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On the Inside
“Nice work gang!” bellowed Jules, the leader of The Circle, a protest group comprised of close friends, “This is really what we are looking for. This is the effort needed to save the whales, stop the fur trade, and defend women all over the world.”
These were the last words out of the mouth of Jules Archer. Soon she would be taken over by another. Inhabited by a stranger, and reaching out to her former self. All she knew would be tested, and the bond between her heart and mind might not be able to stand the test.
“Nice work to you too Jules,” pronounced Ralph, as he put his arm around her waist.
“Thank you Ralph, and don’t think you can sweet talk me into making you co-leader!” Jules joked as she picked his hand up and removed it from her waist.
“Listen, I gotta get to work. I can’t afford to be late again. The boss is still on the fritz about me being in The C. He barely let me in and I heard he is thinking about giving me a D-Day.”
“What is this, WWII?” started Ralph. He found it odd that the Super Store would use that kind of terminology.
“It means he is thinking about firing me, dim-wit! See you Wednesday!”
And with that said, Jules threw her phone and numerous papers into her messenger bag. When outside, she remembered how hard it was to get a cab or find a bus stop in Blacksburg, West Virginia. From her apartment she had to go to the more aristocratic part of town. Or as she called it, the West Virginia Aristocracy. Large houses spilled out over the landscape while parents dropped off their kids at school in expensive sports cars. Anyhow, she was able to flag down a cab and was driven to the local Super Store.
“I am sorry ma’me, I can’t check out your items in the express lane. You have way more than ten items,” droned Jules. This was the third time today someone had tried to check out more items than allowed and it was getting on her nerves.
“Now, that is more like it… one item,” Jules sighed with relief as a gentleman entered her lane.
“That will be $6.54 sir, and would you like a free trial of…” there Jules cut off as she looked up into the face of the most gorgeous man she had ever seen. His hair flowed like prairie grass in a storm over his perfectly symmetrical dark brown eyes, set straight over his strong yet subtle cheek bones. His lips were the most perfect she had ever seen. Then, realizing she had been staring, Jules quickly looked down, letting her long brown hair fall across her face, and placed his yogurt in a bag.
“I noticed your yogurt is made organically, Mr.…” stated Jules in an effort to make small talk.
“Erikson. Yes, I heard it was most healthy but I find the practice of making organic food quite pointless.”
“Excuse me,” Jules slipped out in astonishment.
“It is a waste of time, land, and most of all money! A regular cup of yogurt is merely $4.50. These ridiculous prices are the responsibility of misguided “good doers”. But really all they are doing is a waste of time. Too much money is already put into conservancy and research facilities.” barked William Erikson.
“Well, I might have been able to judge your feelings about the subject from your leather bomber jacket,” Jules said resentfully.
“Since when has a bagger had the liberty to inappropriately comment on a paying customers attire?!” growled William.
“Please excuse my comment, “ Jules rushed as she saw her supervisor coming over, “I do hope you will come again to the one and only Super Store.”
“I most certainly never enjoy the experience. This place is crawling with ignorant imbeciles. None are learned or excel in a field. All are struggling to the top of the grocery store chain,” William said sarcastically.
As he was about to leave, his friend sauntered over and put his arm around his shoulders. This difference in character interested Jules, and slightly amused her. His friend was so friendly and social, where William was sarcastic and proud.
“Why so aggravated, chum? It is a beautiful day, and,” he said as he looked at Jules, “there’s a beautiful woman to talk to.”
Jules couldn't help herself. Her light cheeks blushed bright red. This appeared to please William's friend.
“Don't be ashamed, love. Why don't you help my friend here and walk out his purchase,” he teased.
“Henry, I only bought yogurt.” an even more aggravated William said.
“Aye, but it is a heavy load, mate. You could use the extra strength with your jellyfish arms!” Henry said, very unsuccessful at holding back a laugh!
“Of course, sir,” And Jules picked up the yogurt and started outside.
“So, I see you are part of ‘The Circle’. What exactly is it that you do?” William said blandly, knowing completely well that Henry was just trying to set him up like always. He didn’t want to admit it, but he did think Jules quite attractive. However, he was prejudice toward the protestors of the lower class.
“Yes. We just had a rally for women’s rights. Over 800 people attended. It was a big step for the group.” Jules informed William. It honestly came as a shock to her that he’d asked.
“Hmmm… well, I must be off. Please tell the manager that I could not find the right water so I will not be coming back until it is back. Thank you,” and William drove off.
When Jules got home, she started to think about how William had reacted to her being in The Circle. Was this going to affect her forever?
Maybe that needs to change. She thought to herself, I can’t stay alone forever with people thinking I am a crazy rioter. Maybe I need to change.
So, Jules changed. She found herself spending less and less time with herself and more time with a stranger. She became someone who tried to pleasing others more than pleasing themselves. Someone who started to go to night classes, and went to fewer and fewer meetings with her friends in ‘The Circle’. She saw William Erikson more often and that pleased her, but Jules’ friends started to treat her differently. Sometimes they greeted her coldly or not at all when she walked down the street, but she hardly ever noticed.
“Sorry I didn’t make in last week, guys. Busy schedule! So, what is on the agenda for today?” Jules said as she bustled into Ryan’s apartment.
“Are you sure you are genuinely interested Jules?” questioned Anastasia.
“What is that supposed to mean? Seriously, what are we doing?” Jules asked. It was not like Anastasia say that sort of thing.
“A new leader, that’s what!” shouted Anastasia,” You have missed so many meetings and you are obviously not interested in us anymore! Ryan was elected in. He is a much better leader than you!”
“Well, if that is the way you feel, fine! Kick me out of my own position. Good luck getting anywhere without me!” Jules yelled back equally forcefully. But her voice was tinged with guilt, anger, and hurt. Collecting her bag, she left; For good, she thought.
The next day she saw William at her night class, sitting near the door.
“So, Jules, I was wondering if you would like to go to lunch with me today. I have no previous engagement and would find it enjoyable,” William said, expecting a quick response.
Jules heart soared, and then, it was in its place again. What Anastasia had said to her previously that day came swarming into her brain. She had been ignoring her friends and duties to herself. She had changed herself to please someone who didn’t truly like her, but someone else.
“No,” she answered. Short, sweet, and to the point, “No.”
“I admit this is surprising to me. You are so much like me now,” stammered William.
“I am nothing like you. I am a short, noisy and mouthy part of the “inferior” class. I am sorry to disappoint you, but I have to go somewhere more important at the moment,” Jules stated.
Now she could be free. Free of him forever. Jules realized she was fine the way she was. Surrounded by friends and people who loved her for who she was. Not pleasing themselves with what they made her.
After she got out side in the cool October air, she picked up her phone and dialed Ryan. After two rings he picked up.
“Yellow, this is Ryan.”
“Don’t hang up. It’s Jules. I need to talk to you. I have thought about how I have been a serious butt, and I hope you don’t hate me for how I have been acting,”
After a moment Ryan answered,
“Don’t be ridiculous Jule. Welcome back.”