The first thing she noticed after her grand entrance into Swallin Realty was that the air conditioning was way, way too cold. She had instant goose bumps. Great, she thought, now I’m gonna have to shave my legs again, too, as she felt the goose bumps line her bare legs. She wasn’t sure that this day could get any worse.
And then when she saw who her father meant by ‘them’, her day got even worse. It was Dick Swallin, James’s son. He was not someone who she was expecting to see; rather he was someone she avoided at all costs. This wasn’t really a challenge, she hardly ever spoke to her father’s friend since she had moved out of the house a few years ago, considerably cutting down the amount of time she had to spend with Dick. Their parents usually threw them together in what she could only assume were attempts to make them friends, it was something that Lucy wanted nothing to do with.
First of all, Lucy had a hard time with anyone who wanted to call themselves Dick. His name was Richard, he could have picked Rick or Richie or Rich but, no, he wanted to go by Dick. He was the exact type of person who went by Dick as well, over confident and brash, pushy and strong willed. She did not get along well with people who always assumed they were the most important person in the room. By calling himself Dick she assumed he was trying to make people feel uncomfortable around him, giving himself the upper hand in any situation. He made her feel uncomfortable just by existing in the same room as her.
Lucy did not like Dick at all. In her opinion if you looked up jerk in the dictionary you would find Dick Swallin listed right after the Caribbean seasoning. She sighed out loud, disgusted, too upset to try and keep her cool. He looked up at her as she walked in, making eye contact and smiling with his perfect too white teeth. The act just made her more upset. Angrily, she looked at her father instead.
Her father, avoiding her eyes, spoke. “Loos, you remember your good friend Dick, right?”
Dick took his cue. “Ah, Lucy Lovejoy, it’s been much too long. We really should get together more often. Thanks for taking the time to come out today. Did you have trouble finding the place?”
Lucy’s head almost exploded right there and then. Of course she had problems find this place, she was almost an hour late. His smugness pissed her off more than she felt was possible. She felt tears welling in her eyes and fought to control her temper. There was no way she was going to cry in front of this jerk. She clenched her hands into tight fists and thought about punching his perfect teeth out of his conceited head. It helped her feel a little better but she still didn’t trust herself to speak less the waterworks begin. She bit her bottom lip a little and tried to calm down.
Without missing a beat James stepped in to control the conversation. “Well, since we are all here, shall we get started? Does anyone want some coffee or anything before we get going? Lucy?” He looked at her with an older yet similar smile to Dick’s. All Lucy could think of is how many teeth she could knock out of Dick’s face with one punch.
Lucy grateful for the chance to escape and compose herself, took off towards the room her father indicated. Thankfully no one tried to follow her. This was not going well. She entered the small kitchen area, there was a small refrigerator-microwave set like the kind you see in college dorms with a coffee maker on top of it. She found small white Styrofoam cups next to it and poured herself some coffee. It smelled old. She found the creamer, the generic powdered type, but it was empty. She was going to have to make due with just plain old black coffee. ‘At least there was coffee at all’ she thought as a consolation to herself.
Taking a deep breath she followed the sounds of conversation down the hallway to a small conference room at the end of the hall. Her father and James were reliving some glory days golf event or something, she really didn’t care. All three men looked up at her as she entered the room.
Lucy sat in the first chair she found, a comfortable black chair on wheels with a high cushiony back. Even thought the chair was comfortable enough she couldn’t let herself relax.
“So, Lucy,” James began, “we had all just been talking and, you know how these things get started. Well we were just thinking that maybe you would be interested in, well, you know how you and Dick were old childhood friends and all, and thinking in the interest of the company and since you dad and I are such good friends,” he rambled on, “hmm….Dick? You wanna take this over?”
Lucy felt the blood rush to her face. Since when were they ever good childhood friends she wanted to demand. What do I care about the best interests of this company she wanted to retort. She had no idea where this was headed, the anxiety tying her stomach in knots. Instead she stayed quiet, afraid speaking would give her away.
