Debbie Graber

That Which Is Inevitable

           Mary Margaret struts towards Ron’s cubicle in a pair of backless high heeled sandals. She read in Self magazine years ago, back when she was still reading Self magazine, that high heels make a person’s legs look longer. Mary Margaret believes that long legs make the right impression on the right people.
           Mary Margaret wears a royal blue embroidered knit top and a matching ruched skirt that purposely rides up her pale thigh. Her hair is colored from a box, a color called Medium Ash Brown/Suede.
          Mary Margaret buys both her Medium Ash Brown/Suede hair color and her clothes from Target. Mary Margaret finds that Target’s clothes are inexpensive, stylish, and just plus-sized enough to fit her. Mary Margaret is on the lean side of the plus-size market. This makes Mary Margaret feel good about herself when she dresses for work in the mornings.
          Earlier, Mary Margaret heard Ron utter “big ‘ole titties” under his breath as she passed by him in the hallway.
          Mary Margaret hears at a higher frequency than most people, higher even than most dogs. Sometimes at night, Mary Margaret hears wailing outside her bedroom window, and holds out hope that a werewolf will steal her away into the brush and make her the queen of his pack.
          Mary Margaret buys all her bras at Target. They are called “Sunset Minimizers.” They are lacey, come in a variety of colors, and are one of the few bras sold at Target that cover most of Mary Margaret’s breasts. Mary Margaret hates to hear her breasts being referred to as “titties.” Employees have titties – Directors have full, voluptuous creamy breasts. Mary Margaret bought a “Sunset Minimizer” black corset with scarlet embroidery and matching boyshorts that she plans to wear to the company Halloween party later. She told anyone who asked that she is dressing up as a sexy witch. Mary Margaret wouldn’t be surprised to find out that she is related to one or to several of the Salem witches. She has powers.
          Mary Margaret uses her superhuman hearing to discern snippets of whispered conversations that her employees think they are having in private.  Strutting towards Ron’s cubicle, she overhears another employee whisper “Mary Margaret is a cocksucker.” Earlier in the week, she heard the words “viper,” and “lazy” while passing by employees who were out on the patio, taking one of their state-mandated fifteen minute breaks.  Mary Margaret is a Director. She is practically everyone’s boss, except for the CEO who is her boss.
          Mary Margaret believes that she is fulfilling her destiny. She believes that she has always been a Director, ever since she came out of the womb, even though her promotion just came through last year.
          Mary Margaret keeps an excel spreadsheet on her computer desktop to keep track of the employee comments she hears. Updating the spreadsheet can take up most of Mary Margaret’s work day, when she isn’t in meetings discussing client pain points, important goals and agenda templates. If Mary Margaret’s spreadsheet indicates that an employee has made a disparaging comment about her more than three times, the employee is called into Mary Margaret’s office and written up for something unrelated.
          Mary Margaret peeks in Ron’s cubicle, which is bare and undecorated. Mary Margaret’s office, by contrast, is decorated in a Zen theme. She had Operations install a fountain with a smiling sun face that she purchased at Target using her company credit card. The sound of the water drowns out the employee voices humming in Mary Margaret’s ears. Ron appears to be working on a software project. He doesn’t look up.
          “Ron, will you please join me in my office for a moment?” Mary Margaret asks. She speaks in a low, affectless tone. Her inflection hardly wavers in any conversation. Mary Margaret struts towards her office. She can sense that Ron is following behind her. Mary Margaret has heightened senses, like those of a clairvoyant.
          Mary Margaret closes her office door once Ron has entered. She situates herself in her chair, and makes sure that her ruched skirt is not riding up so high so that Ron would be able to look up her skirt without trying. If Ron wants to look up her skirt, Mary Margaret would like to see him be proactive about it. If Mary Margaret can prove using an excel spreadsheet and accompanying graphs that fifty percent or more of her employees are showing initiative, she gets an extra thousand dollar bonus.
          “It’s been determined that you have not been taking your state-mandated fifteen minute breaks.” Mary Margaret says, in her low, affectless tone. She doesn’t know or care whether Ron is taking his breaks or not. Mary Margaret uses the state-mandated breaks as an excuse to write up employees who have said shit about her.
