Dead End Job
shake violently and suddenly my lungs, no matter how hard I was breathing, refused to fill up with air. Sensing an imminent breakdown, I quickly unbuttoned the top button of my pants, pulled the neck of my shirt away from my body and scooted my desk chair backwards a couple of feet. I leaned forward and shuddered, relaxing my head downwards towards my lap. I started counting 1-2-3 and breathing slowly. I stayed in that position for a few moments longer, methodically breathing in and out. The whole incident took about 5 minutes, but eventually I felt calm enough to sit back up, button up my pants and log into my computer.
    Martin was not in yet, so I was alone on our side of the office. Despite my drunken assertions the prior night that I needed to find out who had killed Sarah, I was in no state to search around the office for clues. Instead, I optimistically hoped that the clues would come to me, so I opened my emails and scanned through them, not so much looking for actionable items that had come in from members of my group as searching for some kind of explanation for Sarah’s death.
    I browsed my inbox, ignoring the usual requests for reports and last minute print jobs, and found the one other email about the incident that had come in at 6:42 PM on Wednesday evening from our local HR department, detailing how new security measures would be put in place for those employees who worked late or came in early. Because I never did either, I scanned the email quickly then deleted it.
              There was also an email last night from Elaine, which was written rather tersely, inviting me and the rest of our group to Sarah’s funeral service, to be held on Saturday morning pending the completion of Sarah’s autopsy. Typical of Elaine, the email was wholly void of emotion. Elaine had a well-documented fear of any type of emotional or physical weakness in people. To my co-workers’ and my constant chagrin, she expressed exactly zero sympathy for normal life events such as becoming ill, losing a family member or having any type emotional distress. I thought about Sarah’s poor husband Ben, who was probably sitting at the medical examiner’s office with their two elementary school-aged kids, and deleted Elaine’s email in disgust.
    The beep and click of the front entrance caused a sudden rush of goose bumps to cover my arms, and my physical premonition was justified as I heard the speaker phone dial-tone and Clark’s recorded greeting as he checked his voicemail. I waited a moment for him to finish scanning through his messages and decided that it was the right time to act. The office was empty, and therefore I could have a quick conversation with him without the total embarrassment of the rest of the group eavesdropping. I took a deep breath and stood up, steadying myself as I strode over to his desk.
    “Good morning,” I said, cheerily. “It’s really creepy being here, right? I mean, I can’t believe what happened to poor Sarah. I mean, she was here working, and now she’s just…dead.” He paused from his typing and looked up to see me standing in the cube next to him, my head and shoulders hanging over the ledge into his cube, looking absolutely as casual as I could.
    “Oh, hey Louisa. Yeah, I guess it’s pretty weird,” he said, seeming completely nonplussed.
    Sensing that my line of conversation really wasn’t going to go anywhere, I decided to change the subject. “Right. Well, I wanted to thank you for the drinks last night, that was really nice of you. Oh, and my girlfriend Alex says thanks, too. That was who I was with,” I rambled.
    “That’s cool,” he said, returning to his typing. Although Clark clearly expected that this sentiment was going to be adequate to end the conversation, I wasn’t getting the message. I kept staring at him as if he was going to at least demonstrate a basic social interaction by somehow acknowledging me in a more significant way. Instead he began checking

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