From well conditioned, salon perfect locks down to fine Italian leather shoes, Carole Kramer was the picture of control. Determination in every step, she made her way past tiny cubicles to her own corner office.
“Whose are those?” Carole nodded her head toward the bouquet of fresh cut flowers spilling out of their crystal vase on the receptionist’s desk.
“Misty’s…sympathy.” Carole rolled her eyes at her receptionist Diane as she headed into her office. Shutting the door behind her with force, she dropped into her chair and picked up the phone. First she pressed speed dial number one, then picked up a pen.
“Hello, Connelly and Dowell’s, how may I direct your call?”
“Nancy, is Dan in?”
“One moment, please.” Carole tapped her pen on her desk as Nancy sent her call to Dan’s office.
“Hello, gorgeous.” Dan’s smooth voice floated into her ear. “Breaking our dinner engagement again for a stodgy client?” There was a touch of bitterness in his tone.
Thankful that phones did not betray facial expression, Carole winced at his comment. She had only broken one dinner engagement this week and it had only been because…”
“Mr. Erickson’s on line four.” Diane’s voice broke in over the intercom.
“Sorry, Dan, I’ve got to go. I’m not breaking our date. I’ll see you eight o’clock sharp and we can talk then.” Carole hoped Dan didn’t catch the tremble in her voice as she said good-bye. What was wrong with her? She hadn’t earned the reputation as the “Dictator” by falling prey to the usual feminine musings. She wasn’t weak like Misty. Misty wore her heart on her sleeve and floated from emotion to emotion. It was enough to make a person sea sick!
Carole would have rescheduled her “procedure” if she had known Misty would be at the Doctor’s office the same time that week. She could feel the prickle of hairs on end at the back of her neck with the memory. The moment their eyes had met, each coming out of their exam rooms, Carole had wanted to run. It was bad enough for her to be battling a moment of vulnerability; she didn’t need Misty around to prick at her conscience as well.
A “gift from God” she had called it. How about an inconvenience, a bit of tissue wreaking havoc with her body? How many meetings had she sat through afraid her stomach would reject her last meal? Misty should be glad Mother Nature had intervened on her behalf. Doctors willing to “intervene” were not as easy to find as Carole had been lead to believe.
“Ms. Kramer, Mr. Erickson is still on hold.”
As Carole reached to push line 4, her sleeve caught her petty cash dish sending it crashing to the floor. A start passed through her body as she caught sight of a quarter spinning on her carpet.
Beads of perspiration dotted her upper lip and her chest felt compressed as a wave of reality settled like a hammer. Color left her face as she continued to stare at the quarter. Heads or tails, it didn’t matter, no matter what side was up the fact was still there. A quarter was a quarter and a life was a life. Whether viewed as a blessing or a curse, it didn’t matter. Life couldn’t be determined by “choice”. It simply was or it wasn’t.
The beeping phone brought Carole back to the present and she gasped. Mr. Erickson didn’t take kindly to waiting.
“Mr. Erickson, how can I make your life easier this morning?” As she slipped back into her familiar role confidence covered doubt and composure buried vulnerability. What was she thinking? She had just experienced one of those “moments” the doctor had warned her about. She was still the “Dictator”.
“Let’s set that up for December 2nd.” Carole smirked as she heard the exact date the doctor had predicted as the due date. How ironic. She penciled in the meeting and affirmed Mr. Erickson all would be taken care of.
As she placed the phone in the receiver, she righted the petty cash dish and scooped up the change. Settled once again at her desk, she straightened her jacket and smoothed her hair. December 2nd, what did it really matter? After all, wasn’t it just another day?
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