28 August, 2011

Fomori - Novel in Progress

I was teased mercilessly when I was a kid for having a weird name. The girls in my class would steal my pencil case and dropkick it down the hall, coloured pencils and erasers shooting out of the broken zipper like a pressurized volcano spewing rainbow lava. Several classmates would then proceed to stomp on the fallen projectiles, the hall spotted with squished and crumbled wax and lead until the janitor chiseled the Crayola off of the linoleum. The boys would sneak into class during recess and take my backpack off of my labeled hook and throw it in the class garbage, leaving me to fish it out in front of everybody once getting back into the classroom, the air saturated with laughter and my humiliation.

The teachers would always take me aside and explain that some people are scared of things that are different. My parents were constantly called into meetings with the principal and other parents, and it always ended the same way; the parents would have “a talk” with their kids about their behaviour. My mother would always look frail and worried, and my father would rub his temples with his fingertips with a grim expression on his face. My mom would always tell me that if people are bothering me to just walk away and try not to let it bother me. I wanted to scream at her that it’s hard to walk away when three boys are pinning you to the ground with their muddy boots on your back while the girls stole the snacks out of your lunch, throwing the sandwich over the schoolyard fence into the neighboring horse field.

After one of these meetings my parents dropped me off at my Grandparent’s house, while they sat up and discussed what they were going to do about their tormented 9 year old. My grandmother came into my room to say goodnight, and sat on the edge of my bed and explained that my name was strong and powerful like me. She said that traditional names are for traditional children, and there was nothing average about me, that I was special and meant for great things. She told me you can’t run from people who are mean to you, because most of the time those people are just looking for a challenge they can win. If you’re strong willed and brave, you will always win. “Be great, Rycan,” she would say. “Think great, and love great, for those are the most coveted qualities we can possess as people.” Then she kissed my head and quietly shut the door.

Normal children in most cases loathed visiting their grandparents in their normally stuffy homes that smelled of potpourri and cats, but I loved visiting mine. They had beautiful furniture my Poppa had built during his craftsman career, which felt like butter when you ran your hands over the leather. Their house always smelled sweet and fresh, like clover and citrus, and there was always a candy dish filled with something sugary my mother would never let me have at our house, which I normally finished before dinner. My Grandmother had come over from Ireland when she was in her late teens to build a new life for herself, when she met my Poppa; they ended up having my mother and settling down in Ontario to raise their family. Shortly after I turned 12 my Poppa died of a stroke and my Grandma moved back to Ireland, after that I only got to see her twice a year when she came down to stay with us, and every few years I would stay with her for summer break.

On these rare occasions my Grandma was at our house, she would take me to museums, art exhibits, plays and anything else I wanted, where we would get ice cream and take walks through the woods where she would tell me her wild adventures back in Ireland. She always had such fantastical tales, involving heroes and magic. My Mother scolded her several times when I was growing up for putting “nightmares” in my head, but my Grandma always said that imagination begets bravery and wisdom, and her stories would help be grow. We would sit on my bed every night and she would tell me amazing stories, one about her dog Pat back home and how she found him in the woods surrounded by giants.

She always told the story the same, as if it was seared into a book she was reading from memory. She was on her way back from a walk she took after dark, when she cut across the woods leading up to her house. It was a harvest moon, the brightest and most beautiful night in her life, the moon was so big you could pluck it from the sky, put it into your pocket and the sky would still glow a brilliant orange. She took the trail a half mile until she came upon a very small dog, a runt, left alone by its pack by the side of the trail. The dog was just a few months old, so my Grandmother scooped it into her coat determined to take care of the animal, and set out of the woods. As she walked she noticed near the end of the forest thicket, large shadows covering the trail opening. As she neared, she saw more and more large figures silently stepping out of the forest into the clearing of her back yard; they were as tall as grown men, some even taller, but they stood on four legs. She got the chance to look one right in the eye as she stopped in front of the clearing; its yellow eyes glowed through her as if they were waiting for something, another step towards the creatures and they just vanished, like smoke.

“Like a puff of smoke!” She would always exclaim, using both her hands in front of her face, fingers flexing outwards showing how fast they were gone. She’d tell stories about Irish Kings, and powerful witches, and I would listen in awe, as my parents would roll their eyes in the hallway. The year before high school was the first year my Grandmother didn’t come to visit, and then it was the year after that, and then the next year too. My parent’s said it was for the best and would help me grow up properly, and while I was sad, they were right: I eventually started to grow up and left the Giants and magic fantasies behind me and started caring more about boys and makeup.

