12 October 2012

The Secretary

The secretary sat back from her desk and rubbed her eyes. She couldn't concentrate. The words the Party leader had spoken the day before kept appearing in her mind, cutting her thoughts like gulls in cloud.

She walked to the window and gazed out beyond the city. Large clouds rolled in from the sea, lit up bright yellow-white by the late afternoon sun. She bit her lip nervously.

The Party leader had made it clear that he did not expect her to turn the offer down. And it was a wonderful offer. Her heart raced at the thought of the advantages it could afford. But there was a tightness in her stomach, a feeling unfamiliar to someone so capable. The bad feeling grew.

She had no idea what Charles looked like- the city was good at hiding those things that shouldn't be seen- but she'd heard the rumours like everyone else. The enormous physical prospect of him was unbelievable enough, but there was so much more. He didn't belong in the city, amongst them here; he just didn't belong anywhere. She thought about his parents and how embarrassed and dissapointed they must be in him.  Her mind started to construct an image of him without his clothes and a bitter taste caught the back of her throat. She closed her eyes and rested a hand against the window, breathing heavily.

Could she really do it? The sickness could be controlled through medication, as could the lack of physical desire, but could she keep the act up, all the way to the end? The idea of being intimate with him... And what if she accidentally let the truth slip out? The whole matter demanded the utmost discretion; the Party leader had explained that very carefully. And she knew very well that he detested loose ends.

A call came through on her screen, the metallic sound bringing her back from her thoughts. She walked back over to her desk and answered the call, her voice friendly but with a measured calm, just as prescribed by her role. Back in familiar territory she felt comfortable again, in control. The Party leader was out, and the man hung on, flirting with her as she had come to expect. She smiled and laughed lightly at his jokes. An act, perfectly performed.

She walked back to the window, this time noting the fine view of the city and the sea beyond. Gulls caught the autumn wind and wheeled through the rolling clouds. There were planes.

This was a good job. One of the best she could hope to find outside of the Ultra class. If she turned the offer down, this would be it; a job for life, answering calls, scheduling, translation, speech-writing. She knew she could do so much more. She rested her head against the window, feeling the warmth of the sun and the dead cold of the glass. Balance. She slowed her breathing.

The offer meant things she would otherwise never have. Wealth, fame, maximised opportunity. A place among the Ultra.

She turned back to her desk, catching her reflection from the long mirror on the far side of the room. She was staggeringly beautiful. Even here in the city, even amongst the countless beautiful women she stood out. She touched her face and played absently with her hair. There had always been something, a feeling that she was destined for something more. She imagined families watching reports about her on their screens at home, people reading articles about her, discussing photographs of her over their morning coffee in caf├ęs all over the city. Men, talking about her in bars, thinking of her as they went about their work.

She sat back down at her desk, and smiled.

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