezing in some writing time too. Because we're waiting for a new one...

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Pragya Rathore
13:38 Sep 06, 2020

My apologies for breaking your record! I'm sure Amy doesn't mind. :p And I can't believe that you're saying that about my comments, when yours can surely make anyone's day. I was busy with some college assignments and procrastination, but I hope I'll get one done soon. Thanks for asking, it means a lot! :)

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Jonathan Blaauw
16:06 Sep 07, 2020

I only comment as the story demands. I'm actually asking you to write more for selfish reasons - because I enjoy reading your work so much. Amy should also write more, actually. What's with this "real life" stuff? So annoying. Let's form a lottery syndicate so we can get rich and write full time!🤑

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Amy DeMatt
22:45 Sep 15, 2020

Haha!! Love it, guys! Thanks so much for reading and for the comments. Busy few weeks here, looking forward to catching up on my reading!!

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Jonathan Blaauw
09:28 Sep 06, 2020

This is quite excellent! You’ve captured the common feeling of powerlessness in an everyday way perfectly. I think we can all relate to that, feeling dragged along largely against our will in a life that feels largely governed by other people. Along with powerless commonly comes hopeless despair which is where I thought this story was going. I was actually worried because while I was reading the jogger part I could see the end was coming and I couldn’t possibly imagine how you would bring closure to the story is the few remaining words. I n...

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Amy DeMatt
22:58 Sep 15, 2020

@Jonathan Blaauw: thank you! Yes, writing is such a great escape for me at times. My meager thanks doesn't do your comment justice. I really can't tell you how great it is to have you reading. Right now, though, I'm really eager to read your work, so off to catch up!

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