“Are you cold? I’m cold.” Jennifer always answered her own questions like that. She pulled on a pink cardigan that was hanging on the back of her chair. Sitting behind her, I couldn’t help but stare at her toned, even arms and back as she shrugged on the sweater. She carried an air of superiority, even if she didn’t intend to- her marriage was perfect, her kids were perfect, her work was going perfectly.
Without another word, she got up and left our little office. Typically, she would prelude her trip with a little salutation- “I’m going to get a candy bar” or “I’m going to go get some paper clips”, or even just, “I’ll be right back.” As she left, her stride was firm, almost aggressive.
Was she mad? I couldn’t help that her husband spent more time looking down my dress than at the decorations during the Christmas party. I couldn’t help that he laughed loudest at the story I told about my brother’s first year at college. I couldn’t help that I thought I could convince him to follow me into an empty office if I had wanted to, and I couldn’t help that she knew it.
She came back in, her stride strong on her modestly heeled shoes.
“You OK?,” I said uncertainly.
“I’m just cold,” she said, snapping the words off like a candy cane to be divided between squabbling kids.