Traci entered Lynda’s office with a smile on her lips, and unease in her heart. “Is it me?” Asked Traci reaching for the door and closing it with a light snap. Before the question could completely leave her lips, Lynda replied forcefully, “yes, it’s you!” Lynda was sitting partially in the dark behind two computer screens in her small windowless office. Her desk was clear of clutter and papers except for a picture frame sandwiched between the two monitors on her desk. Her green eyed stare meeting Traci’s brown ones over the top of her left screen looked like she felt slime dripping down her face.
“What did I do?” Traci could not believe the venom directed at her. Where the hell was her friend, mentor, and confidant? Gone was the motherly figure who took her in when she was 12 years old, and in its place was a woman Traci did not recognize.
Lynda’s eyes glared a message that shriveled Traci’s heart before they returned to one of her screens. Walking further into the room, Traci reached out a tentative hand. “Lynda, don’t shut me down. Tell me what’s the matter?” Coaxed Traci.
“Get out of my fucking office!” The words exploded from Lynda like barbs aimed at Traci’s heart. Sucking in a breath, Traci snatched back her arm, but stayed watching the emotions playing over Lynda’s face.
“Get the fuck out my office,” Lynda shouted again, as she bounded out of her chair, rushing angrily towards Traci. Traci got out of the way before Lynda knocked her down. Wrenching open the door, Lynda pointed outside it with a stiff index finger. The door bounced against the wall a few times. Each sound like a frisson splintering Traci’s heart.
“What the hell’s going on?” Cried GG running down the hallway. At the entrance to Lynda’s office she looked anxiously back in the direction of children laughing and talking.
“Get this backstabber out of my office.”
“Lynda, calm down. It’s 4:30 P.M.”
“I don’t care who the fuck’s out there. Just get this chickenshit backstabber out of my office.”
“Fuck you Lynda! Fuck you, and the fucking broom you rode into work on today. I’m tired of your snippy attitude!”
“Jesus! What’s up with the both of you? You aiming for pink slips?” Asked GG in her Jersey accent.
“I’ve already been forced out by that whore. I received my severance package by goddamn email. Can you believe that shit?” Lynda asked as she stalked back to her desk. Her usual coiffed blue gray hair standing on end, as if she had been running her hands through it all day.
“What?” Cried Traci.
“Don’t try acting surprised. I know you were angling for my job, but to go behind my back-.”
“Surprise Traci. You got the job!” Said GG in a faked excited voice. “Wanted to tell you, but it was hush hush. Dr. Livingston signed off on the paperwork a month ago. Sorry Lynda.”
“Sorry my ass. Been carrying around everyone in this school for God knows how long. Let’s see how you going to do without me around here,” ranted Lynda as she paced back and forth from wall to wall behind her chair. “I thought you were my friend Traci,”
Traci tried to interrupt, “I am your friend.”
Lynda talked right over Traci’s words, “but you’ve been trying to take my job the whole time. Should’ve listened to Ian.” Lynda said falling into her seat behind her computer screens. “Now get the hell out, both of you.”
“Lynda, I didn’t know,” said Traci.
“How can you not know? You had to apply! Sitting at my table, eating my food, and backstabbing me the entire time. How do you live with yourself, huh? How you stomach to look in the fucking mirror? What happened between you and my Ian, huh? My sweet boy. I miss my sweet boy.” Tears welled up in Lynda’s eyes, as she gazed down at a photo on her desk. Traci knew it was a picture of her nephew, Ian. The nephew Lynda raised from two years old into manhood. The same nephew that abused Traci before disappearing, and leaving a cryptic note for his aunt and uncle.
“Traci let’s go,” said GG pulling Traci toward the door. Traci looked over at Lynda, and wished she could take back the hateful words she had flung at Lynda. Was it too late. Was our fifteen year friendship over? “Lynda?” Traci willed Lynda to look up with her friendly forgiving eyes.
Lynda looked up, and Traci wished that she had not. It was over. Traci left with the same heavy heart with which she had originally entered Lynda’s office. Unable to draw a breath, Traci realized that she had been holding her breath through the entire gaze exchange with Lynda a few seconds ago. Her heart stuttered a little, and then the excruciating pain followed. Pressing the heel of her right hand against her heart, tears pooling in her eyes, Traci allowed GG to tug her out the door. GG closed the door closed with a sharp snick.