The IndieInk Writing Challenge comes from Leslie, and asks me to write about a bikini, an annoying boss, and a fake illness. My challenge goes to Ixy, who I am asking to tell us about being five.
Alexa woke up with nausea already boiling in her gut. It was Monday, which explained part of it. She had begun to really hate her job, which was part of it, too. But this morning, staring at the mute red numbers on her cheap alarm clock, Alexa knew she couldn't face it. Her Monday clothes hung on her armoire, the shadow of her skirt, blouse, and jacket lingering there like a bad smell.
Her job was to make Charles look good. To have the information he needed for him, to do the calculations that made him look brilliant. To look good in a suit, to listen to his rants when things aren't going well, to be seen and not heard. Alexa went to college and worked hard, and she has wound up as a well dressed number cruncher. "Be glad you have a job," Stacy said, and the numbers of her college friends who posted about unemployed spouses or selves seemed to climb every week. It was constant stress- whatever she provided, it wasn't what he needed, or it was too slow, or it wasn't accurate enough.
Alexa knew that was true, but she still felt sick. The idea took hold at the bottom of her brain, and suddenly it was all she thought of. Call in sick. Why not? She knew the big meeting wasn't until Wednesday, and she had plenty of time to use. Temperatures in the upper 80s today, the first really warm day of the spring, combined with no real loss to her absence? A day away from ringing phones, conflicting demands, and unwanted eyes on her as she walked away from his desk.
The idea becomes irresistible the more she thinks about it. A day by the river, sunning herself, reading and watching people? Why not indeed. Alexa dialed into Charles' office, the number that she would usually answer. She reached into her drawer for her black bikini, already picturing the warm sun on her bare legs. She would have to go in tomorrow, but she was already relishing the hours of freedom. She waited for the voice mail to pick up.
"Hello?" Charles usually wasn't in for an hour after she got there. He sounded sleepless, almost manic.
"Ch-Ch-Charles? I didn't think you'd be in yet."
"Well, I haven't been home yet. Something's happened."
Alexa's blood froze. "What? What's happened? Why didn't you call me?"
"I can't say just yet," Charles said.
"I can be there in an hour," Alexa said quickly, her stomach now churning full force.
"No, no. There's not much you can do, right now. What were you calling for?"
Alexa swallowed hard. "I don't feel...I wasn't feeling...,"
"You're sick? No problem, hon. Take the day off. I'll talk to you tomorrow." He hung up quickly. Alexa stared at her phone, the screen reminding her that the call had ended. Her stomach tightened in a spasm. Now, she thought, I do feel sick.