Manuscript Mondays – Claire Revisited.

Marie pulled up in front of a brick building with weeds growing around the broken stones in the walkway. It was an Earth-seventies style design with bright yellow trim  and a flat, angular roof. The fence, a rusty chain-link that towered over her head, bent slightly inwards towards the building, shying away from the street. Marie pushed open the corroded gate with hesitation, nearly tiptoeing up the walk.

The list of residents was water-stained and yellowed, adding to the neglected charm of the place. A lone spider dangled mournfully from it’s silken thread. Written in the slot for 2-C was Williams, Claire, in messy print.

Marie hit the buzzer somewhat nervously, half praying she wouldn’t be home. Her nerves doubled when Claire’s voice came through over the buzzer.

“Hello?” Claire said, voice fuzzy over the connection.

“It’s Marie. Everard.” Marie said back.

There was a long pause before the door lock clicked open.

Shit, Marie thought. She hadn’t expected that.

She took the stairs to the second floor and knocked on 2-C. Claire opened the door almost immediately. She wore striped pajamas and square framed glasses, and her dark hair was frizzy and somewhat greasy. She looked unapologetically disheveled.

“I didn’t fire you,” Marie blurted out.

“You did order me to ‘Get Out”,” Claire said flatly.

“Yeah, of my office,” Marie said in defense. “Not of the company.”

“Wait, what the fuck?” Claire said, running her fingers through her hair. “You chased me down in a different dimension on a different planet to tell me I wasn’t fired. Do you not have better things to do?”

Marie sighed.

“Listen, it’s been a weird day, but the bottom line is that you’re an awesome secretary and you’re not fired.”

Claire frowned.

“Don’t start sucking up to me.”

“I’m not sucking up.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Look, we both said things that were hurtful. Yours just happened to be the truth, and I needed to hear it. Badly. If bettering myself means having someone around willing to kick me in the ass when I deserve it, then so be it. Especially on a different dimension with weird-ass shit happening. Like, I so don’t want to be dealing with this shit alone anymore.

Claire stared at her.

“You’ve changed.”

“I have. Inter-dimensional travel does that to a girl.

Claire sighed, and rolled her head in a long, languid circle. Marie looked down at her worn slippers, which at one point might have been fuzzy and pink, but were now matted and had holes in the toes. Her pajama bottoms were clean but neatly patched on the knees and lower legs. They showed about three inches too much ankle.

“Shit, what does a secretary even do here?” Claire asked. “Do you even have meetings to manage?”

“You’d be surprised, Claire.”

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