“BEEP BEEP BEEP!” The alarm went off at 5:30 AM. But Ember had been losing so much sleep lately that her hand automatically flew out from under the covers and turned it off, with not one
coherent thought going on inside her tired head. Ember had lately been worrying that her college law degree had gone to waste. Jobs were scarce, as she had quickly found out. The rent was due, two
months ago, and she was sure her milk shouldn’t have the same consistency as cottage cheese.
Embers mother, Delores, had offered to loan Ember some money, until she got back on her feet, but Ember hated accepting money from anyone but a bank. In the last year she’d been forced to take out
two separate loans, just to keep her apartment and pay for bills.
An hour and a half after her alarm had gone off, the phone started ringing. Ember groaned and angrily snatched the phone off the hook.
“Hello???” She angrily snapped out.
“You do know what time it is don’t you?” Her best friend, Claire Verlindin responded. Ember looked at the bright red letters on her clock that read: 7:02. She quickly shot up in bed and started to
take off her pajamas.
“Oh shit! I must have turned my alarm off again. Damnit, damnit, damnit!”
“I’ll try to cover for you, but hurry up. Mr. Donnellson is expecting you in half an hour!”
“I know. Oh shit Claire, this is the only job I know of, I’m counting on this one!”
“Well stop talking and go get ready, it’s a 20 minute drive. Now go!”
“Okay, thanks! Bye!” she said, hopping around trying to get out of her pajama bottoms.
Ember sprinted to her bathroom, quickly rinsed last nights sleep off her body, then toweled off. And as all women do, she took a few minutes to look at her naked body in the mirror. She had never
considered herself pretty, but she had to admit that she was at least as good looking as the average woman. Perhaps even a tiny above average, but not pretty. She knew her breasts were too small,
but she’d given up caring. Her butt was bigger than most, and something she and also stopped caring about. What was the point in worrying about something you couldn’t change? She asked
herself. She was taller than most girls and stood at a height of 5’10”. She had often been criticized on middle school, and called mean names because her growth spurt had kicked in a little faster
than all the other girls and had kept going. But that too, she had also learned to accept. Besides, she told herself, I can reach shelves that they can’t.
Ember quickly applied a coat of mascara to her long lashes and a coat of her usual red lipstick to her full, but not too full lips. She was never a fan of putting on a lot of make-up, and so she
was already finished with that part. She pulled on her lacy red underwear, the cute but comfortable ones, and her padded red bra. Then she pulled on her panty hose, her black pencil skirt, and put
on her favorite red blouse. The blouse pulled in at the middle, showing off the tiny waist that lay beneath and had a neckline that revealed only the promise of more to come, without actually
revealing anything. Ember has always been a modest woman, and was not a fan of exposing yourself to any man that wanted to look down your shirt. Since Mark, nobody has seen me exposed and nobody
has touched me. But she was not going to dwell on the past today. She had a job to go to! She quickly tugged on her form-fitting calf-high boots and sprinted out the door.
It wasn’t until she had gotten in her Impala that she realized she had not done anything to her hair. In fact, it was still in the curlers she had put in the night before. As she was driving to the
office, she began to slowly, one by one, take out all the curlers. When she was done she used the comb she kept in her purse to straighten out the extra frizzies on top, then pulled a bit of hair
to the right side and put in two bobby pins. She then tousled her bangs and swung them to the right ride as well. She quickly parked in front of the brick building that looked more like a
house than a law firm. It probably had been someone’s house a long time ago.
Ember stepped out of the car, once again breathing in the icy cold Michigan air. Carefully, very carefully she stepped out of the car for fear of her boots slipping out from under her on the thick
ice below her, as the parking lot hadn’t been iced yet. Her heavy briefcase slipped down her shoulder and she pushed it back up with a natural ease that only comes with repetition. She looked down
at the elegant, silver wristwatch on her slim wrist. “Oh shit.” 7:42. She ran towards the front door, sliding half the way.
“Oh thank god.” Claire breathed out from behind her receptionist desk, “I was starting to think you wouldn’t make it in time.”
“I’m still fifteen minutes late.” Ember replied, breathless.