          She tries not to abuse the state-mandated break excuse too much, but it is getting more difficult. Mary Margaret is constantly catching her employees savaging her work ethic, managerial style and personal appearance. Mary Margaret has had to get very creative about write-ups. Last week, she wrote up an employee for changing a computer administrator password before the allotted forty-five days had passed.
          Mary Margaret overheard that employee saying to a friend that the only reason Mary Margaret had been promoted was that she let the CEO teabag her repeatedly. That employee was adamant about the teabagging. When Mary Margaret called that employee into her office, she used her special powers to make that employee cry.
          Mary Margaret speaks to Ron in a direct, yet non-threatening way. She crinkles up her face so that she appears warm and concerned and non-threatening.
          While Ron explains that there must be some mix-up, that he always takes his breaks, Mary Margaret’s mind wanders. She thinks about productivity strategies and Role Based Quick Start Guides and System Setup capabilities. She suddenly remembers an old X-Files episode, one of the episodes early on in the run of the show when it seemed that Mulder and Scully might get together until their mutual attraction was thwarted by an alien or by Mulder’s obsessing over his missing sister who was abducted by a UFO. Mary Margaret can’t remember what exactly thwarted Scully and Mulder’s budding love affair in the particular episode she is remembering, only that their love was indeed thwarted.
          When Ron finishes speaking, Mary Margaret modulates her voice to take on a harder edge. It is a conscious shift in tone, and one that Mary Margaret has honed to perfection.
          Mary Margaret can speak extemporaneously about many specific topics, including marketing strategies and communications, disaster recovery protocols, product end of life timelines and added value mapping. This is what she talks about when the CEO teabags her, only in a sexier way. She is a professional.
          Mary Margaret breathes deeply, inching herself into an extremely focused state. She believes that she can, if she concentrates hard enough, slow her breathing down to the rate equivalent to that of an Alaskan brown bear in hibernation. On weekends, Mary Margaret tries to bend spoons using only her mind.
          Mary Margaret notices an emanation enter her office through the air conditioning vent overhead. Only in a state of extreme concentration can she sense the emanation. The emanation is colorless and smells of cotton. Mary Margaret believes that the emanation is something she calls That Which Is Inevitable. Mary Margaret notices it circling around her office like a large but invisible bird, flying lower and lower, until it lands directly on the shoulder of her royal blue knit top and pecks lightly at the embroidery. Mary Margaret has tried on many occasions to commune with That Which Is Inevitable, but it seems to purposely elude communicating with her. Mary Margaret tried to contact That Which Is Inevitable with her Ouija board one weekend, but she ended up contacting someone who spelled out that he was a friend of her great Uncle Pat’s.
          After Ron finishes defending himself, Mary Margaret says, “Ron, in the future, I’ll expect you to follow the company’s published processes and procedures.”
          Mary Margaret employs this sentence for when her employees fail to live up to her expectations. She likes to call the employee by their proper name because it makes her disappointment appear more personal.
          Mary Margaret finds satisfaction when Ron’s face turns beet red and he stammers, reaching for a comeback. Ron tries to explain, this time in louder, more exacting detail, about how he can be found smoking out on the patio between 2PM and 2:15PM every workday, and then again, while eating a snack from 7-11 between 4PM-4:15PM.
          Mary Margaret relishes this type of cat and mouse game. She puts on a new face, one of consternation and discord and a touch of sadness. Mary Margaret practices this face in front of her bathroom mirror on weekends.  The face indicates to Ron that she regrets that they have to have this conversation, as Ron is a perfectly average individual with a clean shaven face and a nondescript manner, but that she has no choice given his insubordination. Ron needs to be dealt with quickly. Directors do not have “titties.” Mary Margaret narrows her eyes and squints, trying to permanently wipe the image of Ron’s clean shaven face and his blue Dockers off her retinas.
          As she squints, Mary Margaret realizes that she can see into Ron’s heart, into his leached bones and overcaffeinated bloodstream. She imagines Ron’s penis engorged with blood.  She has a vision of Ron suckling at her full, creamy voluptuous breasts. Mary Margaret wonders when she acquired X-Ray vision but is unphased by the discovery of this heretofore unexplored phenomena. She is reminded of another X-Files episode, one wherein Mulder discovered heretofore unexplored phenomena before getting distracted by thoughts of his missing sister.
