Tuere T. S. Ganges
“It just makes me sad, is all I'm saying. Geez.” Marisol sucked her teeth and went back to typing. She hated herself for sharing her feelings with Genevieve in the neighboring cubicle. Genevieve always treated everyone like they were insane.
“Who in their right mind would read a romance novel?” is something she would say. Or, “Just a salad? Why go to a chicken place and not get at least some nuggets?”
“We're just people, Gen,” Marisol wished she could say. Folding instead, “I know, pathetic, right?” Or, “I don't know what I was thinking, I didn't want the nuggets until I smelled the chicken when I drove away.”
Now, she'd gone and done it. She'd been sucked in by Genevieve's solemnity when she confided how much it “twisted her titty” to see Pam Dexter get the assistant manager position, when she'd worked for the company for ten years.
“I think Pam's playing 'Poke the Pickle' with Fontaine, if you ask me,” Genevieve said. “Who in their right mind would give a girl who's worked here for six months the assistant manager's position over me?”
“I know, right?” Marisol said, elbowing the urge to mention how crazy someone would have to be to not realize she'd been passed over for a management position at least six times in ten years because of her bad attitude.
“Fontaine's a flake.” Genevieve said, picking up a hand mirror and adjusting her stiff, Golden-Honey-Number-Thirty hair. “I wanted that extra money to get my eyebrows tattooed on. I saw it on Oprah. It would save me twenty minutes every morning, I'll tell you what.”
“I don't like how I can smile at him, say 'Good morning,' and everything, and he looks past me like I wasn't even there. Would it kill him to say, 'Hey'? I worked here for three years and I'm nice to everybody but he hasn't said more than, 'Where's Gen?' to me.” Marisol pulled out a sandwich bag filled with sourdough pretzels.
“What's he asking for me for?”
“If he said more than, 'Where's Gen?' I could tell you.”
“When did he do that?”
“When did he ask for me, Dopey Dawn?”
“Oh, I dunno. All the time. Like he came by during your lunch break a few times last week. And a couple of times when you went out for a smoke. And then he never comes back looking for you. Weird, huh?”
Marisol recalled the pain from Mr. Fontaine's visits like they were defective baby toys. He'd pop up in their corner like the building was on fire and he was checking to see if Genevieve was unconscious at her desk. Then Marisol would turn on her usual sweetness, her whole vat of gooey syrup just pouring out. “Hi Mr. Fontaine. How are you today?” She'd bubbled her brown sugar all over him and he'd only frown and ask for Gen then speed off like it was all her fault Gen wasn't there when he needed her. He made her feel immaterial.
It was worse in the hallway, as she raced over the slate and indigo checkered tiles to the copy room, working hard to make Fontaine, Inc. successful. She'd see him coming the other way; coffee cup in hand, his neat khaki pants resting on clean, leather deck shoes, and the sleeves of his denim oxford rolled up to the thick of his forearms. She'd flash her winning smile that won her the junior title for the Miss Puerto Rican Day Parade pageant, and he looked through her like she'd gone transparent. She always gritted her teeth, she could smile for fourteen blocks, and did so for the length of the hallway.
Every time, she fell for it. Every time, he made her feel like she'd left her body at her desk and her ghost haunted the hallway with perfect teeth and princess waves no one could ever see. She thought that one day, she wouldn't steer her soul to the right side like all American office traffic. One day, she'll strut down the middle like a celebutante on the red carpet, pumping her arms to the techno music of her imaginary fashion show. He'd have to acknowledge her to walk around, wouldn't he? But what if he walked through her instead?
“What the hell did you tell him?” Genevieve growled, her pale forehead turning red beneath her ivory powder.
“Fontaine, Lame Jane. Did you tell him I was out smoking?”
“I dunno. Probably. Then he'd just frown again and walk out. What's up with that? That really hurts my feelings.”
Genevieve shook her head like she'd been confounded by an extremity of some sort, an anomaly. “You're not the brightest bulb in the box, are ya, Mar?”
Marisol looked away. If Genevieve couldn't see how her insults of co-workers was keeping her out of management, she didn't deserve to get a promotion. She could just sit there at her cubicle for another ten years, drawing on her eyebrows. Marisol had bigger plans than that.
TUERE T. S. GANGES is working on her MFA in Creative Writing at Queens University of Charlotte. She resides in
Motivation: "What motivated me to write this story is one of the big bosses at my job. I don't know if she's shy or mean, but no matter how nice I am, she just looks through me like I'm not even there."