The Secretary's Office

April 10, 2008
The young man marched up to the secretary’s desk and demanded to speak with the principal of Helton High.
“I’d like to speak with Mrs. Peters. Immediately.” The boy’s voice came out louder than he had planned, and his nervousness echoed in the secretary’s large nearly empty office.

The secretary slowly looked up from her novel, blinking at him through her thick black rimmed glasses.
She replied slowly and in a slurred voice, as if she had just woken up. “Mrs. Peters is in a meeting. She’ll be out shortly. In the mean time, please have a seat.” She looked him up and down, obviously disgusted with his multicoloured tie, before going back to her book. The small secretary pointed lazily to one of the three white leather chairs on the other side of the room without looking up and repeated in a strained voice, “Mr. Woo, please, have a seat.”
Without a word, the High School student turned away from the secretary’s desk and crossed the room, settling in a different chair than the one the she had pointed at. The white leather chair was extremely uncomfortable, and the young man could not stop squirming. He was growing more nervous. There were only twenty-five minutes left on his lunch break, and he had a feeling that Mrs. Peters’ meeting was not nearly finished. The boy had only been in this office once before, last year in grade eight when his nose wouldn’t stop bleeding, and that time a different secretary kindly led him to the nurse’s office.
After two or three minutes of staring at his newly waxed black shoes, he risked a glance at the secretary.
She was barely visible behind the large wooden desk, but still the student was able to see that she was slouched in her chair, her eyes wide open and moving rapidly over the pages of her novel. She did not notice the boy watching, so he watched some more. She looked a bit insane, her glasses tilted and her wiry black curls flying away from her head in every direction. The many wrinkles on her forehead rippled like waves when her eyebrows shifted, and her deep green eyes were watering from forgetting to blink. The secretary’s pink blouse was a couple of sizes too big for her, and its collar was up in some places and folded over in others. As mentally unstable as she looked, the boy could tell that she couldn’t be happier.
The student turned his attention to the clock on the wall. Apart from the turning of pages, its steady ticking sound was the only other thing to be heard in the office. It read twenty minutes before the bell. The boy began to play with his tie-dye tie, tracing the different colours with his pudgy fingers.
“Excuse me,” the boy asked timidly. Now it was his turn not to look up. “May I ask, how much longer will Mrs. Peters be?”
The secretary put down her book and gave him a look of disgust. “Young man, who are you talking to? The floor?!”
The student snapped his head up and blurted, “S-sorry, Ms., I was just wondering, how much longer would Mrs. Peters be? Because the bell is going to ring in fifteen minutes, and I have to get back to class, but I also really, really need to speak with Mrs. Peters…” The secretary’s gaze found her way back to her book, and the boy knew that all he could do was to wait, so he slouched back into his chair with a defeated and distressed look plastered onto his round face, and looked up at the plain white ceiling.
At that moment, an out of breath girl whose upper arm was bleeding profusely through her happy bright pink shirt barged through the double glass doors of the office with a worried friend clutching to her healthy arm. The friend started shouting at once. “Ms! Ms! She needs the nurse!”
The secretary looked at her and her injured friend and furiously cried, “That is not the proper way to address authority! Now, apologize and exit immediately! You’re friend is about to drip her blood all over our white carpet!” After her outburst, the secretary tugged at her blouse and slammed her book into her lap.
The two girls in bright tight clothing just stood for a long time looking bewildered, but then the injured friend cried out in a sudden burst of pain and the other girl pulled her towards the nurse’s office, mumbling a careful, “sorry” as she passed the secretary’s desk. They knocked on the nurse’s door, and disappeared into her office after a few seconds.

The young man kept his eyes down, burning holes into the yellow section of his tie, but he was fully aware of how the secretary was giving him a curious look. He sensed her wild unpredictable green eyes on the top of his black head of hair, and he wanted so badly to be able to return her challenging stare, but as much as he tried his eyes would not move from the section of flaring yellow.
The student felt her glare turn away and he knew that she was once again immersed in her novel, which was nearly finished. It was now safe to glance at the clock, which showed that there were a measly five minutes before the end of lunch, and the boy’s neck grew hot with panic and fear that he would have to leave the office while the secretary gave him a disapproving glare. Just then the light directly above the boy started to flicker, almost too fast for anybody far away to notice. But the secretary noticed.
“Sorry…” The boy apologized to no one unparticular. He sounded guilty, as if he had made the light flicker. But then the he realized that this was ridiculous, it was ridiculous to think that the faulty light could possibly have been his fault, ridiculous to believe that he did not have the right to interrupt the secretary’s precious reading time. So he mustered up all of his confidence. Clutching to his tie, but looking straight at the secretary, he began.
“Excuse me, miss,” the boy announced, “I have the right to speak with the principal of my school.”
The secretary’s eyes did not look up from her book and for a minute the boy thought that she did not hear him. Then she turned to the last page of her book and finished it just as the bell began to ring. The secretary spoke loud and clear,
“I do believe Mrs. Peters’ meeting is over, you may see her now, if you wish…”
And the young man got to his feet, proudly fixed his tie and pushed through the glass doors of the secretary’s office.

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JAMIE said...
Sept. 14, 2008 at 8:00 pm
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