I entered high school the exact opposite as I left Elementary school. I was growing up and out as you might say, developing into a young woman. My long blonde hair fell in soft waves below my shoulders, with natural highlights from the sun. My stature was tall and thinly built, with a long neck and big, green eyes. High School ended up flying by as it always does, and I went off to University where I graduated a 4 year Political Science degree with Honours. I applied for several jobs, and didn’t get one bite, so finally I decided my dream of being the CEO of a large Law Firm in 5 years was somewhat exaggerated, and took a job at a law firm in Toronto being the bottom of the barrel data entry chimp.

I eventually saved up enough money for a down payment on a small house, I moved out, eating Kraft Dinner for more meals a week than I care to share. I worked hard to support myself, by myself, and to climb my way up the ladder to bigger and better things. Ok, maybe clung to the ladder and tried not to fall, while trying to separate myself from the others. Now you know the crap I’ve been through, back to the present.

I was late for work; running out the door with a bagel in my mouth and throwing on my coat, while trying to run and put on my shoes all at the same time. The carpool horn blaring, with the headlights glaring and reflecting the dim street lamp light in the dark, foggy forbidden hours of the early AM. “Alright, alright, keep your pants on,” I muttered as I get to the driveway and fumble with the car handle, while trying to balance my travel mug and bagel on top of each other, “got it!” I sighed as I slid into the back seat of the leather-clad Oldsmobile wagon, as it drifted backwards and started off down the road.

“You’re late.” It was not a welcoming tone, and it came from the steely-eyed Megan who was driving, and apparently waiting too long for me. I quickly murmured an apology while the two other passengers fell silent as we drove through early morning mist to our office. We parked and all headed towards the door, I wanted to fall behind a little so I didn’t have to go up the elevator with Megan or her two awkward friends. I watched them walk through the front doors, not even looking behind them as they let the door slam shut, completely unaware I wasn’t behind them still. I rolled my eyes and stood outside the building, rubbing my arms briskly and doing up the top buttons on my wool coat. It was really chilly out this morning, and the sky looked like it was withholding secrets, it was green and grey while the clouds looked as black as coal; the sun hadn’t even started to come up yet. The air was bitter cold for October, and it seemed like we would be getting an early winter.

“Hey weirdo, get out of the road before some idiot hits you!” Dave laughed from his car and mimicked trying to run me over, as he pulled away from the curb where I was standing and made his way into a parking spot reserved for clients only. “You’re going to get a ticket someday,” I warned him as he got out of his beautiful blue BMW, and walked towards me from the parking lot. “Two years and no ticket yet, dream on Rye, no one will ticket my car, not while it’s a BMW and I don’t have my parking pass up.” He grinned his amazing grin and gave me a little wink as we walked to the glass building. We got to the turnstile doors at the same time and accidentally touched hands as we went to go through. I immediately stopped to look at him to see if he had any reaction but he was eating a breakfast sandwich with one hand and whizzed through the doors leaving me feeling a tad bit rejected as I followed him in and made our way upstairs to our offices.

I have had a secret pining for Dave since he started working here 2 years ago. He reminds me of a beach bum that got lost in the corporate world because he always seems tan even in the winter, and his hair is a really light golden brown with pale blue eyes and a great smile. I’m pretty sure he is oblivious about my feelings, as I’ve always managed to keep our friendship seeming as plutonic as I can. We rode the elevator up to the 18th floor, me smiling meekly as Dave dished about his Friday night plans with Georgette, the French floozy from Quebec. I waved goodbye as I stepped onto our floor and headed in the opposite direction of my office. “Good morning!” Our receptionist sang, as I walked up to her. “Hey Lauren, any messages?” I asked, and she started flipping through her pile of yet to be opened mail. “Um, hold on one sec, I think you got a letter.” She frowned as she struggled with releasing the brown envelop from its elastic band prison. “Ah! Here it is, have a great day!” She handed it to me in one fluid motion while picking up the phone in her other hand, “Good morning, Lewis Daulton and Son, how may I direct your call today?” Her voice trailed off as I headed past the rows of cubicles I once occupied 2 months ago, getting waves and smiles as I passed through. Sometimes I miss the mindless drain of data entry.

I got to my office; one of the nicer ones on the floor with one wall completely made of window panes, and I let the contents of my hands roll onto the desk as I sat down. I looked down at the small cardboard package sitting at my desk; I took it out of the box and shed the bubble wrap which exposed the shiny gold metal and dark stained oak ‘Rycan Quinn, Senior Marketing Manager’ name plate as the new addition to my new desk in my new office. I ran my fingers along the engravings as my mind wandered to some place far away, all the while sitting alone in my office sans sun, and all light of day.

“Miss Quinn you have a phone call on line 3, it’s Mr. Trenor,” Lauren buzzed in from the telecom on the phone, she then paused and hesitated, “Um, also he told me to tell you he knows you’re in the office so to put him through and not to your voicemail.”

“Tell Mr. Trenor I will be there shortly, when I finish what I’m doing,” I said flatly, as I glanced over at the pieces of yellow paper and the blinking red light indicating Mr. Trenor’s previous attempts at reaching me.

