(March 2022 short story) SUPER DUPER LATE
You know when even the things you dislike about a person make you love her even more? Well, that was Mary. On the one hand, she could talk endlessly about obscure texts. You couldn’t help but be drawn in. Her passion for obscurity was like a magnet bringing those in her vicinity nearer.
But, at the same time, she would go to great lengths to prove her point. Sometimes it was too far.
At this moment, she is about to get herself fired again. I am watching it happen, and there is nothing I can do to stop her. There wouldn’t be a point. If I try to intervene, it will only redirect her anger towards me. I don’t want to be in those crosshairs.
I only hope that when she is done telling the owner why his family is wrong to practice the school of magic that they’ve practiced for generations that he will not hold Mary’s outburst against me. I don’t want to lose my job.
Of course, there is also the chance that once he fires her, and believe me, it’s coming, she’ll ask me to quit in solidarity. It’s happened before. I hate job hunting. I’m not as charming as Mary, which is hard to believe at this moment as I’m watching her argue with someone about their family’s way of life.
Mary isn’t the only witch like this. She’s just too young to understand how incredibly rude she’s being. I tell her all the time that if she wants to educate people and change their minds, there is a polite way that they might actually listen to, and there is the Mary way, which immediately puts everyone on edge and shuts down their ability to listen to anyone.
But there is no arguing with Mary…
She was raised by a single father, a witch who collected spells as a hobby and who used those spells to try and force others to his view of the world. He was the magical world equivalent of an eco-terrorist. His daughter is a chip off the old block.
It is strange to me that I simultaneously love her passion for magical theory and hate the way she chooses to wield it.
I keep wiping the counters but stop when I hear the boss say, “that’s it. You’ve gone too far.”
“I’m just saying,” replied Mary.
He cut her off. “Get out. Right now. You don’t get to speak to me that way.”
“If you would only listen to what I’m saying,” Mary sighed. She rolled her eyes and pulled off her apron. She held her head high and her shoulders back as she walked around the counter. When she reached the other side, she glanced over towards me.
I shook my head. I silently pleaded with her to not drag me into this. She shrugged and kept walking. The shop was silent, even after the door shut, ringing the bell above it.
I didn’t make eye contact with the boss and wiped the counter and made myself look busy.
“I’m going to the back,” he said as he stomped off and disappeared behind the “employees only” marked door. As the door was swinging on its hinges, I heard a few words he was mumbling to himself.
“Arrogant brat,” he said just as the doors stopped swinging.
“Mary?” I yelled as I closed and locked the door to our apartment. I hadn’t seen any lights on from the street, but that didn’t mean anything. I’d closed the shop tonight; she might already by asleep.
“Mary?” I said again. No answer.
I took a few steps and turned on the lights. I scanned around and didn’t see her. Our studio apartment was small enough that I could see every inch of it from the entry way.
I wasn’t concerned yet. Maybe she decided to blow off steam. I checked my phone for the umpteenth time but there weren’t any messages from her.
I texted her asking her where she was and if she wanted any company. Knowing Mary, and I have since we were in the same kindergarten class, she was probably caught up in some drama.
She had a habit of going from one catastrophe to the next. You know that saying about celebrity deaths coming in threes, or whatever, that was true about Mary and disasters.
The first was getting fired today. Maybe she was out in the midst of disasters two and three. Hopefully whatever the tragedies were, she wouldn’t bring them home with her.
I looked again at my phone and saw that she hadn’t even read my message yet. It was pretty late. Should I be worried?
This was one of those moments. Mary wasn’t even here, and I was being drawn into her chaos. This time I vowed to not let it pull me in.
I worked on distracting myself instead. I plugged my phone in and placed it on the nightstand. I walked away from it.
I figured the best way to keep away from it was to keep busy. I tidied up, did the dishes, swept the floor, and even took out the garbage. Cleaning the whole apartment took just over thirty minutes.
I plopped onto the bed and reached for the phone. I stopped with my hand still hovering over it.
I would not be drawn in. I would not check my phone. I would not call her or text her.
Whatever was going on, she was in charge of her decisions. She knew where we lived. I didn’t need to check on her.
I took a deep breath and resting my hand in my lap realized that I’d been pulled along in the wake of Mary’s drama for too long now. I wanted to be in her life, but I didn’t need to rescue her or get arrested with her, either of which was equally possible.
The door to the apartment swung open with such force it banged into the wall, adding another dent.
“You are not going to believe what happened to me tonight,” said Mary dropping her bag and belongings and using her foot to kick the door shut.