          Mary Margaret straddles two separate planes of existence. That is why she is a Director, while Ron is merely an employee. It also explains why That Which Is Inevitable comes to visit her occasionally.
          Mary Margaret imagines That Which Is Inevitable resting on her shoulder, pulling locks of her Medium Ash Brown/Suede hair out to the side, so that they resemble Medusa’s snakes. Mary Margaret’s thoughts wander to community forum feedback, the failure of babies to thrive, the meanings behind crop circles and the role of ancient astronauts in the creation of the statues on Easter Island. Mary Margaret watches the spittle fly from Ron’s full, thick mouth.
          “Ron, in the future, I’ll expect you to follow the company’s published processes and procedures. Consider yourself written-up.”
          Mary Margaret knows what will happen once she throws out the write-up. All employees know that getting written up causes a myriad of problems, including but not limited to the addition of a permanent black mark on their HR record. As expected, Ron is finally rendered impotent. Mary Margaret has a vision of Ron’s engorged penis deflating and sagging towards the right.
          Ron leaves Mary Margaret’s office in a huff, slamming the door behind him harder than he should. That Which Is Inevitable leaves the office behind Ron and dissipates over the call center.
          Mary Margaret hears Ron say, “fucking bitch.” She updates her spreadsheet to reflect this new comment. Then she leaves her office for lunch.
          Lately, Mary Margaret dreams of being burned at the stake. She wonders if these dreams portend a day in the near future when she will spontaneously combust.
          After lunch, Mary Margaret attends meetings. Mary Margaret discusses Quick Tip Marketing materials and the upcoming interdepartmental company potluck and Cost Transaction Report errors. If she concentrates hard enough, she finds that she can float effortlessly above herself. She is hoping to one day use her powers to travel through time with the werewolf who scratches and whines under her bedroom window at night.
          At home after work, Mary Margaret readies herself for the company Halloween party. She touches up her roots with a special root wand included in the Medium Ash Brown/Suede hair color box. She applies white powder to make her face appear otherworldy, and lines her eyes with black eyeliner. Mary Margaret makes herself up this way on weekends before going on Skype to play board games with a group she met on Craigslist.
          That Which Is Inevitable sits on the toilet seat and watches Mary Margaret get ready for the party. When she was young, Mary Margaret used to sit on the toilet seat and watch her mother get ready for parties, before Mary Margaret’s mother stopped going to parties. At a certain point, her mother stopped leaving the house altogether and put tin foil on all the windows to purposely shut out any sunlight.
          That night, the company Halloween party is held at a sports bar near the office. Mary Margaret arrives, dressed in her corset, boyshorts, fishnet stockings, a velvet cape and backless high heels. She passes employees dressed as zombies, vampires, ghosts and notices Ron in a toga. The DJ is playing “Monster Mash.” She orders a rum punch from the bartender, who has a plastic second head coming out from his shoulder. She notices the bartender and his second head checking out her cleavage. The bartender hands her the change, and Mary Margaret puts the change in his tip jar. He smiles with his one good mouth. Mary Margaret drinks the rum punch, feeling that the evening is off to a very interesting start.
          Mary Margaret notices some of her employees staring at her. Her eardrums vibrate faster to listen in on their internal dialogue. She hears comments like “Can you believe she wore that?” and “totally inappropriate.” Mary Margaret knows she looks extremely appropriate for a Halloween party, and wishes, not for the first time, that her employees weren’t such hateful assholes who hated her with such a white, hot hatred. She drinks five rum punches in a row, and is feeling breezier than she ever does in the office. Mary Margaret is too tipsy to figure out who said what so that she can update her spreadsheet on Monday, but she doesn’t care. The party is in full swing, and Mary Margaret wants to dance. She pushes her way onto the dance floor, out into the center, and starts to spin.
          Mary Margaret used to spin in place for hours and hours when she was a child. Spinning on her slippery basement floor, it felt to Mary Margaret as though the space time continuum was suspended. Even as a child, Mary Margaret suspected that the laws of physics did not apply to her. At a certain point, she would stop spinning abruptly. Mary Margaret would achieve a kind of liftoff, and for an unspecified period of time afterward, she was propelled out towards space, through the galaxies and solar systems and into the heavens. Dazzling sights flew by – shooting stars, black holes, planets being born and suns dying in a final burst of energy. But after a while, Mary Margaret would always find herself back on earth, sitting cross-legged on the concrete basement floor, inspecting the cuts and abrasions on her body, a probable result of her extraterrestrial space travel.