“After you speak to Mr. Donnellson I’ll give you a personal tour of the office.” Claire offered.
“Sounds good. That is, unless he fires me for being late on the first day.”
“Oh, he’s not that bad. Plus, he knows you’re my friend so you’re automatically entitled to an extra chance.”
“I don’t know.”
“I do. Now go wait over there,” she said, pointing to the tiny waiting room, which looked to have once been the parlor room.
“Yes ma’am.” Ember said, giving Claire an enthusiastic military salute.
As Claire picked up the phone to notify Mr. Donnellson that Ember had arrived, she took her place in the waiting room, picked up one of the magazines and began reading. Two sentences later Claire
called her name and let her know she could go on up to Mr. Donnellson’s office. As Ember walked up the narrow stairs her boots made a click clack sound that announced her presence. She reached the
top of the stairs and admired the cherry wood floors.
The layout on the second floor was much like the typical three bedroom house, with all three bedrooms being turned into offices, the master bedroom belonging to the man who started the firm, Mr.
Samuel Thomas. The smallest room, being next to Mr. Thomas’s office belonged to his secretary, the sixty-two-year-old who owned numerous cats and never spoke to anyone but Mr. Thomas, but she knew
The room Claire had directed her to was the last one at the end of the pale blue hallway. It was very quiet and the click clack of Embers boots was the only noise to be heard other than the sound
of someone typing away on a keyboard in an office she passed. Every door of the three offices was closed. Ember suddenly felt a little frightened. Why am I scared? There is no reason to be
scared…well, other than the fact that there is a chance I might be fired on my first day working here. Which means I wouldn’t have the rent, or groceries, or electricity, or running water.
Ember took faster, more powerful steps down the hallway, as she usually did when she was scared or angry. She came to the last door and softly knocked. “Come in.”
The first thing she saw was a desk in the middle of a creme-yellow room. There was a dusty, and quite ugly, fake plant in the far left corner of the room. Towards the back of the room was another
door, which was propped open by yet another ugly fake plant. The name plate outside the office said: “James Donnelson, Attorney at Law.” She quickly walked in his office.
“Good morning.” Ember said with a smile, hoping she looked convincing enough for him to keep her.
“Oh, so you did decide to come to work,” Donnellson remarked in an obviously annoyed tone, as he set some papers down on his mahogany wood desk.
“Yes sir. I’m sorry. I was just running a little late this morning. It will not happen again.” Ember knew her chances weren’t looking good and silently prayed to the universe for Mr. Donnellson to
keep her on board as his secretary. Please let me get keep this job!
“It better not. Because if it does again…” he foreshadowed he termination.
“Yes sir, I understand.” I’m going to need a louder alarm clock, She noted in her mind to stop by Walmart on her way home that night and get a new alarm clock with the last ten dollars she
had been saving for her a celebratory dinner with Claire.
“Now, let’s get down to business. Your desk is the one you saw outside over there,” he said, gesturing over to the desk she had seen on her way in. “Feel free to jazz it up and whatnot. The last
secretary was not much for decorating, as you can probably see.”
As Mr. Donnellson started to go into a rant about how unfriendly and mean the old secretary was, Ember got a good look at her new boss. The man was a contradiction. His very expensive, black suit,
blue paisley tie, clean, shaven face, and Italian leather shoes dripped sophistication, importance and responsibility. But his bright blue-green eyes, light brown, bed-head hair and beaten, old,
leather bracelet all licked at fun and adventure. He was about six foot exactly and wore cologne that smelled of musk and mystery.
“What is your name again,” Mr. Donnellson asked.
“Ember Forbes, Mr. Donnellson.”
“Alright Ms. Forbes,”
“Call me Ember, please.”
“Alright, Ember.” Mr. Donnellson corrected and walked over to her. He very lightly reached up to her hair and pulled something out.
“I think you forgot something.”
Ember looked down and in his hand he was holding one of her hair curlers.
Later that night Ember set her alarm clock, crawled into bed and cuddled into her covers. That night her head was filled with nightmares about her stepfather, Mark and the things he used to do to
her. The same things Ember had sworn to herself would never happen again.
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