Dick smiled his smug smile flashing his super white teeth. He must bleach them, she thought to herself. No one’s teeth are that white. Her hate was so strong at that point she almost couldn’t stop herself from leaving. Her nails were biting into the palms of her hands she had her fists clenched so tight. The pain helped her focus on not beating the crap out of this smug bastard or breaking down into tears.
“Well, Lucy, I was wondering if you would like to accompany me to a business awards ceremony. As my date.” He said it not as a request but as a demand. Lucy almost screamed in disgust right there.
Instead she took a deep breath and said “No, Dick, I would not like to go anywhere with you. Ever.” The force which she spoke made her father cringe. Dick looked like he didn’t hear her. She could feel the tears building up, breathing was becoming difficult. She couldn’t bring herself to say anything else.
Somehow this conversation continued without her. Her anger consumed her and she was pretty sure her fingernails were cutting into the skin in her palms. Taking a deep breath and throwing caution to the wind she said “Dick, I will not be going as your da-da-date. I’m not going at all.” She said it quietly, the way she said the word ‘date’ made it sound venomous, as if it were a bad word. She wanted to scream at him but if she did she would lose her cool and probably start to cry. There was no way she was crying in front of him, she would rather slit her own throat. She was embarrassed by the stutter in her voice, too, but pressed on. “I refuse. If you are done….?”
Lucy did not wait for a response. She stood up much too quickly; the chair pushed out fast and slammed into the wall with a loud bang, causing her father to flinch. Before anyone could say anything she ran out of the room and towards the glass entry door. She pushed the door but it wouldn’t budge. A guttural sound escaped from her throat as she was pushed over the edge. She kicked the door, hurting her foot in the process. Slamming her hand on the glass she realized that she needed to pull the door open. She swung the door with such force that it too slammed too hard into the wall. By the time the door closed she was already across the block.
She tripped over the curb, twisting her ankle in her sandal. “Ahhhhhhhh!” she screamed, ripping the shoe off her foot. She flung it across the street where it hit a white Audi. She hoped it was Dick’s car. She half expected her father to have followed her but it seemed that no one was going to follow her. She kicked the brick wall in front of her with enough force that the heel of her still good sandal snapped to the side.
“Shit shit shit shit shit!” she swore as she tore that shoe off as well, throwing it at the same white car. Tears now stung her eyes. She went around the corner, refusing to stay anywhere in sight of where that detestable Dick might see her. Her vision blurred as the tears poured over her eyes and down her face. She couldn’t breath and she wanted to disappear. Or, rather, she wanted Dick to disappear. ‘How dare him! He didn’t even care what I said, he was gonna do what he wanted anyway! What the hell is this,’ she thought, ‘Who does that kind of crap?! What the hell, assuming I’d be happy to accompany him!’ She fumed, imagining herself punching his smug face into a bloody ugly thing. She wished she had the upper body strength to even hurt him a little, knowing that even if she did hit him it probably wouldn’t hurt him.
After a while she was able to breathe again. She calmed down, her eyes stung from crying so hard. Taking deep breaths she stood up and wiped the tears from her cheeks. When she felt she looked somewhat presentable she walked around the corner, heading to her car. She noticed her father’s car was already gone. Boy was he going to hear from her. She took another deep breath trying to control herself.
She was rushing down the street, heading to her car, when she saw The Door again. It brought her to a complete stop, her anger almost completely gone. It was replaced with a feeling of overwhelming curiosity, so strong she couldn’t resist but to go up to the door. It was open a crack again; she could have sworn that it had slammed closed when her father approached her before. She walked up to The Door again, touching the knob lightly with her fingers. The tingling feeling that she felt before pulsed up her arm again. She couldn’t describe how it made her feel, kind of a combination of comfortable, calm and collected. She took a deep breath and pushed open the door.