“Alright Miss Quinn.” She sounded somewhat concerned; I wasn’t, he can wait. I routed through my desk and found a bright tube of red lipstick and little pink mirror, I fished them out and started to apply a slow, even coat of the glamorous shade onto my lips. I blotted and reapplied twice before I sighed and picked up the phone receiver, put a fake smile on my face and pressed line 3.

“Good morning Rycan Quinn speaking,” I made a face over the phone as I threw the little red tube back in the drawer.

“Cut your bullshit Rycan, why haven’t you returned any of my messages or calls, I don’t ever want to have to hear your annoying voicemail ever again, do you understand me?” Kalle put up an unconvincing threat, I just rolled my eyes.

“Why good morning Mr. Trenor, I didn’t know you left any, if I did I would have been sure to return them, but you know how busy this office gets, you do remember what it’s like to work with one shared secretary don’t you? Not everyone can have two to themselves.”

“Listen Rycan I told you I need you to take the Boulevard Case, and I don’t care how many times you tell me you are Aviophobic, you need to go to the office in Jamestown and meet with the clients to amalgamate a presentation between the offices for the Summit in January. You are the only other one who has flight permissions, taking anyone else out of country is a liability, I told you that.”

“Kalle, I’m not going to North Dakota, I just got promoted, and I have so many projects I’m working on already. Besides, that isn’t even my department; I have nothing to do with the Summit that’s your job, you’re already going just go by yourself!” I was getting really agitated, and the thought of spending two minutes beside him on a plane made me want to be sick.

“You’re going. Go home and pack, a car will be at your house at 5pm to take you to the airport.” The phone hung up.

“Damn it!” I yelled, and tossed the receiver sideways, it skidded across the top of my desk before toppling over on the floor, the phone cord catching it before it hit the ground. I put my head in my hands and took a deep breath. My brain raced and ultimately surrendered, leaving me without an escape plan or any energy left to fight against my 14 day prison sentence to Jamestown, North Dakota with a man I can’t stand and a task I wasn’t even sure I knew how to do properly. Kalle only gave me this assignment to show everyone that it was too early to promote me, when he knows I have never given huge presentations before. He’s so slimy, I don’t know how he’s still employed let alone how anyone could like him.

Kalle Trenor was the President of the Marketing division at Lewis Daulton and Son, one of the most successful law firms in the country, and was the one who surprisingly hired me 4 and a half years ago to my crappy little job as a data entry clerk in the legal department. 4 and a half years ago I walked up the steps to one of the biggest and most renown law firms in Canada for my interview, and at the time Kalle was the Legal Manager who overlooked the data entry positions. In the interview I sat facing a panel of 4 managers; each one smiled and welcomed me except Kalle. He sat unyielding and cold in his seat while each manager took turns with questions. When it was over I shook each hand and when I got to the end of the line where he stood he offered me a quick, brief handshake, and as I walked out the door I saw him out of the corner of my eye wipe his palm on his shirt. From that moment on, it seemed like he had some kind of fetish with being distant and detached from everything I did, always being busy when I had questions or quick with some kind of smart remark when I made a mistake. Everything out of his mouth was a command that he barked or a sarcastic quip, and I have never met anyone more infuriating to be around. He’s only a few years older than me at best, but he thinks he’s so much better than everyone else because he rose up so fast with hardly any time in an entry level position. I shut my eyes really tight and buried my head farther into my arms as I leaned on the desk.

“Is everything alright in here?” Dave popped his head in the door and knocked lightly, he stood there looking concerned as I looked up and my eyes started to well up with tears. “Oh Jesus, what did that asshole say to you this time?” His face softened as he walked over to my chair, only now I was fighting back tears and embarrassing myself. He rubbed my shoulders with his hands and leaned over me, “It’s ok sweetheart he’s just jealous, he’s just is trying to make other people as miserable as he is.” I relaxed a little as Dave touched me, and it felt nice to finally have some sort of contact with him, even if it was only a friendly gesture. Just as I was thinking about his hands running through my hair, Lauren appeared in my office.

“Oh hi Lauren,” Dave immediately took his hands off me and there was a few seconds of awkward silence as Dave stood there, “I have to be going,” he said, then mouthed ‘I’ll talk to you later’ behind Lauren as he walked out the door.

“Miss Quinn, sorry for any interruptions, but I wanted to let you know Mr. Trenor just called back and told me to tell you to dress appropriately for the plane ride, as Jamestown representatives will be greeting you following your arrival.” She had a sympathy smile on her face, and must have known that whatever Kalle wanted to talk to me about wasn’t going to be good news. She exited the room quietly and left me to gather up my stuff and get home to pack.

(If you want to read the rest let me know. There's lots more)

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