I’ll Get Back To You by Michael Webb

There was a timid rapping on the frame where a door would be. It wasn’t an office-but I didn’t really care, since I wouldn’t be in the olive drab prison more than another week.

She came in, a pretty redhead with an uncertain stride, visibly pregnant. Jeanne, I thought, remembering details from her file- unmarried, working her way through nursing school. She was wearing the pastel scrubs of her intended profession.

“Can I ask you something-” she began. Her voice was uncertain, her eyes already watery and red from a previous bout with tears.

“Of course,” I said, smiling neutrally.

“I was wondering if you knew anything about what’s going to happen?” Her voice was breaking already, her face red with exertion.

My job was to tell her no, I didn’t know anything.

My job was to come in to this faltering location, encourage the useful ones to transfer, drain the maximum useful work out of the ones that remain, and, at the last minute, close up the shop, cashiering the others with regret and thanks for their service.

I watched tears carve cool paths down her hot, red cheeks. I knew her name was on the list that was under my left hand, right on the desk in front of me. I could see, on her face, the pressure, like the part where the strain shows on an overstuffed garbage bag.

“I’ll let you know as soon as I do,” I said.

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5 Comments

Filed under Michael Webb

5 responses to “I’ll Get Back To You by Michael Webb

  1. Matt Potter

    Have to say reading this, I was reminded of tours I have taken through former Nazi death camps … but maybe it’s the weather … anyway, this story seemed very true and unfortunate and just reminded me of the times I felt powerless (and still do) with my future in someone else’s hands.

  2. Randal Houle

    I love the word choice – cashiering the others.
    We need certainty in an increasingly uncertain world.

  3. This really resonates. The phrase Randal noted – cahiering the others – rings so cold. But so true. Excellent response to the theme. peace…

  4. Original take on the prompt. I like the ambiguity of the ending.

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