She moves through the office of pencil skirts, short shorts and barely-there bottoms, feeling like her very walk is an apology on behalf of women with thick ankles and swaying backsides everywhere. She hugs the files to her chest, hoping they cover what should probably be the least of her worries and tries to hold her head high.
She gets as far as the third cubicle.
Sure that Monica produces a snicker, certain Shelley looks up from her ledgers and giggles, mortified that Terry might’ve just let out one big howl⎯she looks down at her feet.
And walks on.
She endures growing consciousness with every step. Aware that the fabric in her own knee length skirt bunches with every movement, mindful no one wears hose anymore as her own cause her to sweat right through her high-wasted undies, regretful of the tightish blouse she’d questioned herself on twice this morning before eventually locking her apartment door with a sigh.
Today is no different than yesterday or the day before or the day before that. Her clothes never fit right. Never look right. Never, ever, feel right. She doesn’t walk the aisles with the ease the other women do. She doesn’t head in early to stand at the Keurig allowing everyone to acknowledge her new, may as well be painted on, skinny jeans.
Why did she chose an office where every day is Friday?
No, she comes in early to clamber into her chair and hide behind her desk before anyone else gets in. She waits well past much needed bathroom breaks, hoping for a clear coast and sits parched long after everyone else is off to be fed and watered.
“Hey, Dot. Sitting in again?”
Her boss is a tall man⎯thin and wiry, looming over her desk like a flag at full-mast.
“Oh, yeah, I guess. Just finishing these last reports.”
He glances at all the other desks sprinkled with open files, papers askew, clearly nowhere near completion.
“In a dream world, your co-workers would do the same.” He laughs.
“Well, we can’t all be perfect,” she jokes nervously.
She’s good at her job. Gets her work done. She’s thorough, accurate and always on time. She works through her lunch and stays late without complaining. She is perpetually professional and despite what she feels is a less than desirable façade; her appearance is unfailingly tidy.
“So true.” He smiles. “Ah, well I hope you get time to eat at some point today. I wouldn’t want you fading away.”
Her face is a fiery inferno. Fading away? Is he making fun of her now too?
With shaky hands hidden below the desk’s surface, she tries desperately to smooth out the fabric covering her belly. She pulls her body out of its slouch and shifts in her chair.
“No chance,” she replies uneasily. “I’m hardly that fragile.”
Mr. Brig looks her up and down and then directly in the eye.
“Don’t underestimate yourself, Dot.”