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I try to smile and act calm, cool, and collected, but a stress headache is pounding away on either side of my temples, and I want to go hide under my desk. Why did I agree to this? I have no idea. Forcing the corners of my mouth up even further, I nod enthusiastically at the person sitting in front of me. Did she just ask me a question? I need to start paying attention.
Despite the multiple meditation apps currently installed on my phone, I don’t deal well with stress. I’ve tried all sorts of New Age breathing techniques and visualization exercises, and I used to own a small clown-shaped rubbery ball that I could squeeze until its creepy eyes bulged out of its head, but I flung it across my office last week in a moment of frustration when my computer was taking forever to update. (I have no patience for this process. Time is money!) The ball ended up lodged between two heavy filing cabinets, and it’s been gathering dust ever since. As soon as this epic waste of prime afternoon hours is over, I’m going retrieve it.
I wipe my moist palms on my black pencil skirt. Who needs a pricey gym membership when squirming in your seat makes you sweat as much as an hour on the treadmill?
Is she still talking? Should I nod again? Yes, that feels right. The last thing I want to do is make my guest feel like I’m not fully invested in our meeting. But I really must remember to clean behind those cabinets.
“Excuse me, Ms. Hart. Do you need me to repeat the question?”
My eyes dart back to the woman with mousey brown hair sitting in front of me who can’t be a day over twenty-one. She’s holding a black notebook and pen like a journalist from a forgotten era. I’ve never been interviewed before, but I expected an iPhone or some state of the art recorder smaller than a paper clip. Instead, I’m being quizzed by a wannabe Lois Lane. She’s so young, I bet she has no idea who Lois Lane is.
I’m about to tell-Brenda? Belinda? Enid?-to “yes, please repeat the question” when there’s a small knock at the door and Evie Glass strolls into my office. Again. I’d forwarded all my calls to Evie’s number earlier in the day to avoid any and all distractions. Even though “no interruptions” is a pretty self-explanatory concept, some people apparently have a hard time grasping it.
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