This is a brief encounter between Marie and her dad (possibly the first). Her dad owns the fashion company she works for.
“Marie, your father called,” Claire assaulted her as she stepped over the threshold into her office. Typical Claire. Never even gives her time to take her coat off before starting into some new crisis.
“Of course he did,” Marie sighed, “What does he want this time?”
“A word with you as soon as possible. He’s in his office from noon to two today.”
Marie nodded and turned on her heel to leave. As an after-thought, she stripped off her jacket and threw it behind her as she left, trusting Claire to pick it up for her.
Her father’s office was a floor up from hers and directly overhead. She could sometimes hear him pacing back and forth on the phone with someone, circling his desk and walking from the window back to the door. It was a familiar habit. Marie used to watch him do the same thing at home when she was young, treading a path in the carpet around the dinner table in a perfect rectangle.
Their office floor plans were exactly the same, but unlike Marie’s pristine, militantly organized space, William Everard’s office was an explosion of papers, charts, and photographs. Where Marie had a single calendar hanging on her wall, her father had a huge bulletin board full of mockups, sticky notes, drawings, and samples. A rack of clothing was standing in the corner hung with pieces from the fall collection. Stacks of magazines, books and file folders burst from overloaded racks shoved against any unused wall space.
Marie ignored the empty chair and stood in front of the desk when she came in. Her father was, as usual, on the phone, pacing a circle around his desk. He didn’t notice her presence until he came around to the front and saw that she was in his way. William Everard nodded to her, turned around, and walked in the opposite direction, knocking a stack of envelopes off of his chair and sitting down.
Marie stared out the window at the lake while her father finished his conversation and idly mused on what a difference of one floor could make to the view. From her office, she could see masses of people; from his, she could look down from above and distinguish the smaller groups within the whole.
Everard finished his phone call and put the phone down on a binder full of model contracts.
“You wanted me?” Marie asked, before he could start.
“I wanted to see if you were in the office,” Everard replied.
“You called me up here just to see if I was in the office.”
“You haven’t been for the past two days.”
“I’ve been busy.”
“Maybe,” Marie said defensively. She shifted her weight to the opposite foot.
“Maybe,” her father repeated. “You’ve blown off two full days in the office doing work ‘maybe’.”
“I don’t see how it’s any of your business,” Marie shot back.
“It’s my business, because it’s my company,” Everard said, his voice a low monotone.
Marie didn’t reply. She was far past the age where her dad was able to cow her just by dropping an octave.
“Look,” Everard continued, “I don’t know what’s going on with you, but in the past four months, you’ve been MIA for 10 days. I’ve had to cover your ass more than once now. This isn’t some minimum wage job where you can skip around and come in hung over.”
“I don’t come in hung over,” Marie objected.
“No, because when you’re hung over, you don’t come in at all,” her father shoot back.
“I don’t need to listen to this,” she replied, making a move for the door.
“Marie, for God’s sake, stop being so stubborn,” Everard continued. “If you weren’t my daughter I would have let you go by now. If you don’t start doing your job, I’m going to have to. That’s the final line. You’re 24. Act like it.”
Marie paused with her hand on the door.
“You’re 51,” she shot back. “Date someone your own age.”
She slammed the door.
Mr. Everard closed his eyes for a brief moment, then stood and resumed his walk around the desk.