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.