Choice Words

2016-10-9-09-34-51

“You shouldn’t say things like that,” my mother warned me a few days ago.

“Mom, I’m just telling the truth. To quote Prince, I hate him like a day without sunshine,” I replied. The “him” I was referring to was my insensitive, egotistical boss. Fortunately, tax season would be over soon and I’d be able to return to my regularly scheduled programming called life. This should have been the year I found my own clients and worked from home, but I opted for what I thought would be the safer route; working in this office just one more season to guarantee my income. However, that’s become an issue. Every season is the last season. The business cards have been designed and collecting digital dust for the past two years. The only thing left to do to them is print them. Word had spread about my skills as a tax preparer. I’m not just a basic tax preparer, no sir. I surpassed the basic income tax course and decided to pick up IRS publications for casual reading. I do have more interesting things to do with my time, such as volunteering and tutor students in foreign languages, but nothing keeps the mind stimulated quite like tax code.

“Kerri, I have always told you that the power of life and death is in the tongue. Watch what you say.”

“Ok, Mom, I’m sorry! He just has this way of finding every single nerve in my body and totally destroying them, piece by piece. I’m just saying that if push came to shove and I saw him drowning, I’d probably go make a sandwich.”

I had nothing but negative feelings towards this man since the day I met him and he insulted me because I didn’t like the type of pizza he ordered for the office welcome party. He was at the office everyday to watch over his investment and to scrutinize every little move made by anyone. It seems like it would’ve made more sense for him to run the office himself, but, alas, he only owned it. He didn’t have a clue as to how to start even the simplest tax form. If I was on time, then I was late. When I shared a story I’d heard in the news about a woman suffering from postpartum depression committing suicide, he laughed. He belittled the work I did as a tutor because I don’t earn six figures doing it. I tried my hardest to find something about him that I liked, but I had no success. Thank heavens this was the last week!

I mustered up enough strength to walk through the front door of the office and clock in. All electronic devices were on. The coffee was brewing and the mood was set. It was time to play the waiting game for the first client of the day. An older gentleman entered about a half hour after I opened up shop.

“Good morning. How may I help you today?” I asked as cheerfully as possible. The reply I received was unexpected. The gentleman stared at me strangely. I repeated my question.

“Are you okay?” He asked me.

“I’m fine. Is there anything I can do to help you?”

“I think I’ll go somewhere else,” He said backing away from me with the confused expression still on his face.

“Sir, what’s wrong?” I asked him, but he was already gone. I wasn’t sure what I had said, or not said to scare him off. The phone rang.

“All American Tax Services, this is Kerri. How may I help you?” I answered.

“Hello? Hello? Is anybody there?” a female voice responded.

“All American Tax Services. How may I help you?” I repeated.

“Helloooo?” The voice said. A few moments passed before she hung up. What the heck was going on?

Finally, my coworker Tina showed up. She looked a wreck and spoke frantically.

“Oh my gosh, Kerri! I can’t believe it!”

“What?” I asked.

“He’s dead! He drowned! I can’t believe Chase is dead!”

“What?! Wait—what happened? How did he drown?”

Tina stopped pacing and looked at me. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, I am okay! Why does everyone keep asking me that? What’s wrong with everyone today?”

“Kerri! Stop!” She came to me and grabbed my flailing arms. “I’m not sure what’s going on with you, but you need to take a seat. You keep waving your arms around and mouthing words, but you’re not saying anything.”

“What do you mean I’m not saying anything? What the hell are you talking about? Are you okay?”

Tina looked me in the eye for several seconds before she responded. “I’ll stay here the rest of the day and take care of business around here. You can go home and get some rest.”

I wasn’t sure what kind of game everyone was playing. There was a joke of some sort that I wasn’t in on. I totally missed the punchline. As I drove home I dialed my mother’s number. When she answered she responded the same way that everyone else has been. I couldn’t understand it. I was speaking as clear as day, but everyone acted like they couldn’t hear me. Then to find out my boss was dead! And that he drowned? There was no other word to describe the day other than confusion. Pure, unadulterated confusion. I sent text messages to everyone I worked with to find out the details behind Chase’s death. It was a freak accident at the swimming pool at his home. I didn’t know what to say or if I could say anything. All that kept going through my mind was the conversation I had had with my mother earlier in the week. I mean, I disliked the man, true enough, but I didn’t really want him to die. I just wanted him to go somewhere…and never come back. How was I supposed to get through this day and every day moving forward without people being able to hear me? I had finally found my calling in life where I could be heard in my own way and now nobody could hear me.

My alarm clock went off. I woke up and checked the time. I noticed the date was still the same. I guess I had dreamed it all. I went to the office and began my normal routine. An older gentleman entered the office. The same gentleman who was there the day before. I greeted him and he looked at me strangely. He turned to leave after a few moments of me trying to talk to him. The phone rang and Tina burst through the door saying she couldn’t believe what had happened. I tried to get her attention, asking her questions, but she wouldn’t respond to me. She kept pacing back and forth until she saw my arms flailing about. She grabbed me and stared at me. Not again. I’m so sorry. Can’t anybody hear me say I’m sorry? I collapsed in her arms and heard myself let out a loud cry. I’m not sure if she heard that, but tears are universal.

“Shhhh. Don’t be sorry. It was an accident,” Tina tried to soothe me.

I looked up at her.

“You can hear me?” I asked hopefully. She lay my head on her shoulder and rubbed my back. “I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. I just want my life back. I just want my life back.” Tina remained quiet. I continued to cry. I just want my life back.

 

 

© LeTara Moore 2016

Punishment

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. nruhwald
    Jul 23, 2016 @ 21:24:05

    This is really interesting. I like stories like this, about ordinary life suddenly becoming crazy in a metaphorical kind of way. Who among us doesn’t feel like we’ve lost our voice, our power, or even our grasp of time on occasion?

    Reply

    • LeTaraWrites
      Jul 23, 2016 @ 21:55:22

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! I really want to show how we can jeopardize ourselves with the things we say and have in our hearts. I hope I was able to get that across with this story.

      Reply

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