          Mary Margaret’s father used to make jokes about how he needed to build a padded room for her to play in. After Mary Margaret fractured her arm during one of these space outings, her mother locked the door of the basement with a padlock.
          Mary Margaret is spinning in place at the party, her cape whipping around her with centrifugal force, until it unties from around her neck and flies onto the dance floor. Through the din, Mary Margaret notices that a crowd has formed around her, although standing back to give her room. Mary Margaret feels a pang of gratitude that her colleagues and employees have given her this freedom. She whips around, faster and faster. She hears voices as she spins –
          “Look at that!”
          “What the hell is she doing?”
          “Oh, man, did you see the CEO’s face?”
          But Mary Margaret is beyond all caring about her hateful employees. She focuses her energy on spinning.
          She is focused on a tiny bright light that she sees directly in front of her, growing brighter and larger. Mary Margaret’s spinning intensifies. Mary Margaret feels that this time, she might actually breach the boundaries between her and That Which Is Inevitable. A feeling of power surges within her, and she believes that she will be flung out into the stratosphere in a blaze of glory, destroying the bar and all of her co-workers in a cleansing fire. She will finally meet the time-traveling werewolf so that they can be together for eternity.  But then the music stops abruptly. Mary Margaret feels someone grasp her shoulders to stop her from spinning. She tries to focus on the face of the person who has stopped her, but whoever they are, they have stepped away, leaving her to trip over her backless heels. Mary Margaret cannot keep her balance and falls on her behind with a hard thump. Mary Margaret suddenly feels dizzy and pukes down the front of her cleavage, soiling her “Sunset Minimizer” corset and matching boyshorts. She sits on the dance floor in a puddle of her own vomit, listening to the crowd roar. Faces contorted with laughter stream by, roiling like waves that wash over her again and again and again.
          Then Mary Margaret feels a hand touch hers. The hand feels cool and smooth, as though made from a wax mold. On weekends, Mary Margaret makes molds of her own hands and feet with paraffin wax.
          The hand pulls Mary Margaret gently to her feet and leads her out of the center of the room. When Mary Margaret looks up, she sees that it is Ron who is attached to the cool, smooth hand. His toga is stained, and his face is shiny with sweat.  He finds a clean towel and helps Mary Margaret wipe off the vomit from her costume. He lets her wipe off her own cleavage, even though her hand eye coordination is a little off from spinning and she misses some of it. He gives her a glass of water, and helps her drink it. Then Ron ties Mary Margaret’s cape around her neck. It is damp from splashed beer and footprints have been scuffed into it. Mary Margaret is grateful that Ron found her cape, even though it is ruined.
          “Good as new,” he says.
          Ron pats her on the shoulder and walks away before Mary Margaret can utter a word. She notices That Which Is Inevitable hanging on Ron’s shoulder, like a lover, whispering into Ron’s ear. She can’t make out what it is saying before it disappears completely, merging into Ron’s corporeal being.
          Mary Margaret is reminded of an X-Files episode where the balance of sexual power shifted from Scully to Mulder, just before both of them were distracted by a mysterious extraterrestrial object glinting in the snow.
          Mary Margaret stumbles into the ladies room where two of her employees are freshening up. Mary Margaret cannot discern what they are saying to each other in low, hushed tones. She has no idea what they are thinking as they wash their hands and reapply their lip gloss, conspicuously avoiding her gaze. Mary Margaret tries to focus by breathing in and out, attempting to slow her heartbeat down to that of a lamprey swimming in frigid Arctic Ocean temperatures, but her mind is a complete and total blank. Mary Margaret fears that she has heard the last of the werewolf’s lovelorn cries.
          As her thoughts wander to client resource management, user acceptance testing and risk assessment, Mary Margaret stares in the mirror. In the harsh florescent lights, she cannot recognize herself.  She realizes that this is what it means to be earthbound.  This is what it is like to be an employee.