by Karen Singer
Chapter 48 (Thursday – week 7 Part 4 of 7)
“How’s that look?” the beautician asked as she held the mirror up behind Mel’s head so she could see the back of her hair.
“Good,” Mel replied. “That’s more of what I want.” She had just taken a few minutes to come in and get a long overdue haircut. Just trim the ends and neaten everything back up again. One day she would actually find the time to get the style changed, but this wasn’t that time.
Once she was out of the chair, she headed up to the cash register to pay. As she handed over her credit card, she noticed the nails on the girl who was the cashier. “Oh, that’s different,” she said as she stared at the girl’s nails. Pleased, the cashier held both her hands out so Mel could see her pretty nails. Mel finished paying for her haircut, but as she was walking back out to her car, she already had her cell phone in her hand and was dialing her usual nail salon.
Chad was once again back at work on the project. It was nice to have nothing to do once in a while, but overall, he’d much rather be busy. And the things he was doing right now were the kind of things he was particularly good at. While Robin may be a lot better than him with some of the art and design ideas, he was still more proficient in the technical areas.
Since they each had returned from lunch, Robin had yet to say a word to him or even acknowledge his existence. She hadn’t even spoken to him since earlier when she had assigned him the work to do. In a way, he was glad, but he’d still like her opinion on a few things once in a while. But asking her opinion was out of the question. He wasn’t about to make her angry by going over to talk to her for something as minor as that. Still, it would be nice to know if she had a problem with anything he was doing.
He finished another small portion of what he was working on and stopped for a minute. He didn’t know what Robin was doing in her cubicle on the other side of the wall, but for now, everything seemed quiet enough. He opened up his spreadsheet for keeping track of the bet. Still fifteen days to go before the testing. Almost down to two weeks. Once again, it felt like both a long time and a very short time to go.
In the time since the bet had started, everything had changed so much. Incredibly much! Things that seemed normal to him now were unthinkable such a short time ago. It was unbelievable how much his life had changed… how much he had changed. And what about when the bet was over, after he had won? What then? Would people ever see him as the same old Chad he used to be? Probably not. Maybe after a few years, but even then they would always remember him as he was now… a sissy. Like it or not, he would have to deal with that. He was forever branded with it now and there was no hiding it. The best he could hope for was to minimize what everyone knew… because he had a feeling his life would be far worse if certain things ever got out.
He put the computer curser into the column next to yesterday’s date. How long had he managed to hold back? The day before it had been six minutes, up a minute from the day before that. But yesterday he hadn’t managed to make it to six minutes. He had gotten close, but despite trying hard, he just hadn’t gotten there. So he was going backwards again. But only by a little bit. Maybe today he could make it to six minutes again… or better! He was trying again, but so far it was tough going. But then, the afternoon had just started so he was hopeful. Rather sadly, he filled in five and a half minutes next to yesterday’s date. Down another half a minute. He had to do better!
Without bothering to look at his reasons for winning the bet, he closed the spreadsheet again before Robin could see it.
Robin was doing nothing. The project was open on her computer, but she had done nothing else with it. She could hear the faint sounds of Sissy typing on his keyboard on the other side of the wall so she assumed he was working on the project. He better be! Actually, she was sorry to admit that it was he who was now keeping the project on track since she herself hadn’t done anything with it all day… and really hadn’t done much with it since it started. So as much as she hated to admit it, she was glad he was working on it because she still wasn’t capable.
The only thing her mind wanted to think about was the talk she had had with Gloria over lunch. That hadn’t worked out at all like she had hoped it would. The darn woman wouldn’t ever come out and say anything one way or another! It was so infuriating! Really, all Gloria did was to take her own words and twist them around and throw them right back at her again. Darn her! But in doing so, she now had new things to think about. New ways to look at everything.
She wanted to be in charge, but the best thing for someone in charge to do was to let those under them do the work. She thought about that. She had no doubt that Mel probably had him doing all sorts of work for her. So when she thought about things in that light, she felt much better about Sissy helping with the project now. Of course, that didn’t mean that he had to take credit for all of it… any of it for that matter. After all, shouldn’t the credit go to the one in charge? So Sissy working on the project now was a good thing. But that didn’t mean that she wouldn’t be putting her marks on it too!
And then there was the other thing. Her main problem. She wasn’t that kind of person! She wasn’t a bad person at all! And she didn’t want to be! But damn him, Sissy didn’t fit into any of those little boxes that Gloria had talked about. He was outside of… everything! She couldn’t deal with him like… like… like a normal human being. He was… weird! Or different. Maybe they amounted to the same thing.
So was she being a bad person if she ordered him around, made him suck his thumb, made him sit under her desk? She didn’t want to be a bad person. She didn’t want to be cruel. But was it cruel… as far as he went anyway? She’d never even consider it with anyone else… anyone – normal. But, he wasn’t normal. So was it cruel?
With a groan, she realized she was thinking in circles and wasn’t really getting anywhere. Or at least she wasn’t making any decisions. Frustrated, she tried to force herself to go back to work again. But even though she somewhat succeeded at first, a little while later, thoughts of the items she had in her big bag began creeping into her head. And they were difficult to ignore. Was she bad? She didn’t want to be.
“So how did it go?” Mel asked as soon as Gloria picked up her phone. She had tried several times to reach her, but their schedules weren’t always compatible.
“I can’t tell you that,” Gloria replied.
“I’m taking you up on your offer to pay for the consultation, so I’m not allowed to tell you.”
“That’s not fair!”
“Sorry, but that’s the way it is. I can tell you though that everything she talked about was things you can probably guess. But I’m not saying anything further about it!”
Things she could guess? Mel figured she could guess a lot of things. But she knew nothing. And knowing Gloria, she wouldn’t even tell her if she needed to be worried about anything or not. But then she had to understand, she herself had her own non-disclosure rules she had to follow. Gloria was not going to be any help as far as Robin went. “I understand,” she finally replied – although disappointedly. She switched subjects. “So how about tonight? Are you going to hypnotize him again for me?”
“Do you still need me to?”
“Definitely. And this time, I really need to know how long he’s holding back – front and rear! It’s important. Very!”
“Since I told you I would keep doing it, then I will. No problem.”
“Great! We’ll see you at our regular time.”
“Good,” Gloria replied. “See you then.”
“Oh! Gloria,” Mel said before she could hang up her phone. “This Sunday, I’m going to try to have another little get-together at my place. Sissy is cooking – and he really is good. Won’t you come this time?”
“Sorry Mel. I told you before, not till this bet thing is over between you two. Then maybe I’ll think about it.”
“Okay, I just thought I’d ask – again.”
“It’s okay. You know I’m just trying to stay out of things.”
“Yeah, I understand.”
As Gloria hung up her phone, she briefly thought about one thing she would never admit to… she could have steered Robin in any of several directions today, but the one she decided to choose was the one that she felt would be best for everyone – including Mel.
Mel hung up her phone. Gloria still didn’t want to come to dinner. Or was it more like she didn’t want to see Sissy in his natural setting… under her thumb.
The knocking at her door broke her train of thought. “Come in, Andrea,” she called.
Andrea entered with her inevitable stack of papers. “Here’s the latest for you,” she said as she set the stack on Mel’s desk.
“Thanks, Andrea,” Mel replied offhandedly. Andrea was almost out the door when she stopped her though. “Andrea…”
“I’m trying to plan another little dinner at my place Sunday night. Do you want to come?”
Andrea suddenly giggled. “And get to see what you’re doing with Sissy? You bet!”
Mel smiled. “Good! Plan on it then!”
“I will,” Andrea replied. “Thanks.”
One down, Mel thought. Now she just had to see if Sandy and Cassie could come – which she was fairly certain they would. Those two were usually looking forward to their Sunday